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Jalandhar

Posted at: Aug 13, 2017, 1:30 AM; last updated: Aug 13, 2017, 1:30 AM (IST)

A double tragedy for them since 1947

Aakanksha N Bhardwaj

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 12

A slight knock at the door breaks the sleep of Banso Devi, 78. The hope of seeing someone from her family emerges for her, but gets dashed in a second on seeing someone else. She gets up and is ready to eat the lunch that has been served to her by one of the attendants at the Vridh Ashram here.

This is what life has for her and for another elderly, Prakash Rani, 90, who has been living in the adjacent ward. They both don’t know each other but have the same fate. Their journeys that started from Pakistan have ended here at this ashram.

Both have seen their life’s biggest tragedies. In 1947, they had to leave their homes in Pakistan and now they were turned out of their homes by their own kin.

Banso Devi, a hollow-cheeked elderly, who has extremely low vision, said she had never understood the concept of Independence. She was almost 8 when she came here with her parents from Sialkot and other family members.

“Pehle 1947 vich main apne ghardeya naal apne ghar chhadke ethe aae, odo mushkil naal jaan bachai, te hun aapneya ne ghar to kadd ditta,” she said trying not to cry.

After adjusting her dupatta, and making sure that the stick is lying beside her which she would need to walk properly, she again started the conversation.

She said, “During Partition, such was the terror among the parents for their girls that when I would sleep, one male member of the family would always stand beside me when we were at the camps.” 

“Because people at that time would abduct girls and my parents and family protected me very well and today I am here abandoned by my own, what Independence is it?” she asked, saying her children had left her here.

On the other hand, Prakash Rani, who just finished eating, after which she keeps a pill under her tongue to normalise her heart beat, says she does not clearly remember the agony of Partition, but definitely remembers her village Sargodha and how they were well established there.

When asked her about the pain of “azadi”, she went through, Rani who was unable to open her eyes, said due to old age, said, “Main us umar de vich socheya si ki shayad eh akhiri din hai, shayad asi mare javange, par osto baad main roz mar rahi haan.” She could not hide her emotions and started weeping and said this is what her life has come to after “azadi”.

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