Monday, August 11, 2008

Memories of my grandparents…

14th August is just round the corner and we’ve decided to have some of the wonderful memories of partition related here by the authors and commentators. Stories which you have been fed by your grandparents or your parents, who migrated from across the border to begin a new life here in the country made for democracy and equal rights for ALL citizens. Stories my grandparents tell me often, follow:

My grandparents (father side) lived in Bahunagar and then Bombay. My grandfather used to have a tea stall which he used to run along with his elder brother, Ahmed. British army was their regular customer and when they came they came in droves and all the war chat would take place there, albeit in English, a language my grandfather never really understood except for the morsels. He also tells me, whenever in good mood, that Hindu banyas were also his prized customers and they would be very rich and very tidy in their manners and style.

Then they came to Karachi, Pakistan.

Unlike many migrants pouring from India by train or walk or by mules, which was always a dangerous thing to do in those bad times, he and his wife arrived by ship. In those old days, ships b/w Karachi and Bombay were very common and lot of people used to rely on them for trade. Thankfully, it wasn’t disconnected after partition. If I can recall it rightly, it took around 7 days for the ship to reach Karachi and vice versa, and the journey was, as they remember, quite emotional but un-eventful. They off loaded in a city which was far cleaner, more managed, having wonderful, big roads and with lot of joggis around for people pouring in. Karachi was then a port city and it was just that. Further, he tells me with a shine in his eyes that the major thoroughfares would be daily washed clean on the orders of Mr. Jinnah, founder of Pakistan and the resident of this city.

I am also told that Karachi had no fear. People were loving and good-natured; Hindus and Parsis were the major businessmen. They had lots of properties and some really wonderful buildings to their credit. Khojas and Memons were also there but in lower number. As migration forced it way, that number eventually rose (that of Gujerati speaking groups) and lots of Hindus fled Karachi fearing for their lives, just as Muslims were doing from across the border.

I am also told that wide roads, (almost) zero pollution and a sense of new found destiny improved public imagination, which in turn helped people in re-building their lives from the scratch.

As more stories come to mind or are related they shall be uploaded here as comments here. Readers are requested to add their own treasures here.

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