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The 1947 Partition Archive Survivors and their Memories

Oral history with Mai Taji, 2016 January 16.
Oral history with Mai Taji, 2016 January 16.
Taji, Mai, 1941- and Hassan, Fakhra
Author (no Collectors):
Taji, Mai, 1941-, Hassan, Fakhra, Hassan, Fakhra, and Hassan, Fakhra
Mai Taji [name at birth Taj Din] was born in 1941 to a Punjabi-speaking family at Daleri town in Amritsar District, Punjab. Their father Muaaz Din was a farmer, and their mother Fazal Bibi was a homemaker. Taji is the youngest of two brothers and four sisters, and grew up at Amritsar before Partition. Sharing their earliest recollections of childhood, Taji says that the agrarian families in their town were engaged in the barter trade where wheat and rice were exchanged amongst them quite often.The family diet was vegetarian, and brassware was used for cooking and consumption. They used to play the game of Kokla Chapaki with friends in the mohallah from all faiths quite often. The clothing worn at home was plain khaddar, stitched by their mother and sisters at home.Taji says they must have been six or seven years old when they had to leave their homes at Daleri. “There was an announcement in our area. We were told that anyone who wants to leave for Pakistan should do it now or living conditions could get worse in Amritsar,” They recounts.Taji says that their family moved to Lahore via the Wagah Park immediately after that announcement. “It was two months before riots broke out in Amritsar and everywhere else,” They says. Taji did not witness any violence and killings himself but recalls hearing stories from elders about what was happening. From Lahore, Taji’s family went to Kana village in Kasur where they settled permanently. Neither Taji nor their siblings obtained any formal schooling, and Taji’s elder brothers became daily wage workers to support the family. Taji’s father died eight years after Partition. After reaching teens, Taji switched to silk wear for attending special occasions like village festivals, melas and weddings.During the same time, Taji met their first guru. “I found him while buying vegetables at a market near the Kot Lakhpat railway stop. His name was Safdar. He was veterinarian doctor specializing in livestock and cattle, and an army officer. He hired me as his assistant and taught me how to prepare injections for the animals,” Taji says. After spending some years at their clinic, Taji started work at a tandoor where they kneaded dough for rotis, for two decades. They quit the job after developing a form of vision impairment, and have been at their parents’ home in Kasur ever since. They have many followers from the khwaja sira community in Lahore. Taji depends on them for their daily living expenses nowadays. Their mother passed away in the early 1970s. Taji continues to live at their parents’ home in Kani, Kasur, and reverted to male clothing in the late 90s.Taji believes that the generation today is suffering from a culture of individualized lifestyles. “The isolation and the restlessness we have comes from that culture. We need to bring back the days when it was considered normal for people in one mohallah to get together in one place and share their happiness and sorrows like a joint family system.”On nostalgia concerning their childhood at Amritsar, they say: “There is nothing compared to memories of one’s birthplace, the home one grows up in, and friends from the mohallah one used to play with. No one wants to be forced out of their houses all of sudden. The pain of losing home is unbearable, especially when we really had no choice in the matter. It makes me very sad to think of our lost childhood, even today.”
History and History
Urdu and Panjabi
Physical Description:
2 video files
Publication Info:
Lahore (Pakistan)
Lahore (Pakistan), January 16, 2016
Filmed interviews