Wasand Mal was 12 years old at Partition

Stayed in Sindh, Pakistan

Wasand Mal was separated from his extended family during partition. He has not seen them since 70 years. Born in 1935 in a village in Shikarpur District to a Sindhi family, his father used to run a general and clothing store and his mother was a homemaker.

Memories long gone but not forgotten

Mal grew up in a joint family, which included his maternal grandmother, uncle, two brothers and sister at their parents residence. Mal’s grandfather was a landlord and owned 100 acres of agricultural property where wheat, rice, and gram pulses were sown and harvested.

During the 1942 floods in Sindh, Mal’s village was affected. During this time, the family relocated to the town of Chak near Bhirkan, Sindh where they still live today. There were eight temples and two mosques at Chak. Holi and Diwali were celebrated with great enthusiasm, Mal recounts.

In 1942, Mal joined a school at the Sadiq Tiwana village and studied there for seven years.

Turbulent times

Mal was 12 years old at the time of partition.

In 1946, his uncles had already begun to relocate. They settled in Kota, Agra and Gurgaon, and managed to get lands allotted against his property in Shikarpur.

Mal recalls nearly all the Hindu families had migrated to India and by the end of 1948, there were only 60 families left at Chak.

At the time of partition, they asked Mal and his family to move with them but they couldn’t afford it. The cost per head at the time for relocating was 100 rupees, which was too expensive for them.

"My maternal aunt refused to migrate, plus there was minimal communal violence here. We also lost the agricultural property my father was meant to inherit," he said.

Mal recalls nearly all the Hindu families had migrated to India and by the end of 1948, there were only 60 families left at Chak.

The panchayat system at Chak was quite active, Mal said. "It was critical in keeping the conflicts between people in check. Interfaith relations were not as strong as they used to be. We didn’t have as many religious festivals as before."

After partition, Mal was allotted a house on a temporary basis by the new government that was occupied by one of the families he knew.

In October 1952, Mal got married and had nine daughters and one son.

Six years later, Mal and his family were formally allotted a permanent house. "The house was in very bad shape, it took us about 12-14 months to reconstruct it," he recalls.

69 years later

Today, he lives with his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren ever since his wife passed away. He continues to run his general store at Chak with his son.

Mal has never been to India since partition. He is saddened that he is unable to recognise his extended family since he hasn’t met them in over 70 years.

He expressed great sorrow over missing occasions in the family, "I couldn’t go to their weddings or play with their children. I’ve missed the funerals of my uncles who are now long gone. All my ancestors live there and I am cut off from them."

This interview was conducted by Story Scholar Fakhra Hassan, academic researcher and writer based in Lahore.