Pakistan of a Sikh born in India
MAIREY AAPNEY by Sukhdev Sidhu; pp 184; Price Rs250 (pb); Publishers Saanjh Publications, Book Street, 46/2, Mozang Road, Lahore. Email: email@example.com
Dr Harkirat Singh was a teacher at the Chandigarh University and witness to bringing under plough the virgin lands of Ganji Bar. His was the first family which reached the spot in the wilderness and started living under the sky. The area was still surrounded by mirages located in the vicinity of now Khanewal. The family was those of veteran military soldiers. The land in the shrubs-covered desert was allotted to Harkirat’s uncle. They had moved from Gurdaspur district now in the Indian Punjab. The family moved with grandmother of Harkirat as the most senior member of the family. On the marked place there was nobody from any of the concerned departments. Only the residents of the semi-jungle area having pastoral or jungli style of living with no taste of farming. One of such jaanglis, Haider, a passer-by, who provided the best possible help and guidance to Harkirat family, which first raised their katcha house and knew the techniques how to face venomous snakes, wolves and other dangerous species. The colonisation started in early twenties and by 1947 there were prosperous settlements all around. This was the greatest achievement of Harkirat, his family and other thousands of families. This was “Harkirat’s paradise” which he could not forget through rest of his life passed in air-conditioned house of Chandigarh where he wrote memories of Ganji Bar…which he named as his paradise. His book was transliterated into Lokmukhi script and was published by the Punjabi Adabi Board.
Sukhdev Sidhu was not born in Pakistan but he opens with a chapter titled “Maira Pakistan”. He was born 10 years after the creation of Pakistan when his grandfather after tasting the life of Bar close to Cheecha Watni where Baba Ram Singh and his father Bhola Singh got two squares of land which they brought under plough after very hard work. Grandfather Ram Singh had gone to Bar with thirteen sons and daughters.
Sukhdev never came to Pakistan but all his life he heard the memories his elders repeated regularly without fail. This was their adventurous and prosperous part of life when they earned thousands in form of currency notes which they had no place to keep secure except the pillow. Once great grandmother of Sukhdev was given currency notes of one hundred and eighty rupees which she buried in a mud wall and plaster the hole. When the need arose it was difficult first to find the hole and second both of the currency notes were termite-eaten and the amount was in those days not so unworthy. The most heart-piercing stories are related to the disturbances which forced Ram Singh to cut down his Kes (head hair). On the way from Chak No 167-G to India, the most tragic scenes which were witnessed by his elders have been narrated by Sukhdev. It was a tragic fall from the top of the prosperity to deep depth of poverty in ancestral areas in Jullundher from which Muslims were being evicted like them and they were pushed to Pakistan borders. Sukhdev is proud of the fact that his elders had lived in the land around Harappa. All that reminds the book of Dr Harkirat Singh – Yaadan Ganji Bar Dian.
There are sixteen other caricatures and sketches including Ghadri Baba and a people poet Gurdas Ram Alam who was much more popular among the common people than Shiv Kumar Batalvi.
HASTIAN WASTIAN TAKHTIAN…compiler Iftikhar Kalarvi Warriach; pp 212; Price Rs200 (pb); Publishers Rozan Publishers, Railway Road, Gujrat.
Iftikhar Kalarvi is more concerned about the research which could lead him to the traces of heroic traditions of the land of five rivers. He has already written four books in Punjabi about past and present personalities of his area mainly within the boundaries of Gujranwala Division. He is also strongly associated with Punjabi language movement and the book under review is dedicated to those Punjabi protagonists, who are opposed to the division of the language as well as of Punjab on linguistic basis. Iftikhar is politically more close to the Chaudhries of his district Gujrat, who have provided immense support to Zardari for the division of Punjab and without the PML-Q’s numerical support neither the MQM nor ANP or the PPP have enough strength to bring necessary amendment to the Constitution. Of course, the Chaudhries assert that Punjab should not be divided on linguistic basis but be divided on administrative considerations. But demand is linguistic and the prime minister reiterates that it will be Seraiki Suba for which he is also preparing leadership mainly from his own Gilani family.
The book under review again consists of the gravestone writings of important personalities not covered in his previous books. To make the graveyards as one of the good sources of history he quotes a verse of Ehsan Amrohvi:
To show that many important personalities belonging to this area but buried somewhere else have also been mentioned. In this category fall Sir Shahabuddin, Justice S.A. Rahman, Salma Tasaddaq Hussain; Z.A. Suleri and Altaf Gohar. They need a separate narration. The rest is a good collection of information. - STM