For Another 70 Years and More…
Papa was born in 1947 and since then our heart-wrenching yet endearing relationship continues to this day.
Papa took care of us. He was a very good father, one could possibly have.
Though, we never knew about our mother that well, since Papa adopted us in 1947 when we had to leave our own homes because partition came into existence. Some of us walked miles barefoot while the others travelled on their vehicles, but soon we were warmly welcomed at Papa’s house with pleasure and courtesy.
He gave us food, clothes and shelter. He returned us our self-respect and dignity that we thought we won’t be able to get back because we were forcefully made to leave our homes, but he returned it. He made us learn to let go of our past and move on with our lives.
He became our father since then and, as far as I can remember, it was 14th August 1947.
All of his adopted children belonged from different cultures, traditions, family-backgrounds and social classes. Some held the heritage of poverty and suffering while others held the heritage of the righteousness.
In the beginning, it did not seem to matter, but things started to change as days went by.
People gossiped behind Papa’s back and cursed him for being unjust and unfair to his children.
We did not know what happened exactly at that time when our Bengali siblings were ousted from our Papa’s house. They cried and wailed all night and resented their mistreatment but we did not do anything either. We sat and watched the drama that took place. We were quite young at that time so people filled our minds with heinous acts that our Papa was said to be committing.
Our amiable yet banished siblings went far away and created their own homeland which they called Bangladesh.
Until this day, we have never met each other again. Sometimes while having dinner at night all of us grieve and lament about them. Though nobody says so, all of us do miss them secretly. While lying in our beds at night, we know that each one of us wants our Bengali siblings to know, that they are still family to us. We still consider them ‘our people’ and maybe we will always regret the suffering they went through because of our faults.
Time went by and Papa started treating our Balochi brothers inequitably. I remember all the discussions we siblings used to have when fights took place in our home. I remember when our Balochi siblings would argue with Papa for treating them well just like us, who lived in Punjab, for they were also an equal part of the family.
Not only, did our Balochi siblings rebelled and revolted, but our siblings from FATA and other small provincial states consolidated with the union as well.
On the other hand, Papa seemingly did not care much but we often heard him crying in his bedroom alone. We never dared to disturb him at night, so we never knocked.
I remember that one day, I came downstairs at midnight to fetch a glass of water from the kitchen, I saw the door of Papa’s room half-opened. I peeked into the room with my eyes filled with curiosity. I saw him sitting on a red prayer mat where he was kneeling on it and praying to God. I heard him crying and I could fathom the affliction and disappointment in his heartfelt words as he prayed in a loud voice.
He was completely broke.
Papa is not that kind of amiable person that he once used to be. He is not a very friendly and kind person now. He is unreasonably obstinate and he is difficult to manage. At times, he gets very insensitive as well, but we expect nothing less from a 70 years old.
At the same time, we have changed, too. Time has changed us in a lot of ways and has made us learn lessons, we once read in our colourful kindergarten storybooks; though the lessons we learned were not that colourful but worth experiencing. We don’t take care of Papa any more, but we do feel for him at times.
We have realized with time that all the devastation that took place in our home, was not just because of Papa alone, it was mostly our fault.
We devoured his soul and his emotions voraciously and never mentioned the way we betrayed him on his back continuously. We made him cry. We made him weep.
He did not want to oust our Bengali siblings, but because we were stubborn and self-centered so he made the decision for us, not knowing how heart-wrenching this could prove to be after a while.
Life has changed dramatically as none of the children is faithful and honest anymore. There is no one who can keep his house clean and who can provide him with food and proper clothing.
Though the relationship we once shared and the cheerful memories we once made in the days of 1947 are long gone, but we are still hoping for that day when Papa and his children will clean the house and decorate it, the way it was before. We know that we still share mutual delightful feelings for each other.
We know and we will continue to believe that our deteriorated bond will one day improve, and despite a hundred misunderstandings, we know that we will continue to live happily in the same house for another 70 years and more.
Written by Areeha Ijaz