Kids Corner

All images: scenes from a village in present day Pakistani Punjab.

Partition

The Partition & I: What I Lost

by S.J. KAUR

 

 

In 1947, four Sikhs - a couple, a young man and a teenage girl - fled their respective homes. Uprooted, ravaged, humiliated - all they wanted was to live.

And live they did with all the passion of those who have lost - everything.

This was my grandparents' story.

Their strength amazes me.

Out of nothing they built everything.

I always considered the events of Partition to be their story.

I could not have been more wrong.

Something strange stirred within me when I was pregnant. Home to me has always been a noisy suburb throbbing with life. But now I craved for the comfort of a quiet village, fields and dirt - it was the quiet throb of a piece of earth that I longed for; one that I had never set foot on.

Suddenly the Partition of 1947 became immensely personal.

I was separated from the one thing that I ached for.

Was it because I was bringing a new life into this world?

The yearning, the craving was intense.

I can still feel in my heart something strong stirring. I try to imagine the texture of that dirt in my fist as I rub it between my fingers. Why?

And so, just like my grandparents weaved my parents and all their stories together, they also weaved my husband and me into the rich fabric of their story; and included in it all the stories that came with my life-partner.

Today, every generation of my family lives in different countries.

When I ask myself, where my roots lay, I can only think of a village left behind in today's Pakistan.

 A name is all I have...

 

The Partition and I

 

Criss-crossed

On my womb,

My arms clutch

With ferocity

 

Our unborn, our seed.

 

My body bends,

Dissolves,

Into heart-breaking sobs;

Silent screams ring through my head...

All I want...

Is a fistful of earth.

 

Lay my tired self

Under the massive tree,

Lay on this earth

Feel it pulse through my veins.

 

And I want it so bad.

 

Tears spill out

Forcing me to face

An incomprehensible truth -

The blood-drenched dirt Cries out,

 

...Calls

 

Two generations later?

 

I must go,

I will.

 

To find my tree

To find its roots

To feel,

To caress,

To clasp that lost earth

And lock its scent.

 

To return

 

And

 

Bring back some lost past.

 

Some lost part

Of what lingers,

In that ravaged Earth.

 

A seed needs roots

She must have her dues.

 

All I have is a name.

 

Now I need a fistful of Earth.

 

 

January 22, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: Harinder (Bangalore, India), January 22, 2010, 8:12 AM.

My ancestors belong to Sargodha (now in Pakistani Punjab) and many in the current generations are scattered all over the globe, from America to Australia. A big journey they have undertaken by forces they never imagined would be let loose on them. First, 1947! And then, 1984! We need to study our history carefully to determine why we are so vulnerable ... and how to overcome our continued exposure.

2: Inni Kaur  (Fairfield, CT, U.S.A.), January 22, 2010, 2:52 PM.

1947 and 1984 have become part of the Sikh DNA. They surface at the most unexpected moments and bring a sadness that envelopes the soul.

3: Tejwant Singh (Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.), January 22, 2010, 7:48 PM.

S.J Kaur, Wow! Partition of 1947. The invisible wall of division. Where love of the past became the disdain of the moment. Innocent people uprooted like giant trees crumbling due to this hurricane. But the winds are invisible, the leaves are still. The tempest is within. People pushed, kicked, slaughtered and thrown on the other side of the invisible wall. The unseen crack on the Earth became a gorge deeper than the Grand Canyon. SJ, you do not need a fistful of Earth. You have the world within. The womb is the globe, In which a new tree is taking roots. This one, I am sure, will be nurtured by the two caretakers, So that it can become the tree under which all humanity can live with harmony. No more walls. Visible nor invisible. What was partition has become unity. All as one who serve The ONE.

4: SSN (Athens, Georgia, U.S.A.), February 03, 2010, 6:31 PM.

Even though I am a young lad, but the thought of Partition makes me wanna cringe. We lost a cultural connection, yet learned little from it.

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