Skip to main content
Oral history interview with Abida Khatoon 
Interview by Saira Qureshi
Oral history interview with Abida Khatoon Interview by Saira Qureshi
25 May 2017
Find it!
Interview description by: Nusrat Ahmed.Track 1:Abida talks about her family and that they resided in Ludhiana in India and that they originally came from Iran. Her father’s family were ‘Sufi’s’. In August or October 1947 the family went from Ludhiana to Pakistan. She cannot remember anything herself about her life at that time but her mother relays stories to people and she has memories of that. She says she was told she contracted Polio at around the age of 2 or 3 years so she wasn’t allowed to go to school as it was felt she was too weak. Her mother’s father was a member of the Muslim League and he concentrated on work more than being involved with his own family. [04.56] Remembers that her mother relates that she had friends of Muslims League followers and a lady called Baji Rukaiya comes to mind and that these ladies together would go out and canvas for votes for the Muslim League. They would go with her mother to people’s homes for votes. Her mother has told her that on the 27th day of Ramadan in 1947 there was shooting on that night in Ludhiana and that the family went to Lahore in a military truck then from Lahore went to Faisalabad to her mother’s brother home. The group of women Abida’s mother talked about who took an active part in politics before the partition did not afterwards take any part in politics at all because to be part of politics you needed a lot of money. [09.39] She remembers that she was over the age of 8 years old when she first went to school and her first day was 16th April 1950 and her brother went with her to enrol her at school. She found that her Aunts were teachers were in that school. Also mentions that her mum’s sister was a doctor in 1930’s in India. She remembers that a teacher was killed on her journey at the time of ‘Jallian Wala Bhag massacre’ and they were told by the teachers at school to creep quietly rather than walk normally when travelling that way. She talks about her grandfather’s life in India before the partition and that the divide was mostly the Muslims and Hindus. Later on the Sikh created their own community which became a large community in Punjab. The Sikh Community settled up to Amritsar and her family were warned that there will be a partition so you should leave your land and move towards Lahore which was majority Muslims. But her father would not agree to this as he said the divide was Muslims and Hindus, not Muslims and Sikhs. He had lots of friends who were Sikh and he got lots of letters from those friends after the partition passing their love onto to Abida also as she was the youngest child. Abida discusses that she does not have any pictures of her childhood as her father did not agree that photographs being taken but she remembers one photo in her father’s file of a group photo and a photo of 1971 of her father that she will try to trace from her sister. [21.55] Discusses that her family migrated 3 times and were not interested in protecting belongings. Also her father travelled a lot for his work. Abida says she heard stories about the partition and read about it too and through the press got to know about the killings and that the wells were poisoned and that thousands and thousands of people lost their lives and of the lives of their elders. And this is still the case to this date as Kashmir has not been divided. [27.52] Abida goes onto talk about the partition still has an impact over 77 years because Kashmir has not been divided. In September 1965 war was carried out for 3 weeks long and lots of lives were lost within the army. The main reason why Pakistan was made should be remembered and time should be given to our history. Similar to why the Quran gives us the knowledge of what we should do in this life….and that this should not just be read in times of despair. And similar to that the partition meant that we got the land from our forefathers and everything is linked to this point as to why Pakistan was made. [38:06]Track 2:Abida talks about her family and that they resided in a big mansion called ‘Sher Vali Kohti’ located on G.T. [Grand Trunk] Road. Her forefathers lived in this big mansion that has 2 huge lions on it hence the name ‘Sher’ which means Lions. And had big halls in it so all the Muslim League conventions were held in her fathers’ house, which was located next to a mosque. When it was announced on 14th Aug that India is divided some people came to the house with firearms and some people put the straw mats from the mosque onto the doors and house and was put on fire. And people said the family had burned in the fire. Everything was made of wood the doors and beams but her mother and sister and her came out from the back door. They went to the Sufi Mahala (area) which was the forefathers place. Then they went in a military truck from Ludhiana to Lahore but only ladies were allowed and children under 16 only. At that time they stayed with their father’s uncle for 15 days and then later on their mother’s brother and his wife who was a teacher. [06.55] Recalls that one of her father’s colleagues had exchanged cultural land and that land in Ludhiana could have been exchanged for property from India side to that in Pakistan but her father did not agree to this. Tara Singh was the ringleader of the Sikhs who was offered that land could be exchanged but he did not agree and Muslims were killed by Sikhs. Her mother left everything in India big gardens and houses lemon trees and mango trees and her father said that place was paradise as the temperature of the place where she lived was lower than anywhere else. She says she has good memories and no main gates and boundary walls and streams around the house cultivating the house. The streams were used as a source of water for the land around the house. Her mother’s political activities stopped when she went to Pakistan. Her mother was a generous person and she always shared things with others and Abida remembers people coming and saying they didn’t have items and her mother would just give it to them. She says generosity is a gift from god and what you can do to help others. [13.05 End of interview]
Oral history interview with Abida Khatoon Interview by Saira Qureshi
Date of work:
25 May 2017
Reference number:
Level of description:
Use restrictions:
EnglishUrdu and English
Record number:
Find it!