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.



  1. It’s so touching, may Allah unite us all.
    Happy Independence day to all Pakistanis :). I am so lucky to celebrate independence day twice 🙂

    ~ Thanks, Jaan. Happy Independence Day to you too. For those who don’t know, Masood’s father is Pakistani and mother is Indian, so he gets to celebrate independence day twice.

  2. Depiction of a national trauma through a heart wrenching yet delicate story from the past!

    I am amazed to see that we are descendants of many such families, with similar or more horrifying experiences and traumatic losses encrypted on our pasts, how we haven’t valued our so priced possession, this country and the freedom that we enjoy.

    Looking at the current situations, its really difficult to answer our younger generation when they ask us: “Is this what our ancestors sacrificed everything for??”

    We should play our parts individually to bring back the long lost glory, instead of lamenting over the Government activities. This country came into being by the efforts of the people who wanted it, and today also, we people can make it the dream land for our younger generations and make them understand its worth!

    Azaadi Bohot Bohot Mubaarak

    ~ Aap ko bhi Azaadi Mubarak ho! Thank you for stopping by. It is one of our duties to remind these younger generations on how this country attained its freedom. Let us encourage them to read our history and understand every word of it. Most importantly, let us set a good example for them.

  3. Wonderful piece!

    “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 Pakistani. Be a responsible citizen.”

    That is SO right! We do that a lot, don’t we? Just talking and talking, but not doing anything. Just talking about what’s wrong but not presenting any solution for the problem?

    ~ It’s because talking comes effortlessly, unlike thinking coherently and coming up with solutions, or taking an action.

  4. And oh, Jashan-i-Azadi Mubarik! 🙂

    and thanks for liking and linking back to my story.

    ~ Aap ko bhi Jashn-i-Azaadi boht boht Mubarak ho! Your post deserves to be read by all. I have read it thrice myself 🙂

  5. Three very different partition stories/reactions:

    * my late grandmom (may Allah grant her Jannah) – she would tell us a very different side of how ppl migrated. We expected her experience of migration to be riddled with hardships, fear or violence (as is commonly heard). But she did not go through any of that. They just packed their few belongings, readied their children, got on the train & peacefully arrived in their new country. Alhumdullilah.

    * my grand-uncle – He never wanted to leave his original home but was persuaded by his brothers to move to a muslim land. But, he never accepted the migration or his new country & remained aloof, sad & anti-social ever since.

    * family friend (may Allah grant her Jannah) – adopted as a young girl by her maternal uncle who decided to migrate, she was separated from her birth family. She longed to meet them for fifty years. Allah had destined that she would eventually go there. But only to suddenly die among her long-lost family. A Pakistani, she is buried in India.

    ~ Wow, such different yet unique stories indeed. It’s good to know there are those who migrated with such ease, and I do consider them lucky. And just like your uncle, not everyone was enthusiastic about leaving the country where they were born. I can’t blame them. A place where a person is born always hold a special place in his/her heart.

    Thank you for sharing your independence stories, sister. Azaadi Mubarak ho! 🙂

  6. ok i might not know what it is to see your own relatives killed. but still shouldn’t we forgive and forget. i do dream that it would be better if we where one whole big country that was secular. it would make all of us proud.

    ~ Fortunately, I haven’t been through that trauma either, and as much as I love Pakistan, I have nothing against India. In fact, I am married to an Indian, and when I visited Hyderabad, I was warmly welcomed. But those who went through all the struggles and hardships of crossing the border in 1947 say that they have never regretted their decision.

  7. Great post, great pictures, THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I hope you had a great 14th of August as well!

    I also did a piece for 14th Aug. I think it was great all blogger putting up good dose about Pakistan (:

    good day!

    ~ You’re welcome. My Aug 14 was spent at home, watching ARY and blogging, hehe. Yes, there were several good posts by fellow Pakistani bloggers. Yours was well written 🙂

  8. I am happily shocked!!

    26/11/2009 , I was exploring sites on terrorism and somehow found this one, Thanks.

    I am an INDIAN.I have nothing against any country,religion,,,

    Pakistan was created on the basis of religion,I am strongly against this partision because it was divided on a wrong basis.In today’s world most of the well-off countries are secular in nature , all the religions are peacefully followed and It should be.

    Whatever happened in 1947 was and will remain as a pain to all of us BUT we must forget the pain,hate if there is any…

    I am writting this because I felt peace in you guys and would request you all to please SPREAD your feelings to everyone,all the religions,countrymen irrespective of borders so as to spread happiness.

    Let us bring people who are killing innocents on the name of religion to STOP this Non-sense.hindus/muslim/sikh/cristians/jews every1.

    Religion DOESN’T matter.

  9. Why is this story 1 sided? What about the alike Hindus, Sikhs, and Chritians that had to do the same and deal with same horific situations having to move from the northern region to southern???? I like the picutures, but your story is definitely dillusioned with emotions – hence this world is filled with crazies that only see their own side of any situation, causing more hate than love!

    1. Jay, I’m surprised that after having read the entire article (I’m assuming you have), you didn’t realize that is the personal story of my grandparents. It depicts their experience, and I have narrated it as such.

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