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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

“People perish. Only memories remain.”

I come from a close-knit family and share/d wonderful bond of friendship and guidance with three of my five (fraternal side) grand-fathers as well as my maternal grand-father. An immensely enriching experience, a precious feeling, this is one of the things that will always hold much significance in my life.

My own grand-father passed away in 2011. All through my childhood, I grew-up listening to first-hand account of numerous tales about his life from pre-partition days that he spent in Lahore, Sindh, and Quetta Balochistan, which is now in present day Pakistan.

                                                  “People perish. Only memories remain.”

Unfortunately, the urgency of documenting/recording our legacy – the importance and need of preserving them never really occurred to me, until I chanced upon The 1947 Partition Archive website in Feb 2016.

At that very moment, I thought, “my own grand-father may have gone but I still have three of them with me”. So, I didn’t want to lose this opportunity once again and keep-safe our legacy and this was enough to sign up for such a wonderful initiative.

So the first interview I took was that of one of the four brothers of my grand-father. The hearing ability of Mr. Balraj in the last few years has deteriorated, still he refuse to wear any hearing aid. When we told him about this project, initially he contemplated a little if it would be right to share his story with such a wider audience. But then he got ready to share his side of story.

After I interviewed him, (I already know my own late grand-father’s story) I realised this is his unique story- a journey of a 15 year old boy who had to leave his home to make a new one in a different place, to start his life afresh in an unknown land. His excitement of sharing his life story at the time of interview was difficult to miss.

To a greater extent, I believe by being part of (even if by just listening to) their life story, I am the one who has gained most from these tales of strength, struggles and exemplary will-power and resilience. The fact they opened up and talked about their wounds, their most vulnerable feelings makes me feel like the luckiest person on this planet.

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