MOTHER’S BUNDLE OF STRAWS‎ > ‎B-2‎ > ‎B-3‎ > ‎B-4‎ > ‎


Now, it was the turn of my fourth brother, Kishore, who was five years my senior. Kishore with great difficulty had passed his eighth class examination. He decided to open his own shop to deal with wheat and grain futures. He was a worldly-wise young man ready to take on any business to make money and believed in spending very little, if he could help it. His secret formula for earning money was a pilgrimage to Haridwar every month on Ekadashi ( the eleventh day of the moon). He would go, take a bath in the Ganges and return home by the first available train. He believed that Gods or Goddesses had to be propitiated at any cost. He often attended night-long vigils for Mata Vaishnodevi held in all parts of Lahore.1 He was convinced that his success in business was due to the blessings of the Mother Goddess.

Kishore, like Sohan, also got his bride through one of his clients. Her father found him honest, hard working and affectionate. The marriage party went from Lahore to a small town called Fatehgarh Churian in Gurdaspur district. This time the marriage party stayed for three nights and we were again looked after very well by the girl's family. The girl belonged to the Khatri family of Pandhis. My new sister-in-law was only 15 or 16 (almost my age) and still a child. She was not too well versed in household affairs. My older sister-in-law was not happy with new bride as she could not do her share of the cooking, but managed to live with it by meekly agreeing, “She is still a young girl. Will learn one day”, she would announce patronisingly.

My mother had successfully married four sons but she was losing her battle to keep them together under one roof. Her two stepsons had already found their separate places. Her two oldest sons were with still with her in Lahore despite their urge to go their own way. Four younger sons, including me were still dependent. Three of us were in College and one was still in school. Bauji (our father) had ‘retired’ and our home ran on our brothers’ earnings. I made some money by working part-time in a newspaper.

Mother's next worry was my marriage. I was getting too old at 21 and search was started for a wife for me. She was looking for a nice girl from a good family who would keep the family united and under one roof. Mother wanted to hold all of us together. She desperately tried to keep 'the bundle of straw' together. But, the bundle was bound to disintegrate sooner or later. Partition happened and life, thereafter, could never be the same.

Partition affected millions of people. Some lost their loved ones, some lost all their wealth and property, many lost their mental peace as they failed to adjust with the new realities. For me, New India opened up a new world of freedom and opportunities. I really grew up in independent India. In Lahore, I was under the shadow of a society with centuries old in-built restrictions. It did not allow independent thinking or action. Nor did it accept innovative ideas. Partition literally uprooted the Punjabis from their long established patterns within fraternities and caste based relationships. We would probably never have voluntarily left our city or Mohalla.

1 After independence he sought every opportunity to visit the shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi in Jammu province. It was around 500 kms from Delhi, his new home town. Mata Vaishnodevi was certainly pleased and he made good money but would also lose it as fast in other business ventures. Till his death (in 1997) and despite arthritis, he seldom defaulted in going on an annual pilgrimage to Mata Vaishnodevi shrine.