Ludhiana to Lahore – The Partition


Resting Time
“He’s not dead, there is still life left in him.” “I can’t. I am really exhausted.”
Saadat Hasan Manto

Seeing the Channel 4 documentary on the 60th anniversary of the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan revealed once again the travesty and tragedy of an act which served only the privileged on either side. It is extraordinary how the partition has affected generations thereafter. My grandfather searched for my aunt who was separated during the partition and their long walk from Ludhiana to Lahore to a refugee camp. They eventually settled in Toba Tek Singh, not far from Layallpur (now Faisalabad). His relentless faith in searching for her remained steadfast until he found her in 1975 and she immediately recognised him. The reconciliation was joyous and painful “as if my heart had found my body again” is how my grandfather described it.

My Aunt Anwer on the left, Mum in the middle & Bali my Uncle to the right. Ludhiana Jan 1947

My Aunt,Mum,Uncle Bali

 Compared to my mother’s life, married at age 13 and travelled to Kenya to be with my father, my aunt’s experience of survival and a troubled initial integration back into the family often brought the partition back into sharp focus for her. She grew up in an orphanage and trained as a nurse. She met and married a man of her own choice. She eventually left Pakistan with her husband and settled in Germany. She seldom wants to talk about her experience preferring to forget about it – her life is still hard but it’s full of joy and love. When my grandmother was alive and I visited Pakistan, she would insist that we go to the border and see the lowering of the flag ceremony and exchange of guards. “The Peacocks are at it again” would be her comment. She always had a special place to sit where tea would be brought over and sweetmeat shared between the Pakistani and Indian officials which we would also share. Following the ritual with her, we would then go and find a spot where we could be in close proximity of the Indian side and the people. She would then start her exchange: “There is no difference between us – we look the same and we are from the same earth” and the Indian side would respond likewise. The chat would turn into an hour, then two, she had more strength then I although she was nearing her mid-70’s. She would end her conversation with “Jinnah and Nehru did nothing for us, all they wanted was power.” Her dreams of unity were only dreams and she knew that. In the end, her desire was for absolute peace where the two countries could live side by side “like intelligent adults and not insane carnivorous children”.

How strange 60 years later, the events of August 1947 resonates amongst us outside of the Indian sub-continent. I am grateful to her and my mother for giving me such a rich education into our history, literature and poetry. Something that is so sadly lacking in the younger generations here, who know very little about the history of England let alone the Indian sub-continent and are hell bent on seeing it through ethnic and religious differences.

Seeing the documentary brought my mother and grandmother back to me. I hadn’t thought of my aunt for sometime and I fell asleep with her in mind, imagery of the partition came from the documentary kept on conjuring up passages from Manto’s various writings. The partition of India is so well documented, and for me the work of Manto is so revelatory that it leaves you speechless. I have a deep admiration for his work and also because my family settled in Toba Tek Singh, a place he made famous with a short story about a mental institution and it’s predicament due to the line drawn through Panjab. Manto was important then and he is still relevant today. I would like to share another short sketch by Manto with you, brilliant and succinct; the sketch reveals a particular character trait with a pure genius of observation that Manto possessed. 

The Benefit of Ignorance
The trigger was pressed and the bullet spun out ill-temperedly. The man leaning through the window doubled over without making a sound. The trigger was pressed a second time. The bullet swished through the air, puncturing the water-carrier’s goatskin. He fell on his face and his blood, mixing with water, began to flow across the road. The trigger was pressed a third time. The bullet missed, embedding itself into a mud wall. The fourth felled an old woman. She did not even scream. The fifth and sixth were wasted. Nobody got killed and nobody got wounded. The marksman looked frustrated, when suddenly a running child appeared on the road. He raised his gun and took aim.
“What are you doing?” his companion asked.
“Why?”
“You are out of bullets.”
“You keep quiet. What does a little child know?”
Saadat Hasan Manto

Both sketches appear in “Partition – Sketches and Stories by Saadat Hasan Manto”. Translated from the Urdu by Khalid Hasan and published by Viking Penguin Books India 1991.

