From Hyderabad to Singapore
Geeta Balani (maiden name: Leela Naraindas Chandiramani) was born on 17th December 1937 in Hyderabad, Sindh, British India.
Geeta was nine years old when Partition happened - news that her father was privy to, thanks to the nature of his job. When conditions started deteriorating, resulting in an unsafe environment for the family to be in, the family packed up and left for Bangalore, India.
Today, Geeta resides in Singapore and this is her story.
Geeta Balani was the youngest child of Naraindas and Lachmi Chandiramani. She had two older sisters and a brother.Geeta’s father worked as a Postmaster in the local post office. He was a well-known and respected man in the community. He had a kind, caring and helpful nature. According to Geeta, he “helped everybody”. Her mother was a religious woman who read the Guru Granth daily.
Geeta remembers that they lived in a big house in the Qillo area, which was considered a posh locality. Their neighbours were mostly Sindhi Hindus.
Their house was opposite the Nanikram High School, which also had a huge wedding hall. To Geeta, it seemed that “Every day someone got married!”.
Growing up, Geeta studied three grades in Sindhi in the Sobhraj School, which belonged to her Dadi’s (paternal grandmother) brother.
When Partition happened, Geeta was about nine years old.
Her father’s job as a Postmaster enabled him to receive news ahead of others and he realised that conditions in Hyderabad were no longer conducive to live in. Already Hindu women and young girls were constantly being harassed, and there were incidents of them being abducted too.
This atmosphere unsettled her parents as they had three young daughters and were worried about their safety. This spurred them to make the decision to leave Hyderabad.
Geeta recalls that they only took some clothes with them. Her grandmother had to leave all her gold including genis (gold coins) behind.
The family were going to depart via train to Karachi and onwards to India from there. While they managed to get tickets for the train, it was difficult to sit down in the train as the departing trains from Hyderabad were jam-packed and running full as everyone was leaving.
Once they arrived in Karachi, Geeta and her family stayed there for two days while one of her father’s friends made arrangements to get passage tickets to board a ship to Bombay (now Mumbai).
When they arrived in Mumbai, Geeta’s family stayed in her father’s mamo’s (maternal uncle) house. After two weeks, they boarded a train to Bangalore (now Bengaluru) to start life anew.
In Bangalore, Geeta’s father got a job in the postal services similar to the one he held in Hyderabad, Sindh. Meanwhile, Geeta continued her primary and secondary education in an English medium school in Bangalore. She learned to read and write Sindhi at home under her father’s tutelage.
Geeta got married in Bangalore in 1963. After four years, she moved to Singapore where her husband, Kishin Balani, worked for a Sindhi firm, Kishinchand Chellaram.
Geeta has a daughter and a son and continues to reside in Singapore till this day.