When Independence Had Nothing To Do With Freedom

India lost Champions Trophy to Pakistan. As our neighbours celebrate victory, India seeps into a sudden lull. But I know someone in Pakistan who would be on our side, mourning the loss, silently, by heart, if alive! 

It was 1947, the most important year in India’s history. After decades of struggle, we earned independence. And she only earned captivity and partition; dishonour and bloodshed. Everything comes with a price tag but for her the cost of independence was too much to afford. And she may not even have asked for it. May be it just dawned upon her. 

To dishonour rival religion, the women were usually targeted. Women were raped, abducted, sold and forced to marry. They say, it seemed as if some evil power had taken control of human souls. Perhaps that’s the most easily escapable statement to justify the sins committed. 

At some places, women were abducted, raped and then killed or left on roadsides to test their destiny. In some cases, they were forwarded from one to another to fulfil the sexual desires. In case she survived to escape, the loss of honour and family left her with no alternative except for committing suicide. 

The natives of this town named Dhuri (Punjab) decided that no one will bring home muslim girls without getting married to them. Amidst all the chaos, Reshma was found hiding in the fields. She didn’t even try to run. Either she had planned to surrender or she had nothing to lose. It seemed as if she had enough to make her vulnerable. 

She had no clue about her parents being dead or alive. She had listened to screams of people who wanted to survive. She had seen people floating on waters and streets filled with bloodshed. She had seen heaps of bodies dumped on ground. She felt cursed due to beauty that had always made her proud. 

They say she was beautiful. Bhupinder, a native of Dhuri offered to marry her. She wasn’t asked about her will, she was just told about her marriage. And they were married the very next day in front of all. Well, Indian girls were used to it – being married without knowing her wish! Even Independence couldn’t change that. But except it, there was much that Independence changed for her. 

She was deeply traumatised but as years passed things started becoming normal for her. May be she had accepted what all happened with her. She fell in love with Bhupinder gradually and gave birth to two daughters and one son. Life seemed like coming back on track. But her subconscious mind always ran in search of her parents and their well-being. Those screams and cries haunted her every now and then. She was somehow surviving! 

But her plight didn’t end up after all this. The governments of both nations started sending the women to the concerned nations, where they should have been. The hindu and sikh women back to India and the muslim women back to Pakistan. According to an estimate, 30,000 women were recovered overall – 22,000 from India and 8,000 from Pakistan. They did not consult the concerned women. She had no right to take decisions for her own life. For her, Independence did no good. It rather ruined her! 

Reshma’s husband, Bhupinder tried his level best to keep her in India. But the so called laws were laws. Bhupinder enquired if Reshma had any surviving guardian. But they couldn’t find any. She was again looted on the name of borders. She was again plundered on the name of freedom. She had to leave her children with Bhupinder. They say the town cried the day she left. But Reshma remained firm and promised that she would come back. Though she never did! 

Those were the times people were not sure about their next breaths, why to talk of un-kept promises? Bhupinder till date is confused about the role of borders – “ Whether they are keeping me and Reshma apart or together?”