From Hyderabad to India
Jasoti Heman Dadlani was born in Hyderabad, Sindh, British India in 1931, the daughter of Choithram and Gopi Daswani.
For most teenagers, the year they turn 16 is forever imprinted in their minds as 'sweet sixteen' - full of fond memories. For Jasoti, the year she turned 16 will stay with her forever too, but for a vastly different reason. It was the year of the 1947 Partition and the year she left everything behind in her homeland to move to a different place.
Jasoti currently lives in Chennai, India and this is her story.
Jasoti remembers her house in Hyderabad very vividly. “My house was one amongst eight identical bungalows or “row houses” that are connected to each other,” she says. “They were all occupied by eight brothers of the Daswani clan, my father being one of them. The street was famous for these eight houses correctly named “Aatah Ghara” – Eight Houses of the Daswanis! We were a family of three siblings and numerous cousins, and we were all very close to each other. It was a big and lively joint family,” Jasoti remembers fondly.
In stark contrast to these memories, Jasoti describes Partition as being “absolutely scary”. She remembers riots, bloodshed, people running helter-skelter, and loudspeaker announcements for people to leave Pakistan. Every day would bring new scarier than the last. “The year 1947 will forever be imprinted in the hearts of those who went through Partition,” she says.
At the time of Partition, Jasoti was 16-years-old. “I was not allowed to step out of the house,” she says. “As the scenario became more and more negative, the elders of the family decided to pack up and move to India. It was decided that my father would escort me and my sisters and my mother would follow later, in the hope of salvaging our valuables and properties – my mother sure was a tough woman! When we left, we were not allowed to take any of our possessions – cash, jewelry, etc.”
Leaving Pakistan, Jasoti says, was exactly like what one would see in the movies today – tons of people crammed in the trains. “Luckily, we were able to board a train to cross the border. We were packed in like sardines, squeezing and standing for several hours of the journey, in absolute terror.”
“It was indeed a horrible experience,” she says matter-of-factly. “We were now refugees.”
“It was a relief when we safely reached Ahmedabad, enroute to Baroda (now Vadodara), where we hoped to re-start our lives & livelihood. The community there was very helpful and the government and authorities allowed us to temporarily stay in a hangar. Finally, we settled down in a small house in Baroda.”
Despite the “nightmarish” experiences, Jasoti is extremely grateful for her blessings. “I thank the Almighty for the resettlement and our precious lives well saved. I am also profusely grateful to Him for settling me in Chennai in the dusk of my life, alongside my daughter, Soni Uttamchandani, and her wonderful family.”