The best revenge is yet to come, she said
We have given the price of blood for this land. Remember it. This is precious and yours. Don’t give it up easily.
"Mom was right in asking me to spend Ramazan here, Nani. Easier rozas (fasts), smaller days than in Canada"
"Yes, beta. There is not much to do here though. There is load shedding and it’s terribly hot; there are not many friends; all the relatives are in Canada, US and UK"
"Why is that, Nani?"
"Beta, they thought they would have a better life elsewhere"
"So why did you not go?"
"This is home. I am not leaving my language, my people and my food. What will I do there? Will I incessantly watch TV programmes about unfamiliar things? At this time of life, I've no one to tell all the art of living I collected for 70 years"
"But, Nani, you are alone and who do you meet here, anyway?"
"My neighbours, some old friends and cousins who still come; then all the young ones from the maids’ household. I teach them"
"You could be with mom in Toronto. She will look after you. I know she has a job that keeps her busy, but she loves you. Even the cold is bearable with heating system in the house"
"Beta, my heart is here. Your grandfather is here in that graveyard. My father's and mother's souls are here. This is home and a passport cannot change that"
"Nani, what happened to your parents? I never saw them and mom has told me things quite vaguely"
Nani sighed and said,
"Well, she never saw them either"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, jaan (dear), I was very young and living in Ludhiana. We had a fair life; we were not too rich, but we were happy. We used to live in a Muslim community. Then one day I heard my parents talking. They were saying we should move to Lahore or Multan. I worriedly enquired as to why and my father replied that it was because they were coming to get us and we will be safer in Pakistan.
I asked him,
"What is Pakistan and what about my friends here?"
My younger sister started crying. Abba (father) consoled her, telling her not to worry.
"Pakistan is home and where home is the heart is", he assured.
We went by cart first and then found a crowded truck. Father was lost for a while. Then in Gurdaspur, we found him. So there we were, in Pakistan and safe in a camp. It was August 16.
Suddenly all hell broke loose. The raiders came; there was gunfire, stampede and they were killing everyone. I hid behind some bodies. After they had gone, I went to see. Abba and Amma lay there, dead. Amma was on top of choti (younger sister) to protect her. But choti was dead too."
"Somehow I got to Lahore. Some good people helped me. After ten days, my uncle in Lahore came and took me home. He had been looking for us for days. I told him about father and he cried. Chacha (paternal uncle) said to me,
"We have given the price of blood for this land. Remember that always. This is precious and yours. Don’t give it up easily."
And, so, my dear, I do remember it and shall not leave. Whatever may go wrong, I am staying here Inshallah. I want the right to stand before Allah one day, to ask him to question all who have cheated this land and to call judgement on the evil that visited in the name of the military, religion, democracy, justice, the rich and uncaring. I am going to ask Allah to impose the best revenge on these people who have spoilt the home that is mine and of another 180 million people. There is a heavy price to be paid yet. Alhamdulillah”
"Nani, you sound angry."
"No, beta, I am extremely determined and very sure."
Note: Historically, Gurdaspur originally seemed to be awarded to Pakistan, with a 51% Muslim population, but then was subdivided with majority areas going to India. This became a high killing field, as population moved either way.
This post originally appeared here.
Read more by Sarfaraz here or follow him on Twitter @sarehman