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36 Responses to “Ludhiana to Lahore – The Partition”

  1. Sehur Says:

    This article is a real eye-opener and really helped me to recognise what my family went through and how the partition made them stronger for the future. I look up to them and what they went through when they were at such a small age and it’s important for us younger generations to keep history in mind as it does make our future.

  2. shakila Says:

    Dear Sehur,
    Indeed as you have so aptly put it; “it’s important for us younger generations to keep history in mind as it does make our future” is very true because if we don’t know our past we don’t know our future. The way that we see and hear news is often without a historical context – so most people are confused as to why certain things happen. The more we take responsibility for the more openness there will be and the partition of India along with the slave trade are very good examples of how Britain has acknowledged its role in both instances.

  3. judith scott Says:

    I found Shakila’s account deeply moving. I, too, watched, horrified, the film of the partition of India. I often reflect with sadness at how as human beings we seem to become obsessed by our differences instead of celebrating the fact that we all belong to the one human race.
    How true are the comments that we see and hear news often without any historical context.
    The other day I saw the film “Amazing Grace” and it made me feel deeply ashamed of the past history of my ancestors. I guess we all somewhere in our history have events we would rather had never happened! But at the same time there are people like Wilberforce, Ghandi, Mandela, Martin Luther King that point the way to our common humanity.
    Problem is to try and reach out to all our younger generations – a daunting task indeed! But we must never give up reaching across those barriers.

  4. About Film Ludhiana to Lahore – The Partition « Says:

    […] Posts Ludhiana to Lahore – The PartitionThe Sorrow of WarHeer Ranjha – The Cinema of Chetan AnandI…Proud to be British AsianIraq: The […]

  5. rohit kumar Says:

    hello,
    really i love if india pakistan once again …one country ,its very painfull . i am in india .38 male…..
    and i have several freinds in pakistan they also love india….
    bye

  6. sanddep singh Says:

    i dont like war. i want to see india and pak together.i love all people of pak… there is no hate about them in our indian hearts.

  7. Rishi Says:

    i m also from ludhiana

    hello to all and thanks to shakila

    first time i visit this site

    • shakila Says:

      Dear Rishi,

      A belated reply – many apologies – good to hear from Luhiana – do visit the site again. All the best. Shakila

      • Muhammad Says:

        Dear Shakila
        AoA
        Nice to read your article. I think your Anti Baji Gudoo must have mentioned my name to you. In my book “Jatt Kaloon Ke Dais main” I have also mentioned your family story. Now a days I am writting a book “1947 MAIN LUDHIANA PER KIA BEETI” if u allow me I like to include the above article in my book. Thanks

        Muhammad Aslam Faisalabad Pakistan

  8. Iftikhar Ahmad Says:

    Now it is not possible that India-Pakistan become one country.Relations between India-Pakistan are possible like between Canada-USA. Both countries can allow their citizens to visit each other freely!!

  9. anwar Says:

    hi i m anwar malik from ludhiana . me & my all friend want india 7 pak gets one nation.we were basically from nawanshehar distt. mukandpur. my relative from sarhala distt. hoshiarpur setteled in gojra lahore & chinot

  10. Amjad Says:

    We should forget the past. Recent experiences show that we cannot live together. Let us try to live like good neighbours. We have an example of European Union. We can turn SAARC into South Asean Union, if we really are keen to live together lovingly. Pakistan and India can never be one country again. Not atleast in near future.

  11. Amjad Says:

    My father belonged to Jalandhar, and my mother was from Ludhyana. I have very special place in my heart for both these cities. I also feel pain for the atrocities of the partition. But, we should face the reality. We are two seprate Nations, two soverign countries now. Let us learn to live peacefully in friendly atmosphere, that will be the best option for both the countries.

