A Mother’s Silence: The Unutterable Agony of Partition
Amid the undulating fields of what would soon become West Punjab, stood the quaint village of Parbatpura. Lush mustard fields, the scent of ripening mangoes, and the gentle hum of folk songs characterized this serene haven. But 1947 was not to be a year of serenity.
Kalpana, a poised woman in her mid-thirties, was the backbone of her household. A mother of three – two daughters, Radha and Kavita, and a son, Hari – she was revered not just within the confines of her home but throughout Parbatpura. Her tales of wisdom, her medicinal herb garden, and her soulful lullabies were the stuff of village legends.
As August approached, the air in Parbatpura grew tense. The elders, usually immersed in discussions about harvests and weddings, now whispered of borders, migrations, and potential violence. Kalpana heard rumors but chose to believe in the innate goodness of humanity.
One evening, as the sun painted the sky in hues of red, a chilling scream reverberated through Parbatpura. A neighboring house was aflame, its orange tongues licking the darkening sky. Within moments, chaos ensued. Armed mobs, faces twisted in rage and eyes blinded by hatred, descended upon the unsuspecting village.
Kalpana’s world crumbled in mere hours. Her home, a symbol of years of love and toil, was razed. As she attempted to flee with her children, she was intercepted by the mob. What followed was an ordeal so traumatic that words fail to capture its essence. Her daughters, mere teenagers, were taken away, their helpless cries echoing in her ears. Hari, all of fifteen, tried to resist and was instantly silenced by a brutal blow.
Left for dead amidst the smoldering ruins of Parbatpura, Kalpana’s spirit was shattered, but a feeble heartbeat persisted. Days later, she was discovered by a caravan of refugees heading towards the new India. They nursed her back to physical health, but the scars on her soul ran deeper than any medicine could heal.
Kalpana, once the vibrant storyteller of Parbatpura, now remained silent. The lullabies were replaced by haunting silences, the tales of wisdom by vacant stares. The weight of her loss rendered her mute. She never spoke of that night, but those around her didn’t need words. Her eyes, sunken and perpetually moist, told a tale more harrowing than any spoken account could.
In the refugee camps of Delhi, Kalpana found shelter but not solace. Children, sensing her boundless pain, would approach her, offering small tokens of love – a flower, a handmade doll, a tune on the flute. Kalpana would smile weakly, holding them close, seeking in their warmth, fleeting moments of respite from her haunting memories.
Time, they say, heals all wounds, but some scars are too deep, too raw to ever fade away. Kalpana’s story, though never voiced, became a testament to the untold horrors countless women faced during the Partition. Her life was a poignant reminder of the cost of division, the fragility of peace, and the indomitable strength of a mother’s spirit.