He Could Never Go Back To his Birthtown But Mother Nature Carried His Wishes
He could never go back to his place of birth, the home of his childhood and youth years in the racial-mixed company of his friends: Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs.
Mr. Kundan Lal Bakshi always wished and prayed to visit, at least once, the warm and friendly town of Kotli in Azad Kashmir- the Pakistan-administered part of the divided state of Jammu and Kashmir.
He wanted to roam the streets of his birth-town, speak his mother tongue ( Mirpuri) freely, and get the nostalgic feel of the neighbourhood where he grew up.
The family moved to Jammu, and so did Mr. Bakshi during the horrific and deadly communal riots of 1947.
The Line of Control (LoC) bars the region’s citizens from crossing the other side from where they got uprooted just in a matter of days and hours.
The Line of Control (LoC) is a military control line between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir—a line which does not constitute a legally recognized international boundary, but serves as the de facto border.
A simple folk with jolly good nature, Mr. Bakshi spent the rest of his life in the city that gave shelter and a new beginning to most refugees from the region that was once part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The religious divide of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 gave rise to two nations, but it crushed humanity in genocidal and brutal waves.
What people on both sides of the divide got? A never-ending hostility. Caught in this hostility between the two neighboring nations was Mr. Bakshi, who died recently in Jammu.
He lived a long life till the age of 103 years. Perhaps he waited for the opportunity that one day he would see the place of his childhood again. But it never happened.
The family immersed his body’s ashes as per Hindu customs in the flow of mighty river Chenab in Akhnoor, a small border town near Jammu.
It was Mr. Bakshi’s sentimental wish that let mother nature carry his ashes through the waters of Chenab entering Pakistan, the land of his birth and home of his ancestors for generations.
(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions. Originally from Jammu, now resides in Vancouver, Canada.)