“The camps were a suffocating room, full of tears. Countless bodies were strewn all along the way, left for vultures to feed on”.
It was a journey she would never forget. For Amandeep Kaur, it has been 68 long years since she left home. The tears have dried up since, yet the pain of the wound inflicted by partition is still deep within, never to be healed.
After gaining independence from British Raj, India was divided into two separate countries- India and Pakistan. A major population exchange happened with around 25 million people relocating to their new homes. The magnitude of horror and suffering that followed was unimaginable. There were brutal killings and religious riots all along the border, marking it as the darkest period in the history of both the countries.
A Lake of Blood & Tears- Source: Life Magazine. An image that shows the magnitude of brutality!!
Amandeep’s village fell right where the border was drawn. And like many others, along with her family she travelled across the border, to restart her life, in a new territory, unknown and foreign. “We travelled for days sometimes on foot, sometimes on little bullock carts, a luxury at that time. Food and water was scarce. There were villages along the way that were left abandoned. We feasted on the remains left behind in such homes. After moving from camp to camp we finally settled down in Ludhiana to start life afresh. We were the lucky ones, all 9 members of my family managed to reach safely across the border. Many others were not so lucky”, said Amandeep. “More than the horrific journey, what pains me more is leaving behind my friends and homeland. I have cried for nights, longing to be with them. We use to sit on the Charpoy on a clear moonlit night in my village, and chat with Shabnam my dear buddy. I know I may never see her again”. Tears welled up in her eyes as she said this.
At 88 years old, Amandeep now spends most of her time reading the Guru Granth Sahib and watching her great grandchildren playing in the courtyard of the spacious family home in Ludhiana. She wishes to visit her homeland, where she was born, grew up and entered wedlock, at least once.
India and Pakistan were once upon a time a single country. We share a common history, from the times of the Indus Valley Civilization. Yes we did have different religions, but historically, we have co-existed together. What really split us apart into two different nations was nothing but politics and the inflated egos of a few. The price of which, both nations are still paying- of living apart, of animosity and destruction.
Many of us till date breed this animosity in our minds against the neighboring nation. Besides, there is an element of indifference in many. “What could really be done now, the country was divided in 1947”- is the thought among many.
Well we could do something. At least reduce this animosity. The issues we currently face are because of a group of radical thinking individuals and not because of a country at large.
- Small beginnings start from home.
- Let’s breed positive thoughts within us.
- Speak about it to those around us.
- Teach our children, the next generation that breeding negativity and a feeling of hostility, is not to be the order of the day.
- Remember, our next generation, our children could be future policy makers.
Somewhere I am glad our movies are constantly re-visiting and scripting stories based on partition. It serves as a constant reminder of what such a disaster could do to nations. The latest one being Salman Khans Bajrangi Bhaijaan. The film apparently revolves around a young speech-impaired girl from Pakistan who finds herself lost in India with no way to head back over the border to her home. An Indian man (Salman Khan) undertakes the task to get her back to her home and reunite her with her family.
I leave you with a brilliantly made advertisement By Coke. This video “Join Hands” speaks volumes.