I have this compelling urge to trace my history, my roots and maybe find a piece of myself.
Though symbolically, I call myself a gypsy or a wandering bohemian. This essentially means someone who has never identified with a set system of beliefs nor they have a homeland. Gypsies or Bohemians are an enigma as they are entirely free of any dogma or practices. They are free to express themselves and do not follow any conventions or doctrine.
I am not a gypsy in the literal sense.☺
My paternal grandparents migrated from Kot Najibullah, Haripur Hazara in North West Frontier Province (Now Khyber Pakhtun ) and my maternal grandparents came from Lalamusa, Gujarat district (Pakistan) to Delhi, in 1947 after partition.
I have grown up listening to the horrifying tales of partition. People who survived the brutally violent communal riots have endured a terrible ordeal.
Women were raped and murdered mercilessly. Around 75,000-100,000 women were kidnapped and raped. In Rawalpindi alone, the official figure of death is around 2,263. Before the attacks, many women committed suicide by jumping into wells to avoid rape and conversion.
I am very curious about the land and the culture that my grandparents left decades ago. I keep reading about the events that unfold in that part of the world.
My grandparents spoke Hindko, which is a distinct and old language and was influenced by Pashto and Punjabi. They belonged to the landed class and abandoned their land and house back there when they came to India. They had hoped to return to their area and culture once the violence stopped.
But that never happened.
My maternal grandfather often talks about his house, his farmland, and the mango tree in his courtyard. He fondly remembers those days when he was a young, and his heart still aches from his childhood memories.
I wonder what happened to their house and their many acres of land. Is the house still there? Who is living in that house?
This land of my ancestor’ has a rich, magnificent and astonishing past where ideas, religions, ethnicities and various warring tribes from across Central Asia, Persia and Greece met.
The land has a restless past, and the present is more turbulent politically.
My mind forms vivid images of the Gulmohar trees, flowing rivers and Hindu Kush mountains. The beautiful stories shared by my great-grandmother during my childhood still engulf me.
I wish I could make the journey to those fields, villages and to those river streams.
Someday, I will take the shining journey to the land of Islamic moon and the Hindu sun.