August 14: An Independence Story
“We used to live in a huge haveli, with several rooms and a huge court yard, where I used to ran and play with all the other children in the family,” Dadi Ma tells us with so much love, her eyes glistening as she recalls her childhood days. “We all lived together, several families, and had so much fun. The house was always filled with laughter, jokes, and tinkling of the bangles as women and children moved about with their daily routines, while the men left for work.”
When the news of partition came about, the entire Indian subcontinent was in a turmoil, including Delhi, where my grandparents resided. Their families had been living in the same city for centuries, and could have never imagined living anywhere else. To them, this was home.
But everything was going to change in 1947. Together with her husband, two little infants, and some jewellery and clothes, Dadi Ma left the home, where she was born and raised, to a country where everything would be new. Delhi was no longer safe for the Muslims. Law and order had broken down, and there was just too much bloodshed. There was a massive civil war.
They took the train to cross the border, where they hope to have a new, peaceful start. A place where the children would get good education without being discriminated for being Muslims. They were heading towards a new country that was built on the fundamentals of Islam, where the majority of its citizens would be Muslims.
The train ride was long and exhausting. It was overcrowded; in fact people were even hanging on to its doors just to get to the other side of the border. It was terribly hot and noisy. People were tired, angry, confused, crying, complaining, hungry, sick, and frightened. Dadi Ma held both her children closer to her as she saw the people around her in the train: some were stealing food, others were fighting, there were heated arguments over seats, others got sick, a few even died. As the train made its long journey, there were small stations, where it had to slow down. This frightened everyone in the train. Slowing down meant that stones will be thrown at them by the people outside, as an outrage. A few times, it wasn’t just stones, but bullets.
Once in karachi, they were given a small piece of land, where the family started life anew. Having left a luxurious life in exchange of a humble little house and starting from scratch, my grandparents were somehow happy and content. There were times when they would think about their old home and miss it terribly. But my grandmother would often say that they had made the right decision.
What had ensued then was one of the largest population movements in the recorded history. According to Richard Symonds:
“At the lowest estimate, half a million perished and twelve million became homeless.”
Here are some photos from that day, taken from Wikipedia.
“I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.” [Edith Cavell]
So by just saying “I love Pakistan” doesn’t prove that you do love this country. Putting up the largest flag on your balcony today won’t prove your loyalty. You must love Pakistan’s people, and most importantly, you must not have hatred or bitterness towards ANYONE. Don’t indulge into an endless rant of destructive criticism. Play your part as a Pakistani. Be a responsible citizen.
Ordinary Girl has also written a very vivid and moving independence story about her grandparents and the hardships they had endured during the partition. You can read about it here.