FAMILY CHRONICLES ON PARTITION
I am listening to the tafseer of Surah Al Araaf by Farhat Hashmi. She comes to the part where Moses (AS) is called by Allah SWT to give him the message, and as he gets ready to leave he asks his brother Haroon to take care of the Children of Israel when he is gone.
She then describes the temperament of Haroon (AS)………..born in the same household as Moses (AS) older brother to him, and yet unlike him, he is soft spoken, gentle and non confrontational.
My mind goes to another Haroon………soft spoken, gentle and non-confrontational. Born in a pack of five brothers and one sister some older than him some younger.
He at age one hunkering down in the darkened rooms of his grandparents home in Amritsar at night in a blackout that is only brightened by the torches of the Hindu rioters near my grandmother’s house.
My grandmother lived at the border of the Hindu section in a large sprawling bungalow that connected in the city with other homes through the closeness of their roof tops, My grandfather was the physician at the Hospital nearby treating Hindu’s and Muslims equally during the riot of Partition between Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan.
Neither my grandmother nor my grandfather ever thought of leaving their ancestral home in the Punjab ever. My father, who had gone to Pakistan to set up a Hospital, had left my mother and her three boys and one on the way with her parents in a safe, affluent neighborhood close to the hospital.
I can hear my mother relating “the night” Here is what I remember of what she said:
“As the evening shadows would lengthen the house would be plunged in complete blackout to deter the rioters from discerning who if anybody lived there. After many days of siege of the Muslim quarter, my grandfather was stranded in the hospital and could not return home because of the mobs at the gates of the muslim quarter.
Our fresh food was slowly running out, the first item of need was milk for Haroon.
As darkness would fall, my grandmother would rant and rave and send baduas to each member of the Hindu mob, and then would send her son (my mothers brother) to run across the rooftops and bring some milk in a lota. He being twelve, a lota was all he could carry while running over the roof tops, dodging bullets and trying to avoid being seen.
Haroon………..would cry when the shots rang out, but his crying also was quiet sobbing, he would never raise his voice as if he knew of the pre eminent danger they were in.”
Haroon my brother never cried aloud as far as I can remember. I recall the wordless tears in his eyes at age nine when he went to Boarding School in Murree, wordless tears in his eyes when my father died. I thank God he never witnessed my mothers or my sons death.
His smiles were also gentle; his laugh hearty but never raucous ……………..Haroon how aptly named was he.
Haroon arriving in Pakistan around one and one half year of age and living with our parents in an apartment in Lady Wellington Hospital where my father worked after partition.
My mother was physically and emotionally stretched as the hospital was mostly filled with the carnage that was carried out on the trains to Pakistan which arrived with people dismembered and severely injured.
Her mother and sister had been recruited to nurse the injured while my grandfather & father did surgery. Meanwhile my mother was taking care of her three children and her newborn baby. Haroon became a favorite of a half blind, very affectionate elderly woman from our family called “Mami Muradi” who had sought sanctuary with my parents after all her family was killed in Partition.
I see his photo; he is clinging to Mami Muradi’s legs and looking at the camera from behind the folds of her shalwar, his signature lock of dark hair on his forehead, his intelligent eyes assessing you before he accepts your presence in his life.
Haroon with the gentle hands that eased headaches without medicine, Haroon with the sharp wit and sarcasm that could reduce egos to a heap of sand
Haroon absorbing the pain and disappointments of life without batting an eyelash, Haroon writing a story of a father and a son………..Haroon breaking the academic records in all the commonwealth countries, Haroon spoiling his daughters with joy. Haroon working in Borders in the States. and saying he enjoys it while in his heart he was homesick for Pakistan.
Haroon absorbing the pain of life till he could absorb no more and his heart exploding with it, spilling out all the anguish, releasing him forever from the ungentleness of this world……………
“Inna lil lahi wa inna elayhe rajaeown”. May his soul rest in peace and May Allah Subhanawataala give him Maghfirah, and guide his daughters and his siblings to the path of Allah Subhanawataala.
May his daughters pray for him everyday in every prayer, for his solace and Maghfirah in the Hereafter!
On being asked once why he spoils his daughters so much he said “they are all I have!”………….and now their prayers are all he has left in this world.