Partition: Counting the cost
As we walked into Islamabad airport at half past five on Wednesday morning, a baggage-handler approached us with a tentative smile, writes Kadambari Murali.india Updated: Mar 18, 2004 14:03 IST
As we walked into Islamabad airport at half past five on Wednesday morning, a baggage-handler approached us with a tentative smile. His name was Abdul Hamid and he recounted a story that told us a lot about the human cost of Partition.
In other circumstances, Abdul Hamid told us, he might have been Hindu. Hamid's parents were from Rajouri. They moved to Pakistan in 1947 and later converted to Islam. He isn't sure why.
Hamid, who was born in 1950, says that after his father died, his mother told him about a brother he had never seen. Thirteen years older, he was left behind in India in the midst of the carnage. "He was young then and got lost when they moved," he said.
Just before his mother died, she gave him an address and Hamid promised he would find his brother. "In 1980, I finally managed to get a visa," Hamid said.
He found his brother Jai Pal in Rajouri. "What can I say about the meeting," he says, as I ask him how it went.
They promised to visit each other frequently but the "madness since has ensured that we have been unable to", says Hamid.
Now finally, Hamid is hoping that the progress of the peace process will mean that he can visit his brother again. "He is old now, it is better that I go if I can get permission from my employers," he says.
Hamid is one of many. Md Shamim, a taxi driver in Karachi, has a grandmother in Saharanpur, the PIA clerk across the counter in Lahore says he has cousins in Jalandhar he's never seen, and a fellow journalist says he is from Pune and his wife from Lucknow, where she has family.