Reena Verma was only 15 years old when she left her ancestral home in Rawalpindi along with her family and migrated to India after Partition. For years, she wished and dreamt of going back to her ancestral home and reliving her childhood memories. To her surprise and support from a friendly Pakistan-based network, her dream came true when she was 92.
It, however, took her 75 years to cross over into Pakistan from the Wagah-Attari border and get to see the locality, the old streets and the house, where she spent her time as a young child.
Verma’s ancestral home is located in Prem Gali Muhalla, DAV College Road, Rawalpindi. As she reached the area, she was welcomed with immense love, music, celebrations, flowers and smiles from local residents, who welcomed her with open arms and love as she walked into narrow streets and reached her ancestral house.
She touched and went to every single part of her ancestral home, refreshing her memories. To add to the sweetness and emotional outpour, she even stood on the balcony, and sang songs, reliving her childhood.
Verma’s eyes were in tears as she walked through the house. It took her years to be able to come back to her ancestral house. In these years, she said that she had a family of eight members, but today, she is the only one left out of them.
“I can still see myself here today. The neighbors living there at the time were very nice. When someone got married, all the children of the street, including me, used to run around and enjoy and there was happiness everywhere,” she said.
“Now, once again, the heart wishes to remove the hatred between Pakistan and India and start living together again,” she added.
“Everyone was sad at the time we left. Neighbors were considered members of the household and now live in the house where I and her family lived. But the wall has not been changed even today. I moved to India at the time of Partition. I never forgot my home or the street. Friends and food here are still fresh in my mind. Even today, the smell of these streets bring back old memories. I did not even imagine that I would ever come back here in life,” she said.
Verma had issues with getting the visa for Pakistan as he application was rejected multiple times. However, after she reached out India Pakistan Heritage Club, a social media group led by Imran Williams and expressed her desire to come to Pakistan, Williams was quick to respond and extended complete help and support, which resulted in her visa application be approved.
Verma’s time in her ancestral house was filled with dances, dhol beats, smiles and excitement as she roamed around her birthplace residence and received loads of love from the people there.
“People living on both sides of the border love each other very much and we should remain as one,” she said.
She said that no Muslim or Sikh lived in the neighborhood before the Partition. “All Hindus used to live here. I love Pakistan dearly and want to visit Pakistan again and again,” she said.