“My Unforgettable days….Lahore we still love you…..Oh my Maa…..My Mother”..
Je Lahore ni wekheya o Jameya hi nahi….or Lahore Lahore Hai..these statements are very famous when describing Lahore, the great city and now capital of Punjab Province. During the riots of unfortunate partition my Nana Ji left his mother land and moved to India. My Grandfather used to say lot and lot of things about Lahore.
My Nana Ji Mr V.N Kapoor was born in Daska on 4th October 1909 in a prosperous cloth merchant family. At the age of 7 he moved to Lahore and from here starts a journey of loving his homeland. Initially in those days in Icchra there were lots of cloth merchants settled over there. Since he belonged to this cloth merchant community his family got settled in Ichra. He lived in an area of mixed community. He grew up with Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. He used to say there was a group of five friends he had. Two of them were Muslims (Mir Baksh Alam and Maulana Chowdhury Rahamattullah Sahgal), one was Sikh (Parkash Singh Dhillon) and other two were Hindus (Pandit Ram Mohan and Lala Fakir Chand). They were great friends and in the area they were known as “Toli of Bigre Laundes”.
My Grandpa’s Father Kashi Nath was a respectable person as he used practice Homeopathy and used to treat the indigenous dwellers in locality free of cost. My Grandpa’s Biji (Mother) Laksmi Devi was called Bi-Ji by the locals and she used to serve the suppers (Nashta-Nashta now in Pakistan is an Urdu synonym of breakfast ) to all of my grandpa’s friends. She was called Bi-Ji because of her love to all people in the area. During Diwali she used to make lots of different sweets and my Grandpa along with his friends and brothers used to distribute those sweets among community.
He used to go and enjoy food streets along with his friends in Gawalmandi and Lakshmi Chowk. Sarson Ka Saag, Parathe Gobi Aloo, Tarka….Curry from Gawalmandi’s Khanna Hotel (Braj Mohan Khanna Halwai), Chicken Kadai Gosht , Barah Kabab, Malai Kabab, Amritsari Jhinge From Lakshmi Chowk, Icchra ke Dahi Valle this were the most favourite he used to have. ( Lahore is still famous for its foods and to preserve this culture existing before partition Lahoris have developed Food Street)
During Vrat Kathas and Chaukis he used to go local temples (Doodhwali Sheetla Mandir) to have bhogs and prasads. He used to visit Masjid Shah Alam during the Ramzans and Eid and Gurudwaras to enjoy the Langars(Rampur Kurd). He was true food lover and roamed over all parts of Lahore along with his friends.(Don’t know these buildings still exist or not)
He used to play cricket and was the captain for the National Punjab Club. These guys had broken lots of windows in suburbs and had always troubled the People in locality. But in spite of this the people always loved them, there was no element of hatred among them. Although he belonged to Business family; he never bothered about business although he tried to setup a business in Dharampura but failed miserably. He then left his business on the shoulder of his brother and went to study Urdu in University of Punjab in Lahore( University of Punjab is still a central University and accommodates thousands Pakistani and Foreigner Students). After his studies he took up education as profession and was a professor in Dayal Singh College.
He used to live happily and with harmony in Lahore. There were no riots or scenes in Lahore until January 1947. This effect came from Rawalpindi and fierce riots started. My Grandpa cried a lot and lot but he had to leave this …place (alas). He used to ask everyone why I shall leave …this is my motherland….all are my brothers. His Muslim friends protected him a lot but cannot save one of his brother whose head was cut off in front of my Grandpa. So, after a long fighting with his heart he decided to leave Lahore only to protect his family. He moved to India on 17th August 1947. He struggled a lot and lot to get an establishment in an unknown place. He because of his hard work and dedication received his PH.D degree and became a most prominent voice in Archeological Survey of India (ASI).
In 1984 he visited his old friends Maulana sahib and Mir Chacha who welcomed him with happiness and tears. They asked him ”why you leaved us (“Oye Laleya ….tu Kyun Chadeya yara……….aja fer apne pind wich….teri maa tenu pukar riya si”) English translation of this Punjabi verse “Come back dear friend! Lahore; your mother is calling you”. But this was not possible anymore. He visited his haveli (palatial house) in Icchra and Lakshmi Chowk. He visited the room where he was born and where he used to stay with his wife(Grandma). He cried and cried…..but……he came back. He expired in 1988 and till his last day he remembered his homeland. He used to say
“Lahore meri maa hai….woh aaj bhi roti hai mere liye…..hum unke bacchein hai…..aur agar maa se unke bachon ko alag ki Jai to us maa ke barein mein sochon……woh to zinda mar jati hai”.
English Translation: Lahore is my mother.. she cries for me even today…. we are her children… and if children have been separated from mother.. THINK.. she becomes a living dead body