All my grandparents came from Pakistan punjab. I always thought they had moved to India before partition. This time when I visited my Grandma (My mom’s mom) I heard her story. She crossed over during partition. She’s old and not as strong anymore to tell the entire story. I’ve written down all I could gather through her broken stories and thick punjabi.
My Grandma comes from a village near Sargoda. She was in her early teens when partition happened. Post partition when the riots broke, she was in her house surrounded by muslims wanting to kill the hindu family inside. A muslim religious man(probably a maulvi) took on himself to protect them. He said if anyone wanted to kill the people inside the house, they will have to step over the kuran sharif to do so. He guarded the house with kuran sharif in his hand. At night the family picked a few clothes and somehow escaped. They took refuge in a house full of 10-12 hindu families. This house was protected by a group of muslim army/police. Somehow this group of protectors got influenced and planned to kill the hindu families at night. Lala Lajpat Rai was taking care of protecting hindu families in pakistan and his people replaced the muslim guards with hindu guards. The families however were stuck in a house with limited supplies.They again were able to escape and traveled in trucks/ tankers with only a hole for light and air. These vehicles were hidden in jungles for several hours as there was massive killing happening in trains.
With clouded eyes my Grandma told me about how trains stopped at outskirts waiting for the train from the other side to come. We’ve heard the stories of how trains full of dead bodies were sent across. She never saw those trains but she met someone later in India who had killed some people. He said that if they kill, we can’t sit quiet.
So after a few days of surviving in those closed vehicles in hiding, once it seemed safe, they took one of the trains to reach india. These families had left everything they had back in Sargoda with only a pair of clothes or two with them. My Grandma’s family stayed in refugee camps in Pakistan and India for quite some time. She said her Dad sold turbans to earn a living in Ludhiana once they reached India. Later they moved to Kanpur/Lucknow as my Grandpa’s family were here and the families knew each other from Sargoda.
A little bit on my Grandpa. He had lived most of his life in Sargoda. He lost his father early on in life and grew up with his uncles while he completed his education. He was a self made man. My Grandpa was still in 10th when my Grandma’s family moved here.
My Grandpa only had a sister. They wanted to get her married to my grandma’s brother. Her brother said he would agree if my grandpa married his sister, which worked out well. That’s how my Grandma and Grandpa got married.
In between this somewhere houses were getting sold to Hindus who had moved from pakistan, at lowered rates. The going rate was Rs.3500. There were some brokers who somehow bought these houses and in turn sold them at Rs.15000. Grandpa was somehow able to buy two houses at Rs.1800 each. My mom grew up in one of these. The other was where my Grandpa’s sister and Grandma’s brother’s family lived.
Grandpa wrote exams to become an Income Tax officer. They had 7 children – 3 girls a boy and 3 more girls. Single income was less for a huge family. My Grandma lost her brother early on, leaving Grandpa with his sister and her two children to take care of.
Grandma came from a progressive family where she went to school until partition happened. She was good at Maths and so found a teaching job at government school close to home. She had her eldest daughter and mother in law to help her with household chores. I remember my Mom’s Granny a little bit. She died when I was 4-5 year old. I remember her old and fragile but always doing something, don’t remember her sitting idle.
My Grandma worked in the school for 46 years before she retired. After Grandpa’s death, my uncle moved to a newer area and sold the old house. Grandma is happy here, has a few friends around she can talk to. She’s diabitic and is not able to do much anymore. This is the first time in years that I heard bits of her story. I always wanted to know more about my roots and I did finally hear it. Hope to hear more stories next time I meet her.
I’m told I look a lot like her, will post a pic of me with her and let others judge.