| Daya Rani Dhingra at her residence in Motihari. Telegraph picture |
Motihari, Sept. 12: The pain of displacement from homeland is writ large on the wrinkled face of 87-year-old Daya Rani Dhingra.
Her weary eyes swell with tears at the mention of Sikh families being displaced from the Swat Valley and other territories of North West Frontier Province in Pakistan in the past few years.
Daya Rani Dhingra was forced to leave her home in Lahore and come to India during partition.
She said she could relate with the sufferings of the people who are running away from their birthplace in search of a refuge elsewhere.
Images of migration, riots, fear and deaths are clear in her mind even after 63 years of partition. She was a young woman of 25 years when she and thousands others like her became victims of a division forced on them by the decision- makers of the country.
Mention of Pakistan makes her angry but then she also has fond memories of her childhood and days of youth spent in the country.
The lanes, the shops, the neighbours, the friends, she recalls them all without any effort, but wonders what it is like after so many years.
A graduate in English from Fatehchand College, Lahore, Daya Rani spoke to The Telegraph about the “divide and rule” policy adopted by the British officers in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar.
“They did every thing to add to the strength of fundamentalists. Around one-third of Hindu population from Baluchistan, Punjab and Sindh provinces were forced to flee, thanks to the upsurge in fundamentalist forces,” she said.
Talking about her family’s migration from Lahore, she said her father had two houses, one in Kulachi village and another in Lahore city. Both had to be vacated at the time of partition.
The journey from Lahore to this side of border was full of pain, fear and despair. They didn’t know what lied ahead for them, they feared if they would ever reach to the other side.
Remembering Lahore before 1944, Daya Rani said it was the centre of Anglo-Islamic culture. In her college, she was the favourite student of teachers like Teji Kaur (later Bachchan) and Freza Bedi (mother of cine star Kabir Bedi).
She recalled Swat Valley as a picnic spot in those days families used to spend holidays there.
After fleeing from Pakistan in 1947, Daya Rani’s family settled in Mussoorie.
She got married to Gopi Chand Dhingra in 1949 and moved to Jhansi where her in-laws had settled after migrating from Lahore.
She came to Muzaffarpur with her husband in 1950. There Gopi Chand started his transport business and settled down with Daya Rani. Later, they had three children – two daughters and a son.
Daya Rani, a widow now, doesn’t have many complaints against her present life. She looks comfortably settled in home with her family members.
But somewhere in a corner of her heart lurks a desire to visit the house she left behind in “undivided India”.