Poetry by Abdul Jamil Urfi
Delhi in the 1960’s: Nostalgia about Lahore was high. Partition displaced refugees spoke of misery, mayhem, murder. Deda Ji regretted that, at the time of leaving, a pillowcase of house jewels was misplaced. Bhabhi Ji had similar regrets-- leaving priceless possessions behind in Lahore and friends. But what struck us-- newcomers to the grand city were the names of shops. So many of them were named after places in Western Punjab, or those now in Pakistan. For instance, A popular eatery called ‘Lahorian di Hatti’ ‘Quetta DAV School’. Small eateries served dishes called ‘Pindi ke Chholey Bhatoorey’. A shop with the name ‘New Lyallpur Cloth House’. There were ‘Lahorian Jewellers’, ‘Sindh Wood & Ply’, Karachi Sweet Shop, Karachi Stationery Mart, Quetta Store, Peshawar Sweet Bhandar, Lahore Watch Co., Sialkot Jewellers and also ‘Abbott Drycleaner’s’, whose shop, it turned out, had not been named after some monastery’s abbot but after ‘Abbottabad’ --a town in Pakistan (made famous by the capture of Osama Bin Laden by US Navy Seals) Thus, many places in erstwhile undivided India, but no more in India now. Lahore, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Lyallpur, Sindh, Abbottabad, Karachi, Peshawar, Sialkot made their presence felt in a walk in any area of Delhi. The Partition displaced people had suffered immense tragedies and losses And had also brought a little bit of their homeland with them.
Abdul Jamil Urfi published ‘Memoirs of the bygone century, Beeswin Sadi- Growing up in Delhi during the 1960’s and 70’s’, which was extracted and reviewed in The Friday Times (Lahore), Firstpost, India of the Past, Caleidescope, New Asian Writing, Scroll.in and The Quint. He works in Delhi as a university teacher. His poems have appeared in ‘Skylark’, NAW and Vayavya.
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