Gratitude of Tears
Imagine - just imagine visiting the graves of the family that saved the life of your grandparents about 75 years ago during a bloody civil war...
Yes - yesterday on November 28, 2021, after nearly 75 years, I paid my heartfelt and much overdue gratitude at two small graves in Ibban Wali, Pakistan of the Muslim family, Bashir Ahmed Virk and Amna Bibi, who give refuge to my Sikh grandparents, Captain Ajit Singh Butalia and Sardarni Narinder Kaur, in Lahore during the bloody partition of South Asia of 1947.
Bashir Ahmed Virk, the father of current MNA of Gujranwala Mehmood Bashir Virk, swore upon on the Quran that my grandfather was his brother - saving the life of my grandparents and two uncles.
Amna Bibi stitched new clothes with her own hands for my grandparents and took care of my two uncles - one of whom was about 3 months old at the time.
It is said that the goodness of our ancestors always continues but my visit focused on lifting up the multiplication of such goodness by the generations of tomorrow.
At both the graves, I offered the same prayer - may more people in the world, especially in the Land of the Five Rivers, be more like Ahmed Sahib and Amna Bibi so we can wash the bloodstains of the partition of our common homeland of Panjab with our mutual love and compassion.
It is time for South Asians to transform the wall of partition that we have drawn in our hearts from one of the enemies on the other side to one of the friends on the other side.
As I said goodbye to the graves, I knelt down to kiss them. And that is when words of gratitude dried up and the gratitude of tears overflowed.
Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia currently serves as the Executive Director of Religions for Peace, USA.
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