In 1947 India was divided into two parts – Pakistan and India. A lot of lives changed. My nanapapa (maternal grandfather) and my nanimama (maternal grandmother) have experienced the partition. Here I want to share a part of my nanapapa’s story.
I was sitting outside enjoying the sun with nanapapa and couldn’t resist. I had to ask his age during the partition. “I was around twelve years old – in 7th/8th class”, he answered. I asked if he could share his story with me.
My nanapapa grew up in Pakistan. He had an elder sister, three younger sisters and one younger brother. His younger sister was only 6 months old when they had to cross the border.
When the decision of partition was made, his father who was working as a veterinary doctor, got the option to either continue to live in Pakistan or cross the border to India. He chose Pakistan as the paternal house was there, and they grew up there. Then the riots started and they had no option but to leave for India.
They gathered with a group of other people living in the same area. The farmers had carts they could carry their belongings on. Ordinary people like nanapapa’s family didn’t have that, and had to walk. However, nanapapa’s father knew some of the farmers in the area and one of them agreed to load one little bag of clothes. They locked the doors of their house leaving their belongings behind, as they thought they were coming back to Pakistan soon. This was only a temporary phase, they thought.
Nanapapa’s father had a bicycle which they brought along, but as it became difficult to carry the bicycle in addition to taking care of the family, he had to leave the bicycle on the way.
The little one in the family had to be carried. The family thought of leaving her behind too, because of the limited capacity they had, but nanapapa’s elder sister (14 years at that time) insisted that she would carry her little sister all the way.
As they walked, nanapapa got fever. They continued to walk – thirsty and hungry. After some while, they reached a lake. Some time before they arrival some Muslims had killed lot of people and thrown their dead bodies in the lake. The family was thirsty, nanapapa had fever, but how could they drink from a lake where they saw dead bodies? Nanapapa didn’t want to drink, so they continued walking. When the night came, they found a place to rest. However after some time someone started to scream the Muslims would soon attack the place they were spending their night at. Luckily, no one came and they continued to walk the next day and crossed the border. At the border, the officers took all the jewellery people were carrying before they could enter India.
Nanapapa’s dadiji (paternal grandmother) lived at another place in Pakistan than nanapapa. She too left with a group of people to cross the border and took some jewellery along with her, while leaving most of it at her house. The group she was travelling with had two officers along for safety who got to know about the jewellery she was carrying. One of these knew her and said to her and some girls in the family that he had a vehicle and would help them to cross the border.
The girls and nanapapa’s dadiji went along. However the intention of the officer changed and he took them to another place in Pakistan. Here he took all the jewellery from dadiji and killed her. He took the girls too. Nanapapa’s uncle went later to Pakistan to look for his mother, but couldn’t find her. No one know where she was killed or where the girls went.
Nanapapa’s family got a house belonging to a Muslim, who had locked the house to cross the border to Pakistan.
A lot of stories exist out there about the struggles people have gone through. We just think about ourselves and our own struggles and judge other people easily. However, we have no idea what struggles others are going through. That’s why it’s important to meet others with compassion, no matter how they appear to be. Another thing I want to say before finishing this post, is to appreciate the gems our grandparents are. We should value the information, knowledge and wisdom they have.