As the video call connected to a phone in the Indian state of Rajasthan state, the 86-year-old woman slowly started to recognize her long lost family members. Seeing them after 70 years apart, she could not help but tear up.
While hoping to reconnect with her family she lost over 70 years ago, Daphia Bai, also known as Aisha, sat on a cot at her home in Mailsi, in the province of Punjab, Pakistan, and stared at her phone. Aisha could not hold her emotions as she talked to them.
Her family talked to her from the city of Bikaner’s Morkhana town, 266 kilometers away. As Aisha and her family, both spoke different languages, they had another person on the call to translate.
The 86-year-old spoke in Seraiki, a language spoken in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Whereas, her family across the border spoke in Marwari, a Rajasthani language.
“I spent all my life crying, I offered money, ghee to people to help locate my family,” Aisha was quoted as saying as she wiped her tears.
Regardless of spending over 70 years apart from her family, she remembered the names of her siblings. Moreover, she also remembered the description of the place where her family-owned land, which according to her had many peacocks.
Searching for a lost family
The old lady’s search for her lost family began after a Pakistani YouTuber Muhammad Alamgir in August 2019 shared a video of her. In the video, he asked if anyone knew about the family of a 13-year-old. A girl who had gotten left behind when they moved to India in 1947.
Aisha’s family frequently traveled to Bikaner. However, after 1947, they decided to stay there permanently. While they moved to the other side of the border during the partition chaos, she was allegedly kidnapped. Later, they married her odd and she eventually had seven children. Yet, her search for her lost family never stopped.
Moreover, her grandson, Naseer Khan said that even after years of her tragic separation from her family, she remembers her siblings. She tells their names as Mira, Chothu, and Alsu. In fact, she even told her children their stories. She told them how Alsu had an injury in one eye and could not see from it.
“She used to tell us about a place in India which had a lot of peacocks…. She used to talk about attending her uncle’s wedding in that town,” Naseer said. The YouTuber, Alamgir came to know about Aisha’s story through his friend who knew Naseer.
How did they find her family?
Alamgir’s channel focuses on people in Pakistan telling tales of the partition. According to a report by the Indian Express, it was 34-year-old, Delhi-based Zaid Muhammad Khan, who first noticed Alamgir’s video. He too had an interest in stories about the partition and decided to help Aisha find her family.
He shared her story on Facebook with people in Bikaner. Reportedly, he did not have much luck with the public records of the people Aisha had named. Meanwhile, Zaid contacted Bharat Singh, who runs a shop in Bikaner’s Morkhana area. He began looking for Meghwal families whose family members may have been lost during the partition.
Luckily, in the second week of September, he came across a family in Morkhana whose elders used to talk about a sister who had got left behind. They had looked for her for years.
On September 13, Singh finally managed to connect a video call to Pakistan. The families also exchanged photos. After Aisha found her family, Alamgir posted an update video on his YouTube channel.
Now Aisha has just one more wish; a visa, so she can travel to India and reunite with her family. Such a heartbreaking yet beautiful tale. May her wish come true!
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