Bharti Kher

When I went to Pakistan to teach in 2002, my friend Rashid took me to Kasur where my mother, Saroj Kapahi, was born. we managed to find the family house and I wassurprised we found it. I remember it was a beautiful bright day. Several families now lived in the house, which still had the Hindu ‘Om’ sign on the outside. They asked me to read the Sanskrit text to them that was written on marble near what was once a temple. I couldn’t. I met a very old lady from the house next door who was a friend of my grandmother when they were girls. She pointed to the well at the back of the house in tears and said that a young girl had drowned there. (Many families told stories of young girls who were killed before the mobs could rape them.) when I called my mother from Pakistan to tell her where i was, she seemed quite disconnected. it is something that scholars of the partition have spoken about: thatamong the immediate generation that grew out of partition, the trauma was so great that they didn’t talk about it.

My grandfather was a brick maker and had his own kilns. He owned four trucks and transported people in his village and his workers across the border, covered in tarpaulins. My mother was four when they left.