August 26, 2012 Leave a comment
“Mom was right in asking me to spend Ramadan here, Nani. Easier rozaa’s. Smaller days than Canada.”
“Yes beta. Not much to do here though. Loadshedding; also its hot and thirsty. Not many friends; all the relatives are in Canada, US and UK”.
“Why is that Nan?”
“Beta they thought they would have a better life elsewhere.”
“So why did you not go?”
“This is home. I am not leaving my language, my people and my food. What will I do there? Watch endless TV about unfamiliar things. At this time of life, no one to tell all the art of living I collected for 70 years.”
“But Nani, you are alone and who do you meet here?”
“My neighbours, some old friends and cousins who still come. Then all the young ones from the maids’ household. I teach them.”
“You could be with Mom in Toronto. She will look after you. I know she has a busy job, but she loves you. Even the cold is bearable with heating.”
“Beta, my heart is here. Your grandfather is here in that graveyard. My father and mothers souls are here. This is home and a passport cannot change that”.
“Nani what happened to your parents. I never saw them and Mom was saying vague stuff.”
“(Sigh!) Well she never saw them either. I haven’t these sixty-five years”.
“Nani, what do you mean?”
“Well jaan, I was very young and living in Ludhiana. We had a fair life. Not too rich, but enough to live. We used to live in a Muslim community. Then one day I heard my parents talking. It was sort of worrying. They were saying we should move to Lahore or Multan. I asked why?
My father said because they were coming to get us and we will be safer in Pakistan. So what is Pakistan and what of my friends? My choti sister started crying. ‘Don’t worry’ said Abba, ‘Pakistan is home and where home is the heart is’.
We went by cart first and then found this crowded truck. Father was lost for a while. Then in Gurdaspur we found him. So there we were in Pakistan and safe in a camp. It was August 16th. Then all hell broke loose. Suddenly the raiders came, there was gunfire, stampede and they were killing everyone. I hid behind some bodies. After they had gone, I went to see. Abba and Amma were dead and Amma was lying on top of choti to protect her. But choti was dead too.”
“Somehow I got to Lahore. Some good people helped me. Then after 10 days my uncle in Lahore came and took me home. He had been looking for us for days. I told him about father and he cried. Chacha said to me, ‘We have given the price of blood for this land. Remember that always. This is precious and yours. Don’t give it up easily’.
And so my dear, I do remember it and shall not leave. My land, whatever may go wrong, I am staying here Inshallah. I want the right to stand before Allah one day, to ask him to question all who have cheated this land and to call judgement on the evil visited in the name of the military, religion, democracy, justice, the rich and uncaring. I am going to ask Allah to visit the best revenge on these people who have spoilt the home that is mine and of another hundred and eighty million people. There is a heavy price to be paid yet. Alhamdulillah”.
“Nani you sound angry”.
“No beta, I am extremely determined and very sure”.
*Historically, Gurdaspur originally seemed to be awarded to Pakistan, with a 51% Muslim population, but then was subdivided with majority areas going to India. This became a high killing field, as population moved either way.