Sohan Lal: Okay son, I will talk to Aarif about your marriage but forget about calling them here. Let me come back from Amritsar and then you too can come there. I have friends there and I shall not have any problem in settling my business in Amritsar. I am only telling this to you. You should not share all this to anyone. We can trust no one these days. Keep your eyes open and be alert. If someone refuses or delays the payments then do not argue or insist them.
Rajbir: Okay Lalla Ji, do not worry I will take care of the transactions here. When are you leaving?
Sohan Lal: I am thinking of leaving in the last week of March. In about three weeks.
Lalla Sohan Lal left Lahore. He sold some of his property at very low prices and took his family to Amritsar. Rajbir took up the responsibility to look after his house and business. The situation in the outskirts of Lahore was getting very critical. One could sense something very evil coming. Those who were working with him were turning aggressive on Rajbir. Lalla ji's Munshi (accountant) also left for Amritsar with his family.
Business was down and dealings were dead. It was May 15 and Rajbir received a letter from Sohan Lal. In the letter, Sohan Lal Wrote to Rajbir that he should lock the property and come to Lahore if he wants. Lalla Ji wrote him that he will be visiting Lahore in September. He left the decision on Rajbir. If he wanted then he was free to go to Amritsar but that will leave all the property and stock unguarded.
Rajbir replied that he will be staying in Lahore and will take care of the Godowns and Sohan Lall's Haveli (Bungalow). Rajbir informed about this to Noori as well and told her that Lalla Sohan Lall will talk to her Father and will fix their marriage.
Asma was very happy when she received Rajbir's letter but she was also dad that Rajbir decided to stay in Lahore in such Environment. Every day newspapers were reporting about riots and Mob attacks were happening in Both Lahore and Amritsar. Rumours were spreading out that India will be for Hindus and Pakistan will be for Muslims though both Muslim League and Congress were requesting people to stay calm and no migration is compulsive and it is on the will of both Muslims and Hindus to choose their country. They were trying to convince people to maintain peace but it was not working at all.
It was June of 1947. Summers were at peak and Sun was showing no mercy but there was another issue which was burning the sentiments, emotions and humanity of the people, "Partition". Dates were decided and everyone knew that Pakistan was being formed. Riots started in Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Lahore, Amritsar, Delhi and Bengal.
Asma was getting nervous day by day. She was worried for Rajbir and their own safety now. She was caught in the fields by Shamsher Singh and his friends. They would have raped her but they saw some ladies walking towards them. Shamsher kissed her forcefully and told her that he would not leave her that easily and will stop only after making her his Own. Asma was terrified and decided to tell this to her father.
In the evening when Aarif Mohammad came home.
Asma:- Abbu, What have you decided about going to Lahore?
Aarif:- My daughter, why do you think about that. What we have in Lahore? This is our city. I grew up in Amritsar My fathers and grandfathers all have roots here only. Why do you think of migrating to Lahore
Asma:- Situation is not like before. Everyday newspaper is reporting riots. Muslims are no more safe in Amritsar. I am too scared to go outside alone. Shamsher and his friends tried to molest me today. It was my luck that saved me. Please, Abbu we should either call Rajbir here or we should go to Lahore.We will come back with Rajbeer.
Aarif:- How dare that bastard to treat you like this. Tomorrow I shall go to the head of the village (Mukhia) and we will call a village meeting. I will not spare them so easily. You need not worry. I will write to Rajbir to come as soon as possible.
Asma:- I do not know Abba but I am too scared now. Yesterday Lajwanti Tai told me that Mob killed the Muslim family and their girls are missing. Even Police are not helping.
Aarif:- You do not listen to all this. This is why you feel so scared. Nothing like this is going to happen in Surathkala. I am here and the whole village is with us. Tommorrow I shall go to the village head and will teach this Shamsher a "lesson".
Next day Aarif got ready and went to Village leader Mukhia Harnam Dass.
Aarif:- Salaam Mukhia ji.
Harnaam:- Ohh Aarif Mohammad, come. How are you?
Aarif:- I am fine Mukhia Ji. I came here to discuss something very important.
Harnaam:- "Smiling Sheepishly", Why not Aarif Mohammad. We all are here to listen to you people only.
Aarif:- Mukhia ji, Yesterday evening Shamsher Singh and his friends groped Asma when she was coming home. These people should be taught a lesson. She is too scared to go out now.
Harnaam:- See, Aarif Mohammad. If you will stay in someone else's country then you have no right to complain. Pakistan is your country now. I will talk to Shamsher about this incident and I shall also suggest him to not do this again. You should also advise your daughter to stay in the house. If she will wander openly then boys are boys. Also, your daughter does not have a good reputation. We all know about her indecent relation with Rajbeer.
Aarif:- Harnaam Daas(shouting loudly), I thought that you will help me. We are living in this village since god knows. My forefathers died in this village. Who are you to tell me that my country is going to be Pakistan? India is my country and I am always going to be an Indian. Tell Shamsher Singh and his friends that if they ever look at Asma again then I will kill them all.
Harnaam:- You should leave Aarif Mohammad. Your people are killing our brothers and sisters. Our Boys are angry and your daughter is alone. Go to your house before she carries a Hindu seed in her Womb and Harnaam Dass started laughing loudly.
Aarif came out "Disgusted". He did not expect such behaviour from Harnaam Dass. They were childhood friends and they played together in their youth but now he is talking so rude and how can he talk like that about Asma. He uses to call her his own Daughter.
Aarif made up his mind that he too will go to Pakistan.
To be continued....