"There’s nothing for us here any more": An Excerpt from "Today's Pasts"

27 December 2015

Born in Rawalpindi in present day Pakistan in 1915, Bisham Sahni was an iconic Hindi writer, playwright and translator. He participated in the Quit India movement of 1942 for which he spent time in jail. Sahni's most famous novel Tamas, which won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1975, depicted the harrowing aftermath of the Partition. He received a number of awards, including the Padma Shri (1969), the Padma Bhushan (1998), and the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in 2002.

In the following excerpt from his memoir, Today's Pasts, Sahni describes his abrupt departure from his ancestral home in Rawalpindi and the subsequent journey to Delhi in the wake of the Partition.

On 6 June 1947 the government announced that the state of Pakistan was going to be created. I was standing on the roof of my house in the morning when a man from the alley out front came running to the end of the street—that was Barrister Mahmud—and he spoke loudly, with wild gesticulations, and bouncing uncontrollably. "The decision has been made! There will be a Pakistan! The news is on the radio. Long live Pakistan. Celebrate, my fellow Muslims! Long live the Qaid-e-Azam. Live long."

Keywords: memoir Bhisham Sahni Partition