As India celebrates its Independence Day on August 15, we're also reminded of those countless stories that haunt us even today, 76 years after partition.
Pakistan's Nasir Dhillon reminds us of one such partition tale. As part of our Women of Independence series Independence, this Independence Day, we spoke to Dhillon about Pakistan's Sheikhpura resident Sakina Bibi and they very heartily obliged with their story that leaves us in thought and overwhelmed.
Sakina Bibi's family faced the pain of partition not once but twice. History wasn't kind to her family, especially her mother Karmate Bibi who first got separated from her husband, and then her son. Karmate Bibi died young submerged in grief of not being able to see her son. Sakina Bi's quest to make fulfil her mother's last wish, decades after her death, finally came true this year.
Sakina Bibi recalls her family's Independence story, the pain of going through partition not once but twice, how history wasn't kind to her mother, finding her long-lost brother after seven decades, and why love outshines every border humans create.
Story Of Partition
‘In 1947 during partition, my father Wali Mohammad was brought to Pakistan while my mother Karmate Bibi was left behind in India after she went missing. In 1949, governments on both sides decided to send back women, who were left behind, to their respective families.
The military returned my mother to Pak from Jassowal district Ludhiana, and this time around, my Veer Ji (brother) Gurmail Singh, was left behind - he was playing elsewhere at the time she was taken by authorities & couldn’t bring him as they rushed her across the border to avoid villagers’ opposition. I was born a few years after she returned to be with my father. She died when I was a kid. In 1961, I stumbled upon a letter written and a picture of a young boy in a box; it was then that I learned I had a brother back in India; where? I didn’t know. My father recalled they received letters from my Veer Ji’s side (he was illiterate so someone else wrote on his behalf) but they couldn’t figure out where exactly he lived due to illiteracy & circumstance back then.
I knew it was time to find him. With Nasir Dhillon and Gurdarshan Singh’s help, a proper search for my brother began last year. In 2022, I spoke to Veer Ji for the first time on call. At that heart-wrenching moment, he learned he’d long lost a mother he yearned for his entire life & gained a sister whose existence he had no idea of. I’m grateful to all who left no stone unturned to make this happen, a dream I thought will die with me. It took a year for Veer Ji to get his passport. This year, finally, we met at Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan. I took a Rakhi for him and he brought baked biscuits for me. I wished him As-salamu alaykum and he greeted me with Sat Sri Akaal and, despite our different faiths, I felt we were one and the same. There are forces in the universe that can’t be explained and the two of us meeting at this age proves it. We spoke about our lives and hugged each other tearful goodbye with a promise to meet again. I know my mother is smiling from above; she died yearning for the child she left behind, and whenever my time comes, I can go in peace knowing I did my all to let that child know his family loved him and waited for him.’
Suggested reading: 'The Lines Of Separation' Tells A Thought-Provoking Tale Of Partition