The Price of Life

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Here’s an evocative real-life account of the survivors during the partition, in 1947. A little lad was celebrating the survival of his mother and him, dancing the Bhangra – a unique example of Black humour, in the weekly column. A Different Truths exclusive.

The story goes back about 30 years when the boy’s grandfather along with all male relatives was massacred in Pakistan, in 1947. His grandmother survived due to the incredible bravery of Muslim neighbours who hid them. Having escaped to India with her small children, the unlettered young lady was thrown from her middle-class existence as a bank employee’s wife to penury at the mercy of distant relatives.

The elder son took up a petty job with the relatives, finished schooling through night school, rising through the company’s ranks. But he insisted that the younger brother study in a school & later college to get the advantages he had missed. The younger brother however hated studies but was passionate about music and art and the limits of his ambitions were to become a drawing master or music teacher. He bunked college and used the money for fees and for watching films for their music to buy a harmonium and art materials. After being debarred from college for non-attendance & payment his elder brother got him a less ambitious job and also got him married so he could imbue responsibility.

The frustrated and bohemian younger brother could not hold down jobs and all his rage found an outlet in constant abuse of his wife and only son. The traumatised boy was a disaster at school, attracting further retribution from his dad. Thus when his Class V results were due, his father sent him with the statutory warning that if he fails neither he nor his mother would survive the day. 

That evening the boy came dancing back as, against all expectation, prayers alone had seen him through – he had passed, thus ensuring thus ensuring the survival of both his mother and himself, “Balle Balle Mai, tu bhi bach gayi, mai bhi bach gaya!”

©Soumya Mukherjee

Photos from the Internet

#Humour #WhyPigsHaveWings #Partision1947 #Story #DifferentTruths

Soumya Mukherjee is an alumnus of St Stephens College and Delhi School of Economics. He earns his daily bread by working for a PSU Insurance company, and lectures for peanuts. His other passions, family, friends, films, travel, food, trekking, wildlife, music, theater, and occasionally, writing. He has been published in many national newspapers of repute. He has published his first novel, Memories, a novella, hopefully, the first of his many books. He blogs as well.