  12. subodh Says:

    war is not the solution. When we stand in front of mirror,every one should ask a question to himsef/herself: “What is I?an animal or a good person?Do I remember how was I at the time of birth and how will be I at the time of death.”How can a person kill to another person?I request to every human being live on this beautiful earth,please please please LOVE and LIVE and LET LIVE

  13. IQBAL RATTA Says:

    I am lawyer by profession but also an avid reader of history. I have gone through the problem shared by two countries. I assure you that this has nothing to do with MUSLIM KASHMIRIS. Real problem is control of WATERS of 6 rivers INDUS, CHENAB, ZEHLUM, RAVI, BEAS, SUTLEJ. As per 1962 INDUS WATER TREATY water of 3 rivers INDUS, CHENAUB and ZEHLUM was assigned to PAKISTAN. Trouble spot for PAKISTAN is that these rivers pass through part of KASHMIR under Indian Control. It apprehends of INDIA some day controlling the water of these rivers to harm interest of PAKISTAN. For this reason PAKISTAN is not ready to accept LOC as BORDER and wants to have full control over entire KASHMIR. If that happens control over other two rivers RAVI, BEAS shall go under PAKISTAN. INDIA can not afford to do so. Thus, dispute essentially is with regard to water of rivers. KASHMIRI YOUTH is just used as fodder by human-animals. Let us plan to stop it. Only Solution is both countries unite and become one NATION as federation of two STATES. Both States can have separate local laws.

  14. IQBAL RATTA Says:

    I am a lawyer by profession and also an avid reader of history. I have gone through the problem shared by two countries. I assure you that this has nothing to do with MUSLIM KASHMIRIS. Real problem is control of WATERS of 6 rivers INDUS, CHENAB, ZEHLUM, RAVI, BEAS, SUTLEJ. As per 1962 INDUS WATER TREATY water of 3 rivers INDUS, CHENAUB and ZEHLUM was assigned to PAKISTAN. Trouble spot for PAKISTAN is that these rivers pass through part of KASHMIR under Indian Control. Its apprehension that some day INDIA shall control the water of these rivers to harm PAKISTAN’s interest . For this reason PAKISTAN is not ready to accept LOC as BORDER and wants to have full control over entire KASHMIR. If that happens, control over other two rivers RAVI, BEAS shall go under PAKISTAN. INDIA can not afford to accept this position. Thus, dispute essentially is with regard to water of rivers. KASHMIRI YOUTH is just used as fodder by human-animals. Let us plan to stop it. Only Solution is that both countries unite and become one NATION as federation of two STATES. Both States can have separate local laws.

  15. vinay singh Says:

    the most painful history of partition is solely responsible to the teachings & acts of Muslims worldwide.they are the most blind & uncivilised people in the world infact beasts whose place is not in this society but in jungle.they cant compete the other races in any way so they use the outdated & rotten teachings of their religion to protect them.the recent example is Afghanistan.nothing is to say except to pray to God either give muslims brain or wipe out them from this beautiful world to give peace to others.

    • Shakila Maan (@shakilamaan) Says:

      Vinay Singh please get rid of your hatred, its childish and lacks intelligence and grace. You are a better person than this. Your way of thinking means that no human will be left on earth and if only your type are left the inbreeding will destroy that too. Perhaps that is what should happen? Your type will no longer exist!

      • Nazirk Khawaja Says:

        How marrily Mr. Viney has accused the entire muslim community of well over 1.5 billion people. While I am not suggesting that Hindu Or Sikh Communities did not suffer at the hands of the muslims, but the kind of fate that was meted out to innocent children, women & even unborn children by Sikhs & Hindus is no fiction. My friend you need to grow out of this state of mind and moves toward some kind sanity. We have already seen enough of madness.

  16. Muhammad Says:

    Dear Shakila
    AoA
    Nice to read your article. I think your Anti Baji Gudoo must have mentioned my name to you. In my book “Jatt Kaloon Ke Dais main” I have also mentioned your family story. Now a days I am writting a book “1947 MAIN LUDHIANA PER KIA BEETI” if u allow me I like to include the above article in my book. Thanks

    Muhammad Aslam Faisalabad Pakistan

    • shakila Says:

      Dear Muhammad,
      Sorry took so long to get back to you – if you have not finished the book and have room, please do include the article and you have my permission to publish the photo – please attribute the photo to the ‘Akhtar Sultana Collection’ – if I can any other help then please do let me know. Best wishes, Shakila

  17. Nazir Ahmad Khawaja Says:

    My name is Nazir Ahmad Khawaja. I am approaching 70. I was about 4 1/2 years when I left Ludhiana with my mother. I remember my stay in the camp. It was a place alonge the rail track.. I cannot recall how long we stayed over there. I also do not recall my train journey from Ludhiana to Lahore. What I remember if our arrival at Herbans Pura railway station. I heard someone saying “Harbans Pura aa Gia,” Get some milk for the children.

