I was there to witness the miracle of August 14, 1947
It is August 14 – a day that revives the memory of an extraordinary experience of a young girl, Zee Niazi, on the day of the inception of this beautiful country. The way that events moved at that time instills the belief that miracles do, in fact, happen.
Zee got married to an officer in the then British Army, just before partition took place. Not being acquainted with an army lifestyle, her husband’s first posting came to her as a surprise.
They went to Harbanspura by train. The future had already begun to look bleak for the newly married couple. They was no accomodation available and they stayed at Mount Hotel for some time. They were having trouble making plans because everything seemed uncertain. Financial worries were not the only dilemma; the couple had to put up with harsh, discouraging words from people, too.
Zee recalls a social gathering at Nagpur, where an Indian lady named Naido, argued with a colonel and his wife, saying that there will ‘never be a Pakistan’. To this the colonel replied that there would ‘definitely’ be Pakistan. The lady impolitely continued her rant;
“You are Pak people,” she said indignantly.
This was only a few days before Pakistan became a reality.
It was a time when most people could not decide what to do. They were torn between deciding whether to stay or muster the courage to leave. Additionally, transport for a safe journey was not available to everyone. Many Muslims were opting for taking refuge with people they knew.
Zee’s husband was to report for duty at Rawalpindi on the fateful day of August 14. Hearing about Muslim travellers getting massacred, raped and kidnapped, Zee and her husband found themselves between a rock and a hard place.
Luckily, Zee’s husband was blessed with a sincere Sikh friend, who advised them not to travel that day.
“You can stay at my house. Or at least let me accompany you to the border. It’s a battlefield out there,” he offered.
However, this would have only put three lives at risk. Their friend escorting them could have gotten him killed, too, had there been another outbreak of brutal killing in the region.
The couple humbly declined his offer, upon which he uttered words which they would never forget:
It does not matter if one gives his life to save a friend.
Walls of faith differences crumbled with his sentence and a strong bridge of humanity led the couple to embark on their journey from New Delhi on a train.
The general feel in the train was uneasy and you could smell the fear in the air. The first thing the couple noticed was that there were only about ten passengers on the entire train. Their fear deepened as they went over their decision. They had already heard about the bitter fate of trains that had gone to Pakistan. They found themselves on tenterhooks, holding on to their decision and praying they had made the right choice.
As the train was nearing the border at Kasur, something happened that shook the earth under everyone’s feet.
The train stopped suddenly. Someone had climbed onto the train and pulled the chain to make it stop with wicked intentions, so it should never reach Pakistan. What appeared next turned Zee’s world upside down. When she looked out of the window of the train, she saw a mob of vicious killers, knives in hands, approaching the train. Zee’s husband was the only one on the train carrying ammunition; a mere army revolver. Everyone else sat helplessly, certain that their lives were going to end any minute now.
This was the moment when the most unexpected of miracles happened. An abrupt jerk made all the passengers lose balance as the train restarted. The driver of the train had somehow gotten the train running again!
Within minutes, the sound they could have given anything to hear, was finally heard;
They had now crossed the border at Kasur and entered what thousands had deemed impossible; Pakistan.
As Muslims we know that no one can die if Allah wants them to live. Zee knew that God was on their side when he rescued them from the thorny, dark mouth of death. She realised the worth of Pakistan, a land which had cost many lives and unending effort.
Here we are in 2012, living in that Pakistan, a country that must be cherished and loved. It wasn’t discovered one lucky day; it was fought for.
Of course, a great land had come at a great cost. Zee’s husband’s uncle recalls that as a train inspector, he could not eat his meals after duty because many had been massacred in front of his very eyes; there was much blood, gore and horror.
People were going through mixed feelings; the happiness of having a country to call their own and the sorrow of losing their brothers and home. But one thing is certain ─ no other generation can feel the happiness that this ‘eye witness generation’ experienced.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.