It was an emotional reunion with the residents of his ancestral village for Pakistan Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif as he moved into the streets of Jati Umra village, around 40 km from Amritsar, on Sunday evening.
Sharif visited his ancestral house, now a gurdwara, and the grave of his great grandfather. He met the villagers and exchanged gifts with them.
Shahbaz and the family had moist eyes when they visited the grave of Mian Mohammad Baksh, great grandfather of Shahbaz. The family, accompanied by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal and revenue minister Bikram Majithia, spent about 10 minutes at the grave and offered prayers.
Then followed the eagerly awaited meeting with village residents. As soon as Sharif entered the pandaal set up for the function, about 500 villagers welcomed him.
Village elders Massa Singh, Gian Singh and Sarabjit Singh besides sarpanch Dilbagh Singh showed old photographs to Sharif, who took a keen interest in them and talked about the village past and present.
Sharif, who was gifted the gold rings and other mementos such as a picture of the village by the residents, said, "I can't tell you how happy I am to be here. The love and affection shown to us is great and I invite all the people of the village to Lahore for a return tour."
Going down memory lane, Sharif who had last visited the village in 1964, said, "I still remember when I last came to the village with my family about 50 years ago, the villagers greeted us and we were served milk and sweets. Whatever we are today is because of the blessings of the village."
He said his father had told him that they were a poor family and the only Muslim house in the village, adding that his father had also narrated to them as to how the struggle started and it was just fate and the blessings of villagers that took the family places and they ended up at top political positions in Pakistan.
"Had we not gone to Pakistan, I would have been the "puttar" (son) of the village, but today though I live in Pakistan, I am still the puttar of this village and you all are my family," he told the villagers.
Sharif, who had brought sweets and fruits for the villagers, said, "I cannot return the gesture you have shown, but assure you that you have a special place in my heart."
Later, Sharif visited his ancestral house. He spent a few minutes there and paid obeisance as the house has been converted into a gurdwara.
He also laid the foundation stone of various development works in the village.
Sharif said the issues of both Punjabs were the same and there was need to collectively fight against poverty and unemployment.