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The 1947 Partition Archive Survivors and their Memories

Oral history with Zeba Rizvi, 2015 December 17.
Inline Map:
Oral history with Zeba Rizvi, 2015 December 17.
Rizvi, Zeba, 1940, Saleem, Sobia, and Islam, Nabila
Author (no Collectors):
Rizvi, Zeba, 1940, Saleem, Sobia, Saleem, Sobia, and Islam, Nabila
Corporate Author:
California Humanities
Zeba Rizvi was born in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh in 1940. Her family traces its roots to Persia, from where most of her forefathers made their way to Badaun and settled. Her grandparents resided in Badaun until they migrated to Pakistan at the time of the Partition, although her own immediate family did not. She will never forget the words of her father, a government officer: "I have made my final decision, we are staying." Mrs. Rizvi, born Zeba Roshan Raza, had a rather large family with seven siblings. As a child, Mrs. Rizvi recalls that her family had an unusual dynamic. She remembers that the children were encouraged to read and learn about the world, but they weren't allowed to go outside and watch the street entertainment. They could leave the house, but only with a caretaker. Mrs. Rizvi particularly loved her summer holidays, fun and carefree. One of her favorite activities was attending the exhibitions in which sellers from different places would come and showcase their goods. Oftentimes, circuses accompanied these sellers at exhibitions and the whole affair could last up to a month. Perhaps because of their strict household environment, Mrs. Rizvi and her siblings grew up reading quite a bit. When she was a student, Mrs. Rizvi became involved with debating at her school from the sixth grade and into her university years. She excelled and won multiple debating trophies. She recalls that trophies stayed at the school and were put on display there while the medals for participants were taken home. Because of her winning track, her trophies always stayed with her schools. Her excellent reading and debating skills led Mrs. Rizvi to later major in Urdu and begin writing short stories in college. As a child, Mrs. Rizvi's family included her father, her mother, her siblings, and her amma. Amma was Mrs. Rizvi's family's domestic helper who took care of the children and the household; however, at that time, it was common to not address servants by their names, so instead her family called the woman "mamma," or mother. When she was small, Mrs. Rizvi understood her life as having a "Mummy" and an "Amma." Her Mummy would teach her important life lessons, such as to live within one's means. Mrs. Rizvi's amma took care of her on a daily basis and told her stories from various traditions. The Partition was something that was distant from the minds of Mrs. Rizvi and her siblings. She attributes this to the fact that her family moved out of the Badaun, where her extended family and other Muslim families lived, very early on because of her father's job. As a government official, he had to travel quite a bit for work, and he always took his family with him. Their family always lived in large, beautiful compounds in the Civil Lines, where government officials were housed. Their homes had spacious central courtyards where the family would sleep in the open in the summers, reserving the surrounding rooms for the cold winter months. Their rather large compound would include the surrounding wilderness, sometimes even with the Ganga on one side as when they lived in Ghazipur. In the Civil Lines, Mrs. Rizvi reveals, they were not Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, or Christians, they were considered as government families. She says that there were no religions in friendship, religion was just a reminder to love others. After Partition, Mrs. Rizvi married Mr. Yusuf Zaki Rizvi. The marriage was an arranged one and he grew to be her lifelong companion. They wed in Lucknow, lived in Raipur for a little while, and moved to Mumbai where they raised their children. During her life, Mrs. Rizvi has enjoyed being a homemaker, a wife, mother to three, and a grandmother to six. She strives to promote friendship and understanding between all people in her daily life. Mrs. Rizvi also volunteered for various NGOs and social organizations. She has guest starred on several All India Radio shows focused on women. These days, Mrs. Rizvi lives with her daughter's family in the United States where she also continues to write short stories inspired by current world events and joyous occasions in her life that she shares with her friends.
Filmed interviews and History
English, Hindi, and Urdu
Physical Description:
5 video files
Publication Info:
Cupertino (Calif.)
Cupertino (Calif.), December 17, 2015
Filmed interviews