This is a story about the legacies of the Partition and the migration for a new life in the UK.
This story is part of Independence Stories and was made in a 5-day workshop at Easton Community Centre with members of the Asian Day Centre. The workshop focussed on the personal “Independence” stories of Bristol based people from South Asian backgrounds, reflecting life in India and Pakistan, and the legacies of partition.
The workshop was led by Bristol based digital animation artist Tajinder Dhami, Aikaterini Gegisian and Paddy Uglow from the Bristol Stories team, with extra support by Nathan Hughes.
Independence Stories was produced by Asian Arts Agency in partnership with Watershed, Bristol Stories, Asian Day Centre and Images of Empire Archive, and was supported by Awards for all and Quartet funds.
On 15th August 1947 India gained her independence from British Colonial rule. The reins of Indian Government were handed over to Jawaharlal Nehru as first P.M. of Independent Democratic of India. At the midnight hour of the 15th of August, Pandit Nehru addressed Constituent Assembly in New Delhi. He said: “At the stoke of midnight hour when the world sleeps, India will awake to the life of freedom.” Today India is one of most leading economies with a vast industrialisation program coupled with rich heritage. I am proud to be born and brought up in a country where saints taught us “Love thy neighbour. Share happiness and grief”.
I was born in Punjab in a High Middle Class family. We were four sisters and one brother. My two sisters were married prior to Independence. My brother who was qualified doctor from Lahore moved to Calcutta to pursue his further studies, Masters in Surgery. His car was attacked by the Muslim League mob in July 1947 while he was on the way to see his ill patient. As a result my brother lost his eye.
In those days telephone and the electric connections were only available in big cities, not in towns and villages. Every day Muslim league was demonstrating and shouting in the street “Muslim League – ZINDABAAD”, carrying knives and lathis, waving around to kill Hindu Community.
My parents were very protective of my and my younger sister who was, at the time, 3 years old. We were not allowed to peep through windows. Our servants were keeping vigil to protect us by night and day. We felt a prisoner in our own homes. People were only allowed for a few hours to shop the necessities when the curfew was off.
We had no electric or telephone in those days connected, and we burnt candles and Kerosene lamps by night. We had no contact with our relatives who were caught in West Punjab and my brother in Chitagong that was East Pakistan.
My brother returned alive but my other relative never returned to East Punjab. Some people were rejoicing and we were grieving. Some of the families paid an unrecoverable loss. Time is a great healer and these had to be forgotten and move on in this life.
Indian archive pictures created by Images of Empire, used under copyright licence.
Family pictures created by Members of the Nandwari family, used under copyright licence.