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The letter that eventually came

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This is a story of three brothers Satnam, Harman and Kartar who were forced to go through the hardships of partition of India in 1947 like numerous others. As destiny would have it, in the resultant imbroglio, Kartar the youngest of the three brothers was left behind in Pakistan while the rest of the family members crossed over to the Indian territory. The time of partition of undivided India, was perhaps the toughest time in the history of modern India that its people were made to go through for no fault of their’s as it was the outcome of a devious and divisive political slugfest between freedom fighters stroking political ambitions. Clearly, neither India nor its people ever needed it but was still pushed down their throats and made to pay an unprecedented price including numerous lives lost. Perhaps the country and the people were predestined to pay the price to breathe in free India. Saving precious lives of their own and their dear ones was the primary concern of the people in the face of communal riots that unleashed at the time. Thousands of people crossing the border on either side bare footed, going without food and water for days together and spending the night at crowded makeshift camps was a common sight. Caring for their children and the elderly and simultaneously carrying the burden of household items, in whatever way they could manage with them at short notice, life could not have been more miserable than this. The partition unleashed untold mayhem, violence, riots, loss of property, wealth and livelihood. Unparalleled hardships befell those who survived the carnage, holding nothing but shattered dreams in their empty palms. People who managed to reach safe havens considered themselves lucky to have been alive for many could not make it to safety and perished midway. And those who survived were on the verge of losing their sanity for they could not come to terms with cruel reality and the grave loss of lives of their near and dear ones as well as that of flourishing life & livelihood. The thought of winning freedom after centuries of subjugation and subordination did not enthuse people as it should have, as the thoughts about having to live a torn life in the aftermath of violence dampened all their enthusiasm. The scars of partition could be seen well after the time of partition, over an extended period of time, even decades later.

partition of india

Image Credit: Quartz

Satnam and Harnam, both brothers had been married back in Pakistan and had measly but regular jobs with the government. But that was no more the case after partition. They had their parents, wives and four children to fend for. Having no jobs, meeting the needs of the larger family proved impossible. Migrants as they were called, took up jobs howsoever menial in order to make the ends meet and provide square meals to the starving family. Satnam and Harnam took up work at a brick kiln just outside Delhi and toiled in harsh conditions to earn a paltry sum as monthly wages. Misery continued for years as they spent all that they earned on children’s education, upkeep & maintenance of the family and medical expenses of their ageing parents. Often they would remember Kartar on whom they had no information even years afterwards, was a constant source of worry and heart burn for the entire family. There was not a single day when ailing parents did not remember their youngest son Kartar with moist eyes. There were days when their mother would just sit idle and stare at empty space, reminiscing old times when theirs was one big happy family before misery struck. 

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Satnam and Harnam, listed the name of their brother Kartar in the lost persons register at the city administrative office. Not much progress was reported every time they went to the office for an update. As years went by, little by little all hope of a reunion with their brother seem to fade until there was none. Whatever faint hope they had in their hearts died away with time. All efforts at locating Kartar seemed futile. There had never been a single communication with the youngest brother since the time of partition. They did not know if their brother was alive or dead. The faint light at the end of a long serpentine tunnel flickered precariously. The memories of their brother did not leave them and they were constantly reminded of how the trio used to play together. Each stood by the others at all times through thick as well as thin. Images of one happy family kept thronging back to cloud their minds. Their parents were too old and frail now which did not allow them much movement. Their eyes had dimmed and sight became hazy and unclear. They were heartbroken and inconsolable. They craved for only one thing before they died and that was reunion with their youngest son.

doctor and patient

Image Credit: Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation

Then one day the doctor announced their father’s imminent death to the family. The doctor stated that their father had lost the will to live and that was pushing him into the mouth of death faster. No treatment howsoever expensive could save his life and the end looked almost certain. Harnam decided to help his father overcome bad health in which ever manner he could, but did not know how.  One day with a piece of paper in hand, Harnam announced happily to his parents that he had received a letter from his brother Kartar and that he was well. On hearing the good news, their parents were overjoyed and a faint smile lit up their face. Their hearts were filled with immense joy like never before. The father grabbed the piece of paper in his hand and kissed it a number of times and held it close to his heart. After much play he gestured to Harnam to fetch a mirror and his turban. The ageing father sat meticulously in front of the mirror and began tying his turban as if some new energy had just been born inside him. His hands shaking uncontrollably and his eyes not allowing much light to pass, tying the turban proved to be an uphill task. Nevertheless, he was filled with renewed hope and was eager enough to dress up suitably to receive his son’s message. Once done, he asked Harman to read the letter to him and he was obliged to comply to his father’s demand. Their mother’s eyes welled up with tears and was happy beyond words. The letter narrated how Kartar had been left behind in Pakistan and that he had tried to search for them but in vain. Now that he had found them, he would soon make arrangements to reunite. The happiness of the ageing parents knew no bounds and there was a newfound hope that they would one day meet up with their youngest son. After a long period of about eight years since separation, the parents had a big reason to look forward to in their barren life, to the homecoming of their third son. It turned out that Kartar had also registered the names of his parents and brothers with the administrative office in Pakistan. Working on the query submitted, the Indian officials had meticulously culled out the details of the family members and brought them together. In the month that followed, the reunion actually took place and the family was relieved of the ghosts of unfortunate event of 1947 and also the health of the ageing parents improved dramatically beyond imagination. In a single stroke, the situation turned from hopeless to one of excitement and optimism. It goes on to prove that when man loses hope, God keeps working tirelessly and perpetually in the background to make things happen for good.

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So, keep the faith because God is with us.  

 

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4 Comments

  1. Geeta Wason March 1, 2019

    My eyes go moist as I write my heartfelt appreciation on this beautifully written short story.it also reminds me of the tales my grandparents and elders told me of those traumatic times when the partition happened.god forbid any nation or it’s people go through this.

    But the one conclusion is keep the faith going.almighty has the best plan.

    Keep enlightening us Chsnakya

    Reply
  2. Kavita Satdev March 23, 2019

    This beautiful short story sums up why we should always maintain our faith in God. When the world seems against us and we lose all hope, he astonishes us with his plan.

    Reply
    1. Sumanjeet Kaur March 23, 2019

      Astonish is the word.

  3. Divya Dhingra March 24, 2019

    Loved the article. It recounts the agonies if the past that countless Indians, including my own grandparents experienced at the time of partition. But what is nicer is that you ended the article very well. We should all have faith in the almighty . That faith alone puts the responsibility on God and he makes things work out for us…

    Reply

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