Five years ago, when I went to Pakistan on an invitation to play a series of golf matches, I inquired about my school in Muzaffarpur district. This was when I first came to know about my real date of birth. My father had entered it as November 1929 in the school records. This means that when I arrived at New Delhi railway station in August 1947, a traumatised refugee who had seen his parents killed before his eyes and had to flee to save his own life, I was just over 17, and did not even know it.
I remember spending the remaining part of that year scrounging around for food on the station. Rich lalas would bring pooris and sabzi and throw the pooris at refugees like us from a distance, to avoid the fracas that would inevitably ensue. There were dead bodies on the station, I would sometimes sleep between them. I lived this existence till I got a job for Rs 10 a month at a shop near Ajmeri Gate.
Our entire village of Gobindpur Kot had been massacred, as the elders had taken a collective decision not to convert to Islam as they had been asked to. Among those killed were my parents and two of my sisters. My elder brother survived; a sepoy in the British army, he was posted at Multan. Two of my other sisters were married and lived elsewhere.
Those days, there would be announcements on the station to help people reconnect with lost kin. That’s how I discovered that my elder sister had somehow reached Shahdara. I went to her, but so hard were the times that her in-laws, equally destitute and refugees themselves, ill-treated me in the worst possible ways.
My most enduring memory of that year is not the birth of India and Pakistan. I could not even comprehend what was happening. As a teenager from a backward village in Pakistan, I had never seen a cycle, car or train. I was completely bewildered at the turn of events. All that mattered was how to get my next meal, usually a roti and an onion.
As told to Chander Suta Dogra
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT