Thumbing Through a Bunch of Old Papers

Last week, I was seeing some old papers, to weed out the ones which I do not need any longer. I saw an irrelevant pencil sketch, and just before throwing it into the dust bin, I noticed that it was the outline of the house we left behind in Pakistan, in 1947, drawn effortlessly by our eldest brother, AVM Manjit Singh (whom we called, ‘Virji’)  See it for yourself.

 features makaan

Suddenly, I was inundated by a flood of memories. The above sketch was made by Virji during his last visit to our house in March 2019. It was a pleasant sunny morning, and he had walked down from his house, with his nurse, Rekha Khan, without ringing us up. He was in the 85th year of his life, and had lost interest in most of the normal topics such as politics and economics. And so we decided to talk about our childhood. At my behest, he drew the above sketch of our house, which was called ‘makaan’ by the people of our village. It was neither a ‘Haveli’ nor a ‘bungalow’.  But it was a large house made of bricks and mortar, and was a landmark in the village. As compared to the houses in Amritsar and Lahore, it was a simple house, with no ostentation.

Our family had lived in Farooka for at least seven generations. No one knows where we were, before that. And if the Radcliffe line had not thrown us out, we might have been living there, even today. In 1947, when we saw it for the last time, Virji was about 13 years old. I was a little over six, and my younger brother Brig Surinder Singh was three. Here is what we looked like, in Jan 1946.

 surinder surjit manmohan manjit 1946

Surinder, Surjit, Manmohan and Manjit in Jan 1946

The Story of the Makaan

The house was planned and built when the school, founded by our saintly grandfather around 1906. But since the school was located more than a kilometre away from the village, it remained unoccupied for a long time. However, when a boarding house came up near the school, our grandmother agreed to shift into it, along with her brother.  Then in 1926, our grandfather passed away. It was an irreparable shock, but God gave our grandmother the strength to run the house, single handed. My memory is faint, but virji described the quality of life in graphic detail. I made a copy of the sketch, and added the features described by him. Have a good look at it, before you proceed further.


Life in the ‘Makaan’

At the outset, it must be remembered that there was no electricity in Farooka, even in 1947. And, therefore, there were no lights, fans, radios and kitchen gadgets. Indeed, the word ‘refrigerator’ had not even been heard. The layout of the house was as follows:

  • Entry into the house was through a door with a large wooden latch. There was a ‘deorhi’ near the door, which served as an ‘ante-chamber’ where the visitors could wait, before being granted an audience with our grandfather. After his demise, this room was rarely used.  The buffalo sheds were located adjacent to that.

  • And then there was the well. I have vivid memories of peeping into the well, and watch the process of drawing water out of it.

  • There was a six foot high wall which separated this area from the courtyard, which was called, ‘vehrha’ in which there were two large cemented seats. On the extreme left, we had a ‘tandoor’ in which ‘rotis’ were baked. All around the courtyard, there were about 15 rooms, and a veranda ran all along. The first room was rented out to a tenant, Master Inder Singh, who virtually became a part of the family.

  • The courtyard was large enough for children to run around and play ball games like ‘Seven tiles’

  • Next to the first room there was a stair way, which led to the room of our great-grand father, Bapu Bhag Singh ji (1843-1947).He lived to be a centenarian. He passed away in April 1947.

  • In the extreme right corner, there was a hallowed room, in which our saintly grandfather, Bhai Hira Singh ji (1869-1926) used to meditate. That room was maintained in its original condition by the family, and no one was allowed to enter into it. The room adjacent to it was a museum, in which the memorabilia and artefacts presented to Bhai Sahib were kept, duly preserved. A few items like his pocket watch, a pair of binoculars his harmonium and some pictures and letters have survived to this date.

  • There were two rooms in which we four brothers lived with our mother, whom we called Jhaiji, from 1942 to 1946, when our father had gone to the Far East, during the World War. Surinder was born in there on 13 Sep 1944.

  • At the extreme end, there was a room in which Lakhmi lived, with her two sons. She was a domestic help, but was treated like a member of the family.

  • At any given point of time there were several relatives, who dropped in and stayed as house-guests for indefinite periods.

  • The kitchen was called ‘chatoori’.  Milk and milk products were the most important part of our diet. There was a ‘tandoor’ in which ‘rotis’ were baked twice a day. And there was no dearth of food, even if lots of guests dropped in, without any prior notice.

Simplicity was the essence

Compared to the houses which I saw soon after the partition (or, Independence, if you like to call it) our Makaan was unpretentious. Even though the rooms were regularly white-washed, the outer side of the walls was not covered with plaster. We slept on the roof all through the summer, and for that, the cots had to be carried upstairs. A few pictures tell the tale better than words.


This is a picture of our father, taken soon after he had purchased an Agfa camera for Rs 5/-

 uncles in 1929

This picture of our uncles was taken by our father in 1929. Notice, that the walls are not plastered


Another picture of the same period.

The School and the Boarding House

I asked my brother to describe the school, since he had studied there for about four years. At my behest, he drew a sketch of the area. It is not to the scale, but does give an idea of their location

 school abd boarding house

The school could not be closer! Virji used to leave home only when the third bell rang. The total number of students was no more than 150, and the attendance rarely exceeded 66%. Since Farooka had a very small population, children from nearby villages were encouraged to join the school. For them, a boarding house had been created, which could accommodate about 30 boys. As a matter of fact, most children could not even afford to pay the tuition fee. A kindly landlord, Bhai Amar Singh (1825-1927) had donated about 100 acres of land to the school, and the income from this farm was used to run the school. For poor children, free boarding was provided. In a letter to the editor of the Tribune, in 1917 talks about this. This letter was reproduced in the Tribune 75 years later, and that is when we got to know about it. A scanned copy of the letter as obtained from the biography of Bhai Hira Singh ji (1869-1926) is given below.

 tribune 1917

This is a scanned copy of pages 86-87 of the book “Amolak Hira”

The School after 1926

During the life of our grandfather, the family seems to have been prosperous. His death was a deadly blow. Our grandmother had five children, the youngest of whom was not yet four years old. But the Lord gave her the strength to run the house at nearly the same standard, right up to 1947, when we were driven out. Without a shadow of doubt, our ‘dadi’ was an ‘iron lady’. Called Bhabhiji by everyone, here is what she looked like.

 prem kaur

Our grandmother, Bhabhi Prem Kaur ji (1879-1967)

Life in Farooka in 1947

From the Internet, I have picked up a few pictures which depict life in that era. They tally with my memories of that period.


Kerosene lamps were the only method to dispel darkness. And k-oil was costly!


The number, and quality of buffalos was a measure of prosperity of a family

 lassi making

This was the most common sight one saw, at dawn

 sat on floor to eat

Every one sat on the floor to eat.


The tandoor was another essential part of houses.



Browsing through the Internet, I discovered that Farooka has been covered very well by Wikipedia. Its population has increased to over 60,000 and the place is known to have produced eminent doctors, engineers and scholars.

Education in Farooqa

There are several high schools in the town: the Government High School, Government Secondary School No. 1 and Government Primary School No. 2. The government high school for boys is the oldest school in the town, established in 1906. Students at this school learn to be doctors, engineers, teachers, financial experts, and bureaucrats. There are two-degree colleges in Farooka, one for boys and one for girls. There is also one government high school for girls. A number of private schools and colleges are also in the area. Hira Model High School (the first private school in this tehsil) is located on the main road and was established in 1980 by educationist professors Rafiq Ahmed and Nisar Ahmed, who swore to provide quality education in the area.

Dar-e-Arqam School, Hussain Campus is located on Sahiwal Road. Other schools include the Qayadat Public School. Ayyan School, under Alhayat Trust, provides free education, uniforms, bags, books, lunches, and pocket money to needy students. Another private school is the Hira Model School

 govt high school farooka



Farooka…..what does that place mean to me? For a habitation as insignificant as Farooka, with its small population, hostile climate and poor infra structure, it ought to mean nothing to a person who was just 3 years old when he left it, never to see it again.

In my formative years, our grandmother, whom we called Bhabhiji, lived with us. Some traumatic events brought her to a state of mind in which Farooka became an obsession with her. Her vivid description of Farooka made her sound like an LP record whose needle gets stuck in a groove. In his later years, our father also became repetitive, as indeed, I myself may be now.

Yet there was one unique thing in Farooka which has made it unforgettable and that was the School which my grandfather founded. It made a huge impact in the entire region. The village with its rustic people and an uncouth dialect seems to have altered the entire life style of hundreds of people, not only from our family but from the entire area.

One such person, who left an indelible mark on my memory was a man called Bogha Ram. He was intelligent and hardworking and made good use of the school to achieve academic excellence. He aspired for a high ranking post in the Govt of India and was to face an interview. He thought his rural sounding name might stand in his way and he was smart enough got his name changed in official records to Raj Kumar. He cleared the interview and, after some years, he was sent to London for training.

When he boarded the ship, he said to himself “Bogha Ram, from Farooka to London, via Raj Kumar.”

As children in our teens we met him, he was serving as a Joint Secretary in the Central Govt, living in a majestic bungalow in New Delhi. He was tall, fair and very impressive to talk to and attributed his success to his alma mater….for which he owed an eternal debt of gratitude to our grandfather.


Whichever way you look at it, the fact of the matter is that the School did make a difference to the lives of the people of Farooka. Its founder, Bhai Hira Singh ji was only 26 years old, when he mooted the idea. And, he was able to carry the people of all communities to join him in his mission.


  1. Your stories are absolutely captivating! Keep up the amazing work, Uncle!

  2. Tausif Akram says:


    I am Tausif Akram From Farooka ( Sargodha ) Punjab pakistan . my Birth place farooka . please visit Farooka ( Farooka High School 1906 to 2021 very good condition )

    i read your story.You are story writer in your fmily. Keeping all records and stories for next generations to read and remember.



  3. Satish Manocha ex CMD ITI says:

    Sep 18, 2020, 4:22 PM (20 hours ago)
    to me, Surinder

    Respected General sir and dear Surinder Singh Brig (R),
    Thank you sir for your beautiful good notes about Farooka.
    It gave me a nice glimpse of where, and how our ancestors , or close neighbors lived since many many generations. Partition in 1947, changed our life altogether.
    I was born in December 1944; in same place like yourself , your other family members, or my batch fellow Brig (R)Surinder Singh.
    Our families were forced out to leave villages, after cruel murders of heads of our families including my father, Lala Wazir Chand ji, his two elder brothers, Lala Ladha Ram ji and Lala Harnam Das ji and their young Jijaji. You know far better about that time. They were Zamindars and with 3 cotton factories of family. All gone overnight in 1947.
    My Dada ji was Lala Moti Ram Minocha. I had family tree upto right generations before me. The big builders of Chandigarh , Minocha Brothers in Sector 9, Chandigarh were from my cousin family. Knew them well, lived for few days in their home during Summer holidays, after start of constructions.
    I had no idea of the grand Village Farooka in Sargodha District. I heard a lot in Delhi from many elders who used to come to meet my mother, or Sh. Shiv Lal ji.
    Many years later , I remember much from Delhi , from Sh. Shiv Lal ji and Satnam Singh ji who were sons of my Taya ji Lala Ladha Ram ji. Heard about our Havelis businesses Farooka , Silanwali.
    We stayed close by in Roop Nagar Delhi, just 2 streets away, opposite one big Park.
    I had great guardian , as my eldest brother ,and smart in many ways, Sh. Inder Nath ji Minocha, B. A. topmost rank from Punjab Univ. Lahore graduated in 1945. He was looking after upgradation of the family cotton factories, in Silanwali . A partnership business firm was formed from Delhi , probably after 1950 , with my eldest brother and cousins Sh Shiv Lal ji and Sh. Satnam Singh ji.
    Sh. Inder Nath ji was like my real God to take our new life forward, in the ideal way of journey in our life of entire families of our grandfather. Well educated and took full responsibilities for all cousins and distant cousins, after partition . His son had come to you once, to collect my phone , I left in your house. Sh Inder Nath worked hard, sincerely looked after everyone, paid for good education, for all girls, boys , for all needs , holidays, wedding etc. each of us and many cousins. Like real father.
    A couple of pictures of Lala Ladha Ram ji are seen by me. Similar to your ancestors.Have great nice memories , both good & bad parts , keenly listening to my elders like yourself sir. Or from your books you gifted me. Got some books from my brother Sh. Inder Nath, even of one ICS officer on partition horrors faced , with awful pictures. Another book gifted and written by Sh. Krishna Sondhi, Ph.D. from Columbia Univ. New York city. Doctorate in Journalism, and my Apartment mate in New York. Book titled ” India Uprooted ” , about their sufferings , though from such family of good successful Engineer of British era . Krishna Sindhi was son of Chief Engineer of bigger Punjab before 1947. Krishna Sondhi was later full time Advisor in Planning Commission on return from New York to Delhi. His younger brother, Manohar Lal Sondhi, won Lok Sabha M. P. seat from Delhi. Old days memories

    Your Chacha ji , ex Army , was a regular visitor to Roop Nagar, a close friend and same age ,class fellow of Sh. Shiv Lal. He participated in annual Akhand Path in memory of our ancestors. Also our weddings.
    Tough to recall such worst times of partition of big India.
    Tons of Thanks for your excellent note , with sketches, notes from your elder brother, Air Marshall (R) on his trip to Farooka.
    My father in law , Sh. Ramji Das was also from Farooka . I heard from him that he was full time advocate for our father and his brothers etc. businesses.. He had studied for B. A. and Law from Delhi Hindu College, which was in Kashmiri Gate in his time.
    Lots later sir. Thank you again sir.
    With kind warm regards to you and family,
    Most Affectionately Yours,
    Satish Manocha,
    9448061434, Bengaluru.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Maj Gen Surjit Singh
      12:48 PM (0 minutes ago)
      to SATISH

      The name of our uncle who was a close friend of Shiv Lal was Maj Agyapal Singh. He expired in 1999.
      Yes indeed. The partition caused havoc. The wounds have not healed, and our generation will never be able to forget the horror.
      As far as I know the business of your family was mainly in Sillanwali and extended to Sargodha. Am I right?
      Do you have any pictures of that era.
      We invite you to write a post for our blog.
      God bless, and please give us an update on your family.

