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  • Writer's pictureKapil

Lessons from my Grandmother

My Dadi (paternal grandmother) is a survivor of the partition. Her family used to live in a village called Thatta, close to the town of Karachi. Her father was well off in terms of resources. He had many acres of land, reared horses and cows, lived in a spacious house - with silver-lined doors.

In 1947, when the partition happened, they had to choose between continuing to live as-is or fleeing to India with the other Hindus. They had a narrow escape once when their Muslim neighbours gave them a safe harbour in their underground grain store during a riot. As the rioting and killings began, the choice seemed quite clear! They took a steamer from Karachi to Mumbai. They left for India with just a suitcase each.

They had to begin their lives again from scratch. After a few days in a refugee camp, they were supported by members of their Lohana community in Mumbai, who gave them a roof over their heads and food to eat. In her first host family, my grandmother met my grandfather, the youngest son of her host family in Mumbai. They eventually married each other in 1957, giving birth to my dad a year later.

Where there is shade, there is also light: What do we focus on?
Where there is shade, there is also light: What do we focus on?

My grandmother tells the stories with a lot of nostalgia and fondness. However, I don't sense any regret in her voice. She keeps reiterating - "At least we were all safe together." There is a deep sense of gratitude for everything that worked in her favour and everyone who supported their transition. Even today, I find her living with a high degree of contentment, despite many difficulties in her old age. These memories fuel her, despite severe dementia that has diminished her ability to remember any new events in life.

From my grandmother, I have learned the power of gratitude and abundance. It has transformed the way I lead my life. It has helped improve my relationships with other people, beings and the universe. Despite the partition's intergenerational trauma, this intergenerational strength has been a gift for me!

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