My journey from Lahore to Haridwar was not by car or by train , but it was a flight through someone's else's reminisce of life's history.
One evening the past had knocked at my door ,with a thought that I would pen down the story , which she had been carrying around in her heart for years .
The scenes of 1947 partition , still blazed in the eyes of those who had seen them with their bare eyes. The screaming slaughtered moving train has remained a night terror for those who had travelled in it .
The lady whose story I am about to narrate is none other than a dear relative of mine Ushaji , who had accidentally started narrating me her childhood story .Her sweet tales of old INDIA ,had always captivated my soul , but this story of her's had motivated me to record down her age old burried feelings on the PARTITION OF INDIA .
The wrinkled face which was once firm , still remembers her journey from her homeland ,which was once in Lahore to Haridwar. I was stunned to hear that she was just six years old at the time of partition, an age in which infants lack consciousness . Ushaji still remembers every segment of that time .
She said that she was born in Vacho Wali an area dominated by Hindus in Lahore and there her family had earned a good fortune . But faith had played games with them and her family life's was changed by the " last-minute” mechanism played by Britisers securing agreement over how partition would take place .
Her voice choked with an expression of dismal as she submerged herself in her past , packing her bags with her mother , in a well furnished haveli .Her grandmother chanting beads in her hands and in-between calling out to the darwan ( watchman ) to keep the luggage safely in the tonga (a light horse-drawn two-wheeled vehicle used in India. ) . All their belongings were packed and settled in six tonga"s that were aligned outside there haveli, at that moment her father came in with his policeman friend and told them that Lahore would be a part of new India and there was no need for them to migrate to any where and they would continue to stay in Lahore .
A smile glittered on the wrinkled face as she spoke the word " Lahore ". She continued by swallowing the gob of her present existence and hiding her gleam sad eyes by pressing her fingers against them and then long silence prevailed in our conversation.
Holding back her emotions Ushaji continued by saying ," It was a greatest the mistake from our side , we unpacked our luggage on hearing the good news and the very night ,it was proclaimed by the government that Lahore would be a part of Pakistan , and then our fight for existence started. " Riots broke out in the city and their shop which sold SWADESHI goods which was put in flames .
Ushaji blankly stared at the ceiling and continued " I still have some sovereigners of my shop at my place , they are incredible and now rare pieces. We could only pick , a few of our valuables as the whole city was enclosed by a firestorm ."
Six year old girl Usha along with her family was sneaked to the railway station by the policeman and their they saw the game of bloodshed being played.
"We didn't knew whether they were Hindus or Muslims who had sown the seeds of bloodshed at the railwaystation ,but we only saw men killing each other in the name of religion. "
Ushaji with her family was pushed on the train by there policeman friend, where my father made his way to the engine. "According to my father if any adversity occurs on the train , then also the train would continue to run and he was right ! "
While Ushaji spoke she wide opened her eyes and her tone was unshakeable ."My father merged with the strokers of the engine and started putting coal in the boiler , and we were dust up with the powdered coal and camouflage behind the heap of coal. " Ushaji took a deep breath and continued "Sitting behind the coal chunks every breath had to be taken cautiously ,as the agitators had maraud on the train and they kept on inspecting the engine for innocent people."
" I could hear the screams of the innocent lives from the nearby coach ." and Ushaji sighed with discomfort as if those screams were still echoing in her ears . A hitch came in their way when a burning piece of coal bobed in Ushaji's fathers eyes and the whole family came out from their hideouts to redcue him and simultaneously an agitator came in .Seeing a family of four , completely painted in black , he helped in saving Ushaji's fathers eye and asked them to go back to their secretive hideouts. " A question had always been haunting in our minds that why didn't the agitator killed us like his mates have done to rest of the passengers on the train "
Ushaji took out her spects and started cleaning its lenses with her chiffon dupatta and continued "perhaps humanity persisted somewhere in his heart ".
" The train halted at it's last station , Attari which was engulfed in silence on seeing the streaming train enter . Blood poured down from the doors of the coache , dead bodies were lying everywhere .Their were a handful of people including us who had stepped out the train ." As she spoke her wrinkled eyes became watery , and she took a breath of relief .
Ushaji summed up her story by saying that after this they had travelled to Haridwar and made a new beginning under the shade of independence India .
But Ushaji's story had moved my soul , that I
had to write her memories down on paper .