Rediscovering a Forgotten Partition-Era Letter

In a recent trip to our family home, my mom rediscovered an old postcard addressed to my great-grandfather, Mohammad Ali Mirza. The letter was sent to him on October 17, 1947 in the aftermath of the partition of British India by his Hindu friend Diwan C. Khanna, who had to flee from Lahore to Delhi. It is a really interesting primary source that gives insight into the pain and grief that those who had to leave their lives and homes behind felt at the time. I’ve written a longer article analyzing the letter and what I think it means for Indians and Pakistanis today, which can be read both in the Indian publication The Quint and in the Pakistani publication The Express Tribune.

Below is the full text of the letter, along with scans of the front and back of the original document:

Mirza Mohd. Ali Sb.
[address removed]

[address removed]
New Delhi

My dear Mirzasahib

I arrived here safely this morning. I can’t thank you sufficiently for all you so willingly & gladly did for me. The part which Begum Sahiba played was noble. You have proved what friendship is. I shall ever remain grateful. Please convey my thanks to Begum Sahiba. I am unhappy to be separated from you & other friends. I would like to die in Pakistan than to live in India shall it be possible. My wife & children have been happy to receive me. They were worrying a lot. I had a troublesome journey & that too by stages. Anyhow I reached here with some luggage, arms and one bedding. The rest of the things are at Amritsar which I shall manage to get soon.

With sincere thanks yours sly [sincerely]
Diwan C. Khanna



One response to “Rediscovering a Forgotten Partition-Era Letter”

  1. Had a beautiful coincidence (is anything ever a coincidence?) of stumbling onto this blog post while listening to Abida Parveen’s version of Dhoondo Ge Agar Mulkon Mulkon. This makes me very nostalgic.

    Growing up we would find our place on the floor around Dada as he narrated the heart-wrenching tales of his journey home. He told us the same story over and over again, always adding an extra detail here and there.

    I wonder how they felt back then – the bittersweetness of losing a home and finding a new one.

    Thank you for sharing this, it’s lovely.