    Vivisection on Indian subcontinent was in the name of religion. In my opinion it was for the vested interest of political leadership of all parties. Be it British, Hindu or Muslim leadership, innocent people who were secrificed for their selfish motived will grab their collars one day.

    As goes my love for Ludhiana, I cannot explain that. Though I was just over 4 when I left my place of birth, I still roam around the streets of Ludhiana on Google map. Is it or is’nt it foolish

    • shakila Says:

      Dear Nazir, your comment made my heart ache – there is no foolishness in roaming the streets of Ludhiana, albeit via Google map, made me think of Ghalib – “hai itney yaar bitchdey, kayaamat par bhi na miley, Shia alag, Sunni alag, naaek juda, baad juda… I cannot even begin to understand your loss – perhaps we’ll meet on the street of Ludhiana, via Google – yes I do that too – Ludhiana and Toba Tek Singh! Thank you for your comment and take care. Shakila

    • Amjed Says:

      Khawaja Sahab,

      I am a born Pakistani, a born Lahori, as I was born in 1951, But, still, I have very special place for a small village named Phoolpur, in distt. Jalandhar. My late father died in 1971, and I have heard a lot about jalandhar from my late father. Till his last breath, he was missing Phoolpur. I can realise how you feel about your ancestral place. My mother belonged to Ludhiana and I love to gather information about the the place and strrt where she was born and lived. Its’ a human nature, we cannot froget our roots.

      • Nazir Khawaja Says:

        Hello Amjad Sahib, thank you for the message. This phenominan is a mystry for me. What association one can have with a place he has never even see. I think it is indirect association with your loved ones. Take care

    • shakila Says:

      Dear Nazir Ahmad,

      Thank you so much for responding to my Blog on “Ludhiana to Lahore” – my mother was a the eldest out of the three and losing her sister on the long walk was devastating but finding her years later in the early 70’s was a relief. She told me of her memories as did my grandmother so I was able to write this Blog. I too go on Google map and see the city and other smaller villages nearby that my ancestors are from. I wish you and your family all the best. Shakila Maan

      • Nazir Khawaja Says:

        Hello Shakila, Is’nt it strange that my love for the place of my birth is so grained in me that after almost 65 years it is still the most important place in the entire world for me. I have my birth right over Ludhiana & I hope the people at the helm of the affairs also understand this.

      • shakila Says:

        Hello Nazir, yes you are right when you say that your place of birth is so ingrained; I feel that way about Kenya having left the country when I was 12 years old – it was nothing like what you experienced but it was a forced departure… I always feel that I will go back and live there and I have no idea why I feel that like that. I think as human beings we do develop a link to the place we are born in and we always want to return and never feel settled in ourselves – I know my grandmother and her brothers and cousins never felt settled after they left Ludhiana and they were adults when they had to flee…. I think its hard for us as a species to learn our historical lessons; somehow we want to continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. I hope this finds you in good health and wish you a happy new year for 2013. All the best, Shakila

    • Amjed Saleem Alvi Says:

      I had never been to Jalandhar, the city of my father. I was born in Lahore in 1951. But I had heard a lot about Jalandhar from my late father. It was very excitting moment for me when I searched, after a long time spending in searching, the Mission Compund, where my father was student of Mission High school from 1904 to 1910. I hope one day I will physically roam the streets of Jalandhar and Phoolpur, village of my father, inshaAllah.

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    • shakila Says:

      Thank you for your comment. This post is written by me and is about my family – very pleased that it touched you in this way. Wishing you the best. Shakila

  20. Rana noman Says:

    my elders from ludehana tehsil samrla we are ghorewah rajpoot i miss alot my eldrz in village uduwal,talwandi,jalndr thay was safad posh,zeldar,potwari in britsh time.(ch munshi khan,abdul majid khan rana,dolat khan rana)river satluj.now we sitll in pak toba tek singh tehsil faisalabad.me dream me watch ludehana jalandar and me village in india.

  21. shakila Says:

    Thank you for your comment – I hope you get to visit jalandar. Wishing you the best and good health. Shakila


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