Jamila Hashmi, translated from Urdu by Muhammad Umar Memon

Read time: a minute

Banished is again a story of Partition. Like Laajwanti, this too is a story of a woman who suffered during the partition. She has seen her Baaba’s beard grazing in blood, hands held up as if in prayer. She has seen all her family members being slaughtered while she was dragged out of the house by her hair.

Gurpal, now her husband, threw her in front of his mother and said ‘Look, MA, I’ve brought you a bahu. A real beauty! The best of the lot!’

Cover: Banished

And thus she was married. There was no tears because she didn’t have her brothers at her wedding.

Well, maybe Bhai and Bhaiya weren’t present at my wedding- so what? Hadn’t Gurpal rolled out a carpet of corpses for me? Painted the roads red with blood? Provided illumination by burning down city after city? Didn’t people celebrate my wedding as they stampeded, screaming and crying?

Today is Diwali. This is celebrated as a day when Ram and Sita returned from exile. She compares herself with the life of Sita. It is quite the same except the Sita was finally rescued by her beloved whereas the narrator has accepted her life with Ravan.

The narrator is now married with three kids. She thinks of her life with her brothers before that gruesome day. She still wonders why she didn’t go with the policemen who came to rescue all the women who were forcefully taken by the mob of men.

Perhaps this Sita is now used to the life of exile. She has no hope left. Or perhaps this is her life actually. She has mended fences with her mother in law. She may not love her husband but she has three beautiful children who need her.

Rather than embrace a second exile, Sitaji has accepted the life with Ravan.

It is a beautiful melancholic story. A must read.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH