She grew up In the Jackrabbit mountains. Bordering Karachi and proclaiming It the most beautiful place In the world that “overlooked the heavens”. She grew as people would call “blue blooded”, ridiculously rich but far from conceited. Her family consisted complete vegetarians- never eating meat or eggs as if to preserve what bodies are given. She had five brothers and she was the eldest child. My grandfather Bagman was similar, yet completely different.
He grew up eating everything that moved- except for beef of course because cows are to Indians as Jesus is to Christians. He grew up with five sisters, in the heart of Karachi in a huge apartment on top of hill. Their family business was in owning apartments and because there were so many people paying rent to them, Bagman was told that he would never have to work another day in his life. On his 16th birthday, his father gave him a building, setting his up for even more prosperity in life. If there’s one thing In my family that Vive noticed it’s that Irony seems to follow us.
Oddly enough, it was only 1 6 years that my grandparents would have to remember their lush lifestyles because of the simple reason that they are Hindu. It was a muggy, rainy night towards the end of monsoons when the Muslims came. At the time Gandhi had achieved the separation of Britain rule over India through non-violence, and India was ecstatic. But what they didn’t know, was that while the country had just become united, they were about to split again. Zinnia, a Muslim political activist had been arguing with Hindus about splitting India into two- one part for Muslims and the other for Hindus.
The majority of Hindus agreed that dividing India wouldn’t be necessary, but Zinnia was persistent. On August 15, 1947 a couple of Hindu activists (Gandhi being one of them) gave In and India was no longer united. For a man that is the embodiment of peace, it is hard to understand why Gandhi would not have stopped Zinnia from separating India. That night, the Hindus elected the first prime minister, Charcoal Nehru to lead India, while Pakistan became the Muslim country. Unbeknownst to Hindus, there would be thousands of executions that night for being in Pakistani territory.
It was during the day that Rashes, my grandmother’s brother received word that Jinni’s men were coming. They knew their time was limited because they were close o the water but at such high altitude, so they needed to get down the mountain and travel by boat. Fortunately, they were able to bring the necessities, but my grandmother had to leave her beloved Pekingese behind and they were not able to gather the majority of their savings. They reached a boat safely, and traveled through the Arabian Sea before they reached Northern India and found a small apartment In Iambi.
My grandmother attended Wilson College in Iambi, which was very rare for a woman in her time, graduating top of the class. Her Journey there was by no means horrible, but a far cry from what she used to know. My grandfather on the other hand did not have it as easy. That night In their apartment, his family received word that the Muslims were coming. My great- grandfather, Baby tried to sell his buildings and collect his money, but it was too late. 1 OFF grandfather and his sisters gathered them, and hid under the floorboards in a hidden cellar with my Baby, leaving my great-grandmother, Ala Mummy alone to fend for the family.
They had heard that the Muslims came with machetes, and since Muslims are circumcised, they would make sure the men were to ensure they were Muslim, the price- immediate execution. Instead of putting her daughters at risk or giving up her son or husband, Ala Mummy stood there alone, awaiting the enemies. She answered the door, not giving them a chance to barge in saying “Salaam Alaskan,” in an authentic accent, meaning “peace be with you” in Muslim. They searched the apartment hungrily while Ala Mummy stood calmly, until she saw something in the kitchen.
It was a statue of a dancing Changes “no larger than a thimble”, as Ala Mummy described it. I don’t know how, but some how she was able to maneuver her way to the kitchen, snatch it and tuck it in her sari, close to her heart. Fortunately, the Muslims left and my family knew that in order to survive, they must flee immediately. Desperately seeking help, my grandfather’s family fled to Private’s house, the eldest sister, already married and taking care of three kids, residing in Iambi. Soon enough, with what little savings my grandfather’s family had, they were able to buy a one-bedroom apartment for seven people.
My grandfather and his siblings were enrolled in school and given refugee cards, acknowledging that they came from Pakistan as Hindus. Thankfully in good time, these refugee cards gave them accounts on books, food and living expenses. After being tormented in school for having no money, my grandfather came to an epiphany. When you have nothing, being educated is the only way to show you are worthy. My grandfather devoted every day to his studies, and he told me the reason he has scars on his hands were from gripping his pen too tight and making them bleed.
All of the anxiety eventually paid off, as he ranked eighth in the state of Maharajah’s (population wise, New Jersey and Delaware put together) and scored a Job for a financial company right out of high school. At age 23, when my grandfather was settled with a successful Job and lived stably on his own, Ala Mummy and Baby decided time was dwindling and their son was now fit for a wife. So Ala Mummy went searching, and one day when she was in the market place, she saw a woman she thought was so stunning, she confronted her.
This woman happened to be my grandmother’s mother, who was very beautiful indeed. She had notably fair skin and big, light eyes. As the women began talking, it soon became known that the beautiful woman had a daughter around the same age as Bagman, and it was decided that they would be married. My grandparents only met twice before their wedding. But somehow by good luck, it all worked out. My grandparents have been together for 61 years, and have always appeared to be happily married. About two years after Kamala and Bagman were married, my Auntie Versa was born.
A couple of years later, their second child Siskin was born, but after only a couple days, the baby passed away. My grandparents who were always erring on the side of caution with everything, were devastated. To say the least, they were utterly lost and had no hope. According to my Auntie Versa, my grandmother began saying everything from getting paper cut to going out in the rain. When she began looking to a positive light, my dad was what they thought of as the miracle in their life when he was born six years later, Just as he is to mine.
Growing up, my father was the most sheltered kid there was. Apparently, he had issues walking as a child because he was “carried around like a handbag”, and never had a chance to. He was nicknamed as a child (and called as an adult) Oppose, which could not have been easy growing up, considering the name sounds like “squishy’. As a teenager, he entered a bike race with his friends, and as he was riding up a huge ill, he looks back to find his mom riding in their car following him and his friends. When he sees her, she yells, “Oppose, Oppose! Have some cookies and Juice, you look so tired bubby! I can only picture my dad, ridiculously tall and lanky with thick- framed glasses “the width of soda bottles”. I don’t know how he got through high school. But this didn’t cease to stop him from trying. My dad grew to be an exceptional student in all areas of science, was the best pace-bowler on his cricket team, first singles player on his tennis team, and captain of his school house. This did to stop my grandmother from worrying, even though her son was turning out fine. My dad had never been on a class field trip or been swimming because he was never allowed.
It was not until one day, that my grandfather’s boss offered an amazing deal that my grandmother was able to overlook this fear. My grandfather’s boss offered to pay for four years of college for my father if he went somewhere in the U. S. At first, my grandmother held firm to her beliefs that it would be dangerous, but after months of convincing, she finally gave in, she had to let go. My father arrived on the amp’s of Stevens Institute of Technology on August 20, alone- and two days early dressed in a full suit.
The campus was deserted and the only person in sight was the janitor. Apparently, there was a letter sent home that changed the first day was moved back by two days. The Janitor led my father to his dorm and was able to turn on the water, but not the electricity and gave him directions to a Seven Eleven within walking distance. Realizing he would be using his suitcase as his pillow for the night, he hobbled to the store carrying a couple of dollars that he Just received from epees.
He walked in a picked up a carton of his beloved Tropical Orange Juice, and looked around obliviously trying to find a flashlight. “Son do you need anything? ” asked the cashier. “Um yes, I’m looking for a torch sir,” he replied dumbly. The cashier laughed, happily going along with it. “Are you looking to light a path or something sir? ” He bellowed, recognizing the clear disconnect. But my father Just looked around and found one near the register. He bought it, left and then smiled. Because little did he know, that he was about to light the most important path of all-mine.