From Shahdadpur to Malaysia
Pushpa Vashi Ubrani was born Nevhenanda Hardasani on 8th October 1938 in Shahdadpur, Sindh.
Because of her father's status as a wealthy landlord, Pushpa knows that her family's Partition journey was smoother than most. Yet, life was not a bed of roses - there were ups and downs but Pushpa remained resilient.
Today, Pushpa lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and this is her story.
The youngest in a family of four girls and one boy, Pushpa was fondly known during her childhood as Jasotha. Her father, “Mukhi” Ranghanmal Hardasani was a prominent and well-to-do landlord with vast lands. He was also a leader in the Sindhi community – hence the title Mukhi.
Such was their wealth that the family owned several horses – as well as a horse carriage! Pushpa fondly remembers how the carriage was adorned with bells and recalls with a childlike glee the ‘clip clop’ sound of the horses’ shoes. The family lived in a large house and led a happy, comfortable and peaceful life – until the year 1947.
At the time of Partition, Pushpa was only eight years old. When the riots started abruptly, Pushpa’s father knew it was no longer safe for the family to remain in Shahdadpur, so the family started making arrangements to pack up.
Pushpa recalls how her mother wore her jewellery over layers of ganji (an inner garment). The family was also very fortunate to be able to bring a lot of their belongings such as carpets, beds and other personal effects as a special train carriage had been allocated to them. Pushpa, her mother and two of her sisters made the journey via train across the desert of Thar to Ajmer, Rajasthan. They were joined by about 20 members of their extended family and even their cook - who Pushpa fondly remembers being called Farso. Meanwhile, her brother was sent to Karachi to be with Pushpa’s married eldest sister, where he then boarded a ship bound for Bombay (Mumbai). Her father stayed back in Sindh to try and see what could be done with their remaining assets.
Of her train journey across the border to India, Pushpa says she felt excited. Being a young child, she did not understand what was happening and thought that were going away on holiday – but this was going to be a journey of no return.
Upon reaching Ajmer, the family squeezed themselves in a rented property. It was a whole new world to them – a world where Sindhi wasn’t spoken but dialects of Hindi and Kachi were predominantly spoken. Later, her father made arrangements for a bigger residence in Jaipur, Rajasthan, allotted to them in exchange of the house and lands they had left behind in Sindh. Having taken care of their assets in Sindh, her father now made the journey to Rajasthan and settled the family in the new house, but he continued to travel back and forth on a couple of occasions before settling with his family for good in Jaipur.
In due course, Pushpa continued her education in Jaipur, where she studied five grades in Hindi and one grade in English. Previously, in Sindh, she completed three grades that were only taught in Sindhi, of which the scripture, based on the Arabic script was very different from the Devanagari script for Hindi.
After five years in Jaipur, Pushpa and her family moved to Borivali in Bombay. While on a local train in Bombay, Pushpa first bumped into her future husband, who would eventually send a proposal for her through a common relative. In 1958, at the age of 20, Pushpa married Vashdev Ubrani. Five years later, Pushpa came to live in Segamat, Johor, Malaysia to be with her husband, who was working in a textile store.
Blessed with five children, Pushpa was not only busy taking care of the household but was also the driving force behind her husband starting his own business in 1982 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Called Maya’s Fashion, it eventually became a household name as they were the first to specialise in Bombay fashion wear.
Today, Pushpa continues to reside in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.