Sonia Khurana

In the year 2001, I moved from Delhi to Amsterdam. Getting a temporary citizen status meant having to fill lengthy forms, listing birthplace, profession, age etc of many tiers of relatives. Gathering all this information was no joy, and I was at the end of my tether when I called up my chacha [paternal uncle] to find out about my late father’s place of birth. “Toba Tek Sigh”: he told me. And everything about that dull, tedious day changed!

My maternal grandmother, Yashoda Rani Arya, was among the first batch of women to study medicine in Lahore Medical college. A modern girl, who took Sitar lessons after college, rode her sitar-strapped cycle in Lahore, she often bunked college, to get on to local trains, along with her friends, and go from village to village to ‘spread the message’ of ‘SwaraS. The girl gang would all be sent to jail for days, or even months, then released. and the cycle went on.

In my film, the world’ [2002] my maternal grandmother speaks of her travails in jail. She also gives a stoic account of the many houses they had moved through in 1947, from Lahore to Meerut, believing all the time that they would return one day!