Stories My Grandmother Told Me – 17

We arrived in Quetta, Pakistan. It was a big, very big city. It had more cars, more people, more noise, and more smoke than I could have ever imagined. The city was arid, and had a pungent smell to it. Whatever little savings we had, was spent on the journey. We began life from scratch; worse, we had to borrow money and food from others. We couldn’t afford to rent our own place, and had to move in with others. At first we stayed with Yousuf in Sar-e-Khartar. His wife was stingy. On our arrival at the end of the journey, they served us Thalkh-Thoroosh. We were exhausted. That meal made us sick, especially your mother and Aabay Wahida. dsc_1282 Our days didn’t get any easier. We never had enough food. Those were tough days. They would ask your dad for money to bring one ser of rice or flour but brought very little of it. Turns out, the measurements in Pakistan were different to those in watan. We craved for food. Unbeknown to her daughter-in-law, the late Yousuf’s mother brought us food, especially for you, my grandchildren. You were young then and needed a lot of food. From there, we were taken to Sayedabad.There, it was even worse. Baqir’s wife gave us one room for 7 people.She was very stingy. She didn’t like us. This one time, she lost a pair of scissors. She accused us of stealing it. Frustrated, I sat down with her mother-in-law:

“Why would we do that? We will sit outside and you can go in and search our room.”

Days later the scissors were found under the rug in her own room. Another time she accused us of stealing her cutlery. Moallem had got us a few spoons and knives. I told her to search the room, look at the ones we had and figure out if we had hers. She found nothing. She harassed us. It was hard. These people were members of the Saazman. Everything was communal and shared. It was very hard. Those with status got everything. Those at the bottom suffered. From there we went to live in the house of the Punjabis in Nechari, in the upper floor. The owners lived downstairs. They kept sending their kids upstairs telling us to stop you and Abdul from walking around:

“Baba is asleep downstairs.”

We were new. Work was scarce. Finding a place to live was very difficult. People saw us for our appearance, for what we wore, for the things we had. We left behind a herd of cattle, plenty of food, farm, bags of rice and wheat at home. We had come to a place where we had nothing. We had left behind a house full of food at home and had come to a place where there was none. We had no pillows and had to sleep on the floor. Often all we had for a meal was tea, sugar, and bread. *Thalkh-Thorosh = Thalkh – Bitter; Thorosh – Sour; Hazaragi dish. *Saazman = Political party/organisation *Ser = Unit of measurement equal to 7 kilos *Watan = Farsi/Arabic for homeland

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