Monday, May 24, 2010


There is a Bangladeshi family who lives in the same complex as mine. They are our ONLY friendly neighbor in a complex of hundred apartments. I am not kidding you when I say that. There are people in the complex who do not even smile at me, who run away as soon as they see us, and then there are others who ask me after seeing me everyday for three years, if I have just moved in. I gave up after the three years to make friends. Now, I do not care. I love this apartment because it comes with tons of perks that I would hate to trade and I really do not care about the neighbors because I have friends, good friends who will help me when I need it. So anyway the point was...

The Bangladeshi aunty H and her husband A had moved here only two years ago. The thing is, the house they live in now was owned by their son B but two years ago he passed away in a car accident very close to home. So H and A moved here in an attempt to sell the apartment that no one wanted to buy because of the brill economy. Now they have decided to keep the apartment and let their college going grand daughter to live. Three weeks ago I saw H aunty outside getting off someones car. 

She asked me if she could spend the night with us. She just wanted to sleep and nothing else. I muttered a sure and asked her what happened. She told me that A uncle had been admitted in the hospital and she tried to sleep alone the previous night and she could not sleep at all and was super scared especially since this was the first time for her to live alone after he son passed away. I told her that this would be a non-issue and she was welcome anytime. She spent two nights with us. Very non-intervening she was. She came in and slept and woke up before we did and left. Uncle is now back home and she wanted to have me and G along with Babs over for dinner. We tried our best to get away from it but she insisted. She wanted to thank us and I really have no idea for what but she insisted and we could not disrespect them and we agreed to meet them last night in their house.

G was looking forward to a boring uncle-aunty evening and I was not expecting anything at all but when we got there aunty had cooked up a feast and the best part we heard stories from them. Stories that no one in our family could tell us because we are from the South, where the partition was a tale that people had heard of. We learnt from them that uncle was born in Calcutta (Kolkotta) and aunty in Delhi and they moved to Bangladesh during partition. uncle told us how different life was then and how the politicians had messed up their life. We spoke about their tour around India where they visited all parts of India and had fun. He told us about Jinnah about Nehru and about his student life at Aligarh. We spoke about movies and soaps. I did not think that I would run out of asking them questions when Giri reminded me that we had to leave because it was almost ten and uncle would want the rest. Uncle was slightly gasping. We took leave but we could not stop thinking of them and their past. Of India and Bangladesh, of his love for India and not so much love for Pakistan. He had hated everything they had forced upon them, he told me that he was indeed happy that Indira Gandhi had carried out the 1971 war which created Bangladesh. I was proud of my country again...

I kept thinking of a young uncle and aunty eating barely anything and living as refugees during the partition of their home land. I felt so bad for them that they had to go through such turmoil but what will always remain with me is uncle and aunty repeating many times to us with a very far away look in their eyes, "I love Calcutta, I miss Calcutta. I would love to go back there."



Kavita said...

Wow.. just woww.. It's strange in this land, people from our country will turn their nose up at you and walk away , pretending they didnt see you..It's great Anu, that you have a neighbor you know.. and you got to share experiences with their family.

P said...

My grandparents were young adults when India went through partition. They have some 'not so fond memories' about it and seldom talk about it. But when they do I hear the unmistakable sense of pride for their homeland.. with an intensity that I cannot fathom... simply because independence was a treasured gift for them.. which is only a fact for me.

Anu Russell said...


Thanks...ya, I feel alone a lot of times, which is probably why I dream of home so much!!!

Ya, I love stories, that too others POV. I want to know what it was like to be in India during the struggle and all because my part of the family never really got bothered by it at all.