Healing from a tragic past - AND owning it
Hi Reena, I read your beautifully written prose and poetry about partition of India. It was not only enjoyable but also very educational. I was not aware of all the details about drawing the boundaries between the two countries, as you outlined in your writeup. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in Delhi (India), in a family which was displaced by the partition of the subcontinent, I had heard numerous stories about the hardships and suffering faced by people on both sides of the boundary. Even though I was born, in 1950, in free India, I always felt the pain and anguish of my parents and grandparents because of their uprooting from Sialkot/Lahore where they used to live peacefully with people of all religions. My father was a journalist (published a weekly paper called Nigaristan) and his father (my grandfather) was a postmaster, both in Lahore. The ladies of the family used to live in Sialkot in the ancestral large Haveli. Both my father as well as grandfather had several Muslim employees with whom they had very harmonious relationships. At the time of partition, when all the human beings became barbarous, they were given two choices -- either convert religion or leave with no belongings. They took the second choice since my grandparents on my mother's side were well-settled in Delhi in a home that they had gotten built only a few years earlier in Prem Nagar. In that toxic atmosphere, my father and grandfather, with assistance from some of their loyal Muslim employees, went to Sialkot to fetch the ladies of the family. The ladies had bagged some jewelry and other valuable items with them. They succeeded in getting back to Lahore with the whole family when the mayhem started. They lost all their belongings and were barely able to escape in a train bound for Delhi. All this episode had disastrous effect on my grandfather. In Delhi, my grandfather started having nightmares about partition and started developing bad health. Due to his worsening condition, he passed away in early 1948. Even though I never saw my paternal grandfather, I experienced a strange closeness with him through all the anecdotal stories my father used to tell me.
Thank you, Reena, for creating these priceless stories and poems that touched my heart and soul.
With my blessings, Jogindra Chachaji
Wow. This was educational and sad. Thanks for writing about it.