When I was born

I was born and brought up in Maharashtra’s cultural capital, the city of Poona, as it was known then – a laid back town – touted as the haven of pensioners.

We lived in a quiet neighbourhood within a distance of about one mile from the Railway station. Mostly the people working in the Government services inhabited this place and quite a few of them were south Indians. Even some of the Government offices where these people worked were within a radius of one mile, the distance you can conveniently cover by foot.

It is said when people from south India landed at the Railway station they were welcomed by well meaning touts of the house owners from this area offering them a ride in a horse-drawn carriage (called the Tonga) to have a look at the varied choice of houses in the locality. It was rightly presumed that the people coming from south India belonged to the salaried class and were coming on transfers or for taking up jobs in the Government services.

The British ran this Government when my Grandfather came to this place in 1945 just around the time when the World War II was about to end.  Grandfather took up a house on rent in this place, in anticipation of my father returning from service in the British Army. By the time my father returned, got his demobilization papers, took up a job in the Central Railways and got married the whole country was in turmoil and the British were it quite impossible to continue ruling in the old way. I was born just over a month after the British had partitioned the sub continent and left the country. India and Pakistan, both carved out of British India, were now neighbours and Independent countries and the horror of communal carnage was raging in the subcontinent.

The refugees from the western border were presented with some prospect of rebuilding their lives through accretion of left over properties. The refugees from the eastern border, having lost their property and uprooted from their homes, were left to fend for themselves. The people who migrated from their native towns/villages to other places on job transfers or in search of jobs were equally akin to internal refugees tossed around by the recruitment into British Army or Government service or private commercial, industrial or such other establishments.

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