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Edinburgh Inter Faith Association

A Registered Charity in Scotland SCO 17622

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Sikh Hardships and Memories of Partition - Galab Singh

 

My family, starting from my great, great grandfather, first came over to Great Britain in the late 50s. He was a worker, and he came over originally by himself, and started a job, mostly in retail- so he done the trade that he knew best. Going before that [we] lost quite a lot in the 1947 partition between India and Pakistan- we had a fairly good sized business and houses and everything. And it was all over on that side of the border [in what is now Pakistan], and unfortunately when the partition happened we lost it all- we had to literally grab everything that we had in our hands. My Grandmother used to tell me this

story- they had to fill the pockets of their jackets with anything, cups and plates, and whatever we could physically carry. They had to leave their house on a days notice and move country. They actually lost members of the family on their [journey] out of the country and into India- the Punjab side.

 

We lost basically everything we had, so we had to start all over again, in Punjab. And then a year passed and he [great great grandfather] decided that he wanted to go and visit the UK and he worked here for a couple of years before he had earned enough money to start sending people over. In those days people used to come over on a boat, and [the journey] used to take them a month, or 30 odd days. So this could have taken place over the span of nearly 3 years- where every couple of months he would send over my gran or my auntie or my uncles. [We lived in England originally] but it seemed like the further up the country we were coming, the better it was getting!

 

I looked into all of the history, and I spoke to my uncles, and aunties who lived there and they told me these stories- there was about 16 of them in a one bedroom flat- and it had no central heating, it was just a stove, and they used to heat the water up to have a bath. There were mice and rats and everything like that. They stayed there for a little while, and eventually they managed to get enough money again to buy a property. So they got a basement flat, and they all moved in: my Dad got married there, I was born, and then all the generations started to come.