Pakistan. No, this is not exactly my home, but a home in Pakistan. Yes, you read it correct. It is in Jarranwala, Pakistan. It is the house where my paternal grandmother grew up.
Yes, it is still there.
No, I haven’t been there.
A kind hearted photographer named Abid from the neighbouring country aligned with my brother Mandeep Singh, went to the city, and searched the records. He sent those records back to us. My father, who had recently learnt the Urdu language, studied those records, got clues from my grandmother, and gave the information to Abid, and finally that guy was able to figure out the said house. It still stands there. There is still a shop in front of it. It is still the corner house. And the tree still stands on the crossroad.
It is the home of my grandmother. And so is there a home which belonged to my paternal grandfather once in Layallpur, and there might stand a house in Rawalpindi, which once belonged to my maternal grandfather and his family.
Is this my house? I wouldn’t say it is. But ask my grandmother, and that is her own house. I saw her excitement on seeing the pictures, and happiness while being in touch with someone from ‘that’ side. I wonder… Was it fair to them? To ask them to leave their lives, their homes, their fortunes, their assets, and their everything, and come to this land, which was ‘the other’ side for them? History says, yes. But that generation’s pain, and longing, and horrendous memories, all tell another story. Politics, and history have stolen so much from that generation.
No one can understand this pain except them. I do not know why I relate to it so much! I wonder why I cry every time I think of the injustice. Maybe some old ties which I don’t know of.
We have heard numerous stories of Partition, some of which seem to be too hard to be true. But they are. But I wonder if the people who have not seen anyone reminiscing that period, someone who has gone through it, even know the extent of it. No, they don’t. But being from a family, whose both sides have suffered the pain of Partition, I do understand all of it.
And then I feel, why is the world so! Why can’t there be love, and peace and harmony!
The only wish of people like my grandmother is, to visit their ‘home’. But we know how tough it is to take her there. I do plan to visit Haridwar soon, to trace both sides of my family back, as far as I can. Haridwar is where Hindus go to submerge the ashes of their departed family members. There was a time before the reform moments in Sikh religion, that even the Sikhs used to do the same. There are ‘pandits’ (priests) in Haridwar, who keep records of all the deaths in a particular region, caste, or family. These records go back to generations. It is surprisingly not difficult to find the one you need, who has your family history. Anyone who goes to Haridwar gets the deaths registered with the pandits, along with some other important details of the dead.
I do not know why, but I want to trace my family. My effort is to do it before the ‘Partition Generation’ gets wiped out. My paternal grandmother is 93 years old. My maternal grandfather and his brothers and sisters, save one younger brother and sister, have already passed away. I need to hurry to trace them back, so that if luck allows, I can go and visit the place from where my ancestors came.
P.S. I miss having an ancestral home or a town, or a village. I do not have any. I do have, but I can’t visit. I do not know where I came from.