From Hyderabad to Malaysia
Sunita Ram Binwani (maiden name: Mohini Balani) was born on 2nd June 1941 in Hyderabad, Sindh, British India.
The youngest child in a family of five siblings, Sunita's family moved to Madras (Chennai), India following Partition.
Today, Sunita calls Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia home and this is her story.
Sunita recounts living a good and comfortable life in Hyderabad, Sindh pre-Partition. She was used to being surrounded by a big family . Her immediate family – her parents Gopaldas and Sati Balani, together with her three older brothers and one sister, who was the eldest – lived in a large joint family with their grandparents, three chachas (uncles), chachis (aunts) and cousins. The family always had a smooth and friendly relationship with their neighbours.
Sunita studied in a Sindhi all girls’ kindergarten for one year while her brothers and sister studied in an all boys’ and all girls’ school respectively.
At the time of Partition, Sunita was around six years old. She recalls a building in their area known as Pishori Paro being set on fire. People were being given sweets laced with poison and kidnappings were rampant.
However, the one event that is clearly etched in her memory is when a house opposite her family’s was set on fire and razed to the ground. That event struck Sunita’s family with terror and panic – and was the deciding factor for their family to leave Hyderabad for the safety of their lives. They knew they could not live there anymore.
The family packed up their personal belongings, carrying whatever they could and what was necessary. Only a few personal belongings were taken along – Sunita remembers wearing five to six frocks on top of the other. The rest of their belongings, land and other properties were left behind.
The family made their way to the Hyderabad train station, where they had to spend the night sleeping on the station’s platform as the train departing Hyderabad was full. The family was going to make their way to Madras (now known as Chennai) as the firm her father was employed in, Kishinchand Chellaram, had arranged accommodation for the family.
Sunita knows how lucky they were – having the support of her father’s established job as an export manager, they were able to start life afresh in Madras and in comfort.
However, there is a sad side to this story as Sunita says that they had to split with their joint family at the Hyderabad station. Her grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins were going on to start life anew in Bangalore instead.
In Madras, Sunita completed 11 years of primary and secondary education in English in St. Anthony’s School in Pudupet, Madras, followed by two years of high school in the Commerce stream. She also took private Hindi lessons on the side.
In 1963, Sunita married Ram Binwani and the following year, she moved to Penang, Malaysia where her husband had a textile business.
The couple were blessed with two daughters, who today have professional careers – one is an accountant and the other is a lawyer.
In 2013, Sunita and her husband left Penang for good to live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where one of their daughters live. In Sunita’s own words, “with age catching up”, she wanted to be closer to her family and to care for their grandchildren. Today, Sunita and her husband continue to reside in Kuala Lumpur.