Rajinder Singh Bedi translated from Urdu by Muhammad Umar Memon

Read time: about 2 minutes

I love stories that begin beautifully. This one sure is one of them.

After partition, when countless wounded people had finally cleaned the gore from their bodies, they turned their attention to those who had not suffered bodily but had been wounded in their heart.

It is a story of partition. It is Story of a man who loses his wife to partition. It is a story of a woman who loses herself to partition.

Cover: Laajwanti

After a lot of fighting and massacre the people from India and Pakistan decided they no longer needed the excessive weight of women abducted from the opposite country into theirs. So they decided to send each other’s women back to their native lands. In the hope of finding Laajwanti, Sunder Lal runs a public campaign to urge people to take back the women they had once lost to the enemy even though they may have spent a part of her life with another man.

But there were some abducted women whose husbands, parents, or siblings refused even to recognise them. As far as their families were concerned, they should have killed themselves. They should have taken poison to save their virtue. Or jumped into a well. Cowards—to cling to their life so tenaciously!

Everyone sympathised with Sunder Lal because he also lost his wife. Laajwanti was abducted from her house and taken to Pakistan. Sunder Lal now regreted the way he had treated her now and wants her back.

So during one such exchange where women were treated worst than animals, by putting for public display the beauty of a young woman, her blossoming charm, her most intimate secrets, her beauty spots, her tattoos, Laajwanti was returned to India.

Sunder Lal is great fun. But he also dislikes the way she looks much healthier than he ever saw her. Plump even.

He expected her to shrink in remorse but he overcomes the hatred and accepts her. Though she is not his Laajwanti anymore. She becomes Devi. And this is how Laajwanti is lost forever to partition.

It is a beautiful story with raw emotions. A definite must read.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH