A Sikh refugee story
by Lalita Gandbhir
Winner of the Maharashtra Government Award for Fiction
The epic saga of a Sikh family whose lives are violently disrupted and their loyalties divided by the partition of British India in the 1940s, and again by the Sikh community's struggle for a separate nation of Khalistan.
At late middle age, Bhajan—a wife, mother, and loyal daughter—has always enjoyed a charmed and well-to-do existence in an idyllic hamlet of West Punjab. But when partition is announced in the summer of 1947, her father and brother are brutally murdered and her family forced off their ancestral lands in a wave of anti-Hindu/Sikh violence. As the terror escalates, the whole family flees Pakistan for India, except for Bhajan's strong-willed son, who insists on staying behind to defend the family's homes, lands and honor.
In India, the bereaved family haltingly forges new lives for themselves, establishing a family business and eventually eking out a comfortable—even prosperous—living. Children assimilate and marry. But in the early eighties, when a separatist movement for an independent Sikh homeland takes root in India, old divisions reemerge to tear the family apart.
A powerful story, evoking the bonds of family, the lure of fanaticism, and the refugee's perennial ache for homeland.
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