“In the year 1925 in Lahore, India, the joyous Berry family was blessed with a baby girl. They named her Pushpa (meaning flower). The kind of love Professor Aloknath Berry showered on her little princess was out of bounds. He wanted her to read and to blossom into an independent woman. As a little girl, Pushpa would read books to her father and before she could finish one she’d ask for more; “Would you get me a new one tomorrow, baba?” the answer was always a yes.
Being born in a liberal and affluent family she was raised right. Pushpa valued what she was blessed with. Growing up, when her friends were burdened with household work, she went on to pursue a degree in English literature from the Lahore university.
Times were tough, with the rise of the Indian Freedom Movement things were restless and the growing political tension among the leaders tore India apart. Political rivalry budded and before people could realize they had to pick sides. The heavily charged communal atmosphere and the deep distrust between the religious communities took Aloknath Berry away in the bloody violence of 1947. Fear and hate filled the hearts of millions and Berry family was one among them.
Pushpa, a shattered and torn young girl, crossed the border to the refugee camps in Delhi with her mother Janki. Fear and loss concreted in her tender heart. Days felt like years in the unwelcoming and harsh city. She would often wake up in the middle of the night to the screams of her mother. She’d close her eyes and pictures of mobs burning her home down, baba screaming with pain, his coat on fire, asking her to run for her life would come alive. She would reach for the golden watch under her pillow and hold it close to her heart.
“Keep this with you and keep going, just like it does. You know what to do when it stops” baba had said.
“Wind it with love and courage and keep going, tick-tock” she’d whisper to herself each night.
It was the only piece of baba that she was left with. She’d wind the watch and hear it ticking away.
Like that, days ticked away. They moved to Ludhiana where Janki found a job in a local library. Pushpa went ahead and completed her education. Her mother could not stay away from baba for long, her illness took her away quickly. Pushpa met a man at the university, married him. Moved to a small town in Madhya Pradesh and started a beautiful family with him.”
As I put the last full stop above, I look across the room. I see her sitting by the window, sipping tea, reading The Sound of the Wind; that’s Pushpa, my grandmother. Just yesterday she gave me the golden watch, I have it on my arm this moment. She says I am just like her. Young and vibrant.
Tick-tock, I’ll go by the watch grandma. Just like you.