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The 1947 Partition Archive Survivors and their Memories

Oral history with Kidar Jain, 2015 December 26.
Oral history with Kidar Jain, 2015 December 26.
Jain, Kidar Nath, 1937, Dhir, Keshav J., Jain, Shaili, and Ghani, Imran
Author (no Collectors):
Jain, Kidar Nath, 1937, Dhir, Keshav J., Jain, Shaili, Jain, Shaili, and Ghani, Imran
In the fall of 1947, Kidar Nath Jain was a boisterous ten-year-old boy living in Jhelum, Punjab. When he saw buses lining the streets outside his childhood home, offering to take passengers to India, he was curious. One day, he boarded one, accompanied by his brothers and sister. He was told that their father would join them a few days later. The bus took them on a journey from Jhelum to Lahore, over the Atari border to Amritsar, India. He loved the journey and the excitement of travelling to an unknown place. Mr. Jain remembers how dark and quiet it was when they arrived in Lahore, and that the passengers were discouraged from leaving the bus, or buying treats or food from street vendors. Today, Mr. Jain still summons the excitement he felt when he boarded that bus, and the eagerness he felt for his journey to India. He recalls how, as a boy, he fully expected that when the adventure was over he would return home. As a ten-year-old, he could never imagine that he would leave his childhood home and ancestral land forever, and that he would never again return to Jhelum. Today, as an adult he shudders to think of the dangers of that bus journey. Their bus had no police or army guard, but they managed to arrive safely in Amritsar. Mr. Jain and his siblings resided temporarily with relatives in Amritsar. Every day, they would run anxiously to greet buses arriving from Pakistan and search for their father. He had promised he would meet them in Amritsar in a few days. Over and over again they scoured the buses, but there was no sign of their father. When Mr. Jain and his siblings learned that their father had been killed before crossing the border, he felt his world collapsing around him. From that point on Mr. Jain endured a very challenging time in his life, he shares. He went from living with privilege to being identified as refugee, living in an orphanage, and later, becoming a child laborer to support himself and his family. For years he still dreamt of being reunited with his father, since he would hear news of families being reunited all the time, but his dreams did not became a reality. In his dreams, Mr. Jain would come to know a familiar feeling of suffocation, and the sensation that someone, or something, was trying to kill him. In the years that followed, Mr. Jain had given up on his education and began working as a laborer in a hosiery factory in Ludhiana. More misfortune followed when his elder brother, Roshan Lal, died of rheumatic heart disease. Before he passed away, his brother had impressed upon the Mr. Jain the value of education and the importance seeing it through. So, Mr. Jain spent his days working and nights studying. He had no financial security and his younger siblings now depended on him for food and clothes. The Partition meant they had lost their home, land, family belongings and heirlooms. The only income they had was their father’s modest government pension that Roshan had been able to secure for them. Mr. Jain managed to excel in spite of his difficult circumstances, and by his early twenties he had earned a master’s degree in English language and literature.Mr. Jain's degree made him eligible for an arranged marriage with his wife who would prove to be a steadfast, loving companion of over fifty years. Together they navigated through the stresses and hardships of life, Mr. Jain shares. His educational attainment would also enable him to migrate to England, where he and his wife had five children and eight grandchildren. When times were challenging, Mr. Jain always turned to classic books of science, humanities, philosophy and spirituality. A defining force in his life has been a strong desire to restore his family's well-being to what is was before Partition, he shares, and to never forget the lives lost in 1947.Mr. Jain stresses the value of education to his children and grandchildren. Today, Mr. Jain feels content and at peace with his life in England, a country which, after many decades, he now considers his home. Mr. Jain continues to have an insatiable thirst for knowledge across the humanities and sciences. He feels that if every person took it upon themselves to think deeply and independently, with a level of skepticism, then tragedies like Partition could be avoided.
Physical Description:
15 video files
Publication Info:
Birmingham (England)
Birmingham (England), December 26, 2015
Filmed interviews