Vatani (Compatriot)

A few years ago, as I was returning from US after visiting my daughter and was waiting at the Dubai airport for my connecting flight, my ears pricked as I heard familiar lingo. “Utho hun. Chalna kai nahi. Flight miss thi vaisi,” my eyes instinctively turned around to what my ears had just heard. It was an old Muslim couple and to roughly translate her words, the wife was coaxing her husband into getting up else they would miss their flight. Maybe it was the fact that I had heard my own dialect after being cooped up for months in…

Ummi

“Veera hold my hand tightly. When the train comes, we will try to get in,” repeated Ram Pyaari to her four-year-old daughter, Veera, adjusting her own dupatta1 on the head as it threatened to slip away. Veera nodded back vigorously and then looking down at her doll, she’d managed to grab before leaving home, admonishing her, “Ummi, you heard na what Ma said. Hold my hand tight.” Then turning back to her mother complained, “Ma, I’m hungry.”   “I know, beta ji2. Pitaji3 has gone to see if he can get something,” the hapless mother tried to console her daughter….

Tadbiir (Strategy)

“Sunte ho1, remember to get that achaar2 tomorrow…. especially the shalgam3 one…. These Punjabis really make it well. I had never thought shalgam could taste so well,” yelled Vimla from the kitchen, her mouth, watering at the very mention of the pickles that her husband had got from the market the other day. “Haan4 haan… I will. How many times will you repeat the same thing?” Lala Ramkhilavan was losing his patience looking for his bahi khaate5. His six-year-old son was very fond of those red books, laal kitaaben6 as he would call them. The child would often take them…

Saañs (Breath)

Amrit paced in the courtyard outside their tiny house in a small village called Buana Laakhu in Haryana. They had moved in there, from the refugee camp, a few months ago.  It was a far cry from the sprawling mansion, they had left in Pakistan (that’s what their homeland was called now) but they knew better than to complain. The memories of the night, when they had to flee, would forever be etched in their psyche. It was on that night when Chandrakala, his wife, had blushingly told him that she was expecting. They never got the time to rejoice,…

Radcliffe Line

Five weeks! 175,000 square miles of territory to be divided and its 88 million people! A lawyer who had never been to India and knew nothing about it! What does it make you think? I’ll tell you what I think of it- ‘a botched-up surgery’ (I am a doctor, so forgive me but it’s an occupational hazard for me to use such terms) How else can you explain what happened in those days in the run up to our independence? Today’s post talks about those fateful last few days and how the line was drawn the way it was. It’s…

Qaum (Nation/ Community)

“Abbu1, I think Mamu2 is right. We should also sell off our shop and home move to Pakistan,” a concerned Faiz advised his father, Ismail. “He never listens to my brother. All his life he has done what pleases him. Atleast this once, think about it…. if not for yourself but for our sake,” an agitated Saadiya supported her son’s statement. Both mother and son were upset from what they were hearing in the neighbourhood. Almost everyone in their mohalla3 was packing their bags expecting things to take an ugly turn once independence was declared. The two-nation theory would no…

Pairahan (Attire)

“We cordially invite you to the 50th anniversary celebrations of our parents, Mrs. Devi and Mr. Gyan Chand Phulwani (GP) on December 5, 1996 at….” …. read the gold and white invites that had been sent out to family and friends all across the world, much in advance. The hotel’s huge ballroom was all decked up as the guests walked in, quite a few as illustrious as the famous criminal lawyer, Gyan Chand himself. Despite all that raunaq1, the world came to a standstill for the two men when they spotted each other across the hotel’s huge ballroom. Their eyes…

Omar

As Omar climbed the steps to the make shift podium, to the cheers of the thousands who had gathered there to hear him speak, he couldn’t help marvel at how far he had come. It was 1947 and he had come a long way from the twenty-something lanky young man studying at Lahore’s University Law College. He remembered reading Allama Iqbal’s famous Allahabad Address in the Daily Inquilab1 in the December of 1930. That was probably the first time any politician had articulated the ‘Two Nation Theory’, stating that ‘Muslims are a distinct nation and thus deserve political independence from…

Naasuur (Festering Wound)

I’m almost halfway through the alphabet soup that I got myself into. Since the time I decided to participate in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge 2019, I have time travelled to those heady days that led up to my country’s Independence. But somehow as I read and started writing, the term Independence faded and the word that stayed with me was bantwaara or partition. It must have been the most disillusioning moment for those millions of people who moved across the newly created borders. The place they called home was not a geographical zone but an emotion. My heart goes out…

Musavvir (Artist)

 “Aadaab1, Naved Bhai2. How are you doing?” “Khuda ka shukr hai3, Asif Mia4. God be thanked. Otherwise, these Khuda ke bande5…. They have left no stone unturned to make this place hell. In fact, the past few days have been worse than dozakh6.” “You are right, Naved. This isn’t the Lahore we knew. It just isn’t the Hindus or Muslims who have suffered, our city has also borne the brunt of this bestial violence. Atleast, Urdu bazaar7 is finally pulling up the shutters. For now, I’m just grateful to be alive and safe and back in my shop. Though I…