My paternal grandfather, Balram Bakshi, came to India before the riots. His own grandmother, however, had disappeared in Rawalpindi before they could reach this side. She was travelling back from a family function by train, accompanied by a male servant, who upon reaching their destination could not find her in the women’s compartment, where he had left her. It is still not known whether she left the train, or if there was some scare in her bogey, or if she was abducted. A few months later, they did her last rites, adding her to the list of dead ancestors.
The narrative of Partition hasn’t gone away with my grandparents. It has become a part of my family’s lived history, and mentality. As a historian, I understand it as a phase of nation building, and as an insider, I carry the stories of women of my family, and all those who experienced trauma of that phase on their lives and their selves.
- Excerpt from Ruchika Sharma, Professor of History, University of Delhi