      • Satish Manocha ex CMD ITI says:

        Sep 19, 2020, 8:11 PM (22 hours ago)
        to me

        Tons of Thanks sir .
        You are right. Major Agyapal Singh ji was close friend of our family, and used to meet in Delhi. Once we had gone to his house, near airport , when Russian President, and PM were coming to Delhi; ( Bulganin, and Khrushchev ? ). During PM Mr. Nehru time.
        Brig (R) Surinder Singh had shown me the big Gurudwara in Chandigarh, near your home, where at entrance his contribution , Seva is noted, just before coming to your home.
        Time itself heals, with Blessings of Dhan Guru Nanak Dev ji Maharaj, and elders. More by regular daily meditation, and cleaning from heart.
        Family members travelled by various routes to Delhi, after the tragedies. Wise elders, had found ways to send one of my elder brother Jagdish ji, and a daughter of eldest sister , both very young then nearly of age 8 or 9 years ; by an Air Force aeroplane to Delhi, so that some members may survive life. Coordinates to meet in Delhi at specific place, all were preplanned. The majority rest just walked together most of the journey from Sargodha District. All met again after many days.
        What I learnt was that the farms , Havelis etc. were in Farooka, while the factories and trade etc. from Silanwali mandi. Cotton sales via Karachi for export, and rest by train or roads.
        During British era, export licence for cotton was with Ghanshyam Das Birla only, the protector , guardian of Mahatma Gandhi. Licence regime by heavy bribes continued later, as you know.
        After I was age 10 or so, my mother showed me a few ‘ bahi khata’ , where balance dues from others were pending based on our sales, since years. Never got anything, despite tracing those companies, and even of G. D. Birla . No help got ever from anyone. She felt it best to restart new journey of life in unknown place , like another birth on Earth. Very brave bold decision, we all felt. Minor compensation of properties lost took another ten years. Eldest brother and cousins had brought all original documents to show.
        I have no pictures of ancestors areas. Just remember a few points only , what I heard from close relatives or elder friends of father, or taya ji.
        Sir, I get too much emotional, thus regret I am not writing what you have requested.
        I was second youngest child of my father, and now the eldest alive. Three Bhabhis are there. Unfortunately younger brother left for Brighter world due to heart attack suddenly, in Delhi, in year 2000. Others natural long life on Earth. All families and their dependents are doing great, all doing fine, with good education, great work, sufficient owned new properties & bank balance with hard sincere work all time.
        Baba Guru Nanak Dev ji ki Mehr rahti hae, aur rahti rahegi, we pray. Blessings from many helped all time to us.
        Thank you again sir.
        Yours affectionately,

        Satish Kumar Manocha, Bengaluru.

  4. Brig Dr BD Mishra says:

    B D Mishra
    5:31 PM (6 minutes ago)
    to me

    Dear General,
    ‘MAKAN’ and its owners’, makes an extremely interesting reading.
    My compliments to you for your good writer-ship.
    On 20th July 2020, my 81st Birth Day, I also released a Memorabilia of my ancestral Village in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, for the present and future generations of my Village, to enable them to know and remember their roots. Written in Hindi, it is about my fold’s genealogy, its people, traditions, customs and community events, with a map of the Village as I saw it on 15 August 1947.
    Brig (Dr) B.D. Mishra(retired)
    !3th NCC,,IMA,Course(Equivalent to28th Direct Entry)
    Presently, Governor Arunachal Pradesh

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Honorable Dr Mishra


      How can we get a copy your ‘Memorabilia’ Is it available ‘online’

      With best wishes,

  5. Col MB Jauhari says:

    Dear General Saheb

    I am thankful to almighty that our paths crossed. In my perception we didnt take ,. instant liking to each other.

    I love your posts though i may not always. comment.

    Keep posting, i love to read you. Have a healthy long life.


    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Mahi Bhushan,


      Your words are like music to the ears!

      I have very fond memories of the days we spent together. I found you professionally competent and full of warmth.

      God bless you


  6. Anuradha Dua says:

    Anuradha Dua
    10:46 AM (0 minutes ago)
    to me

    Thank you Gen Surjit .
    Very interesting read — Our Makaan


    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:


      Your messages are very special for us.

      For one thing, they remind me of Rajesh. He was a man so full of life, and yet, he went away soo early!


  7. colls says:

    HUMM TOE AAP kee seva mein rahengay
    khadey khadeyyy

    Glad to see you are now replying
    just make a table of remarks General
    all will swallow
    ONLY PHOOLS like me doooooo
    yyyyOUU can always see me
    trying to pass


    Rain comes silently
    olay—- ice storms
    come suddenly

    lol pl



    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:

      Dear CSM,

      Whether I write something here, or not you are in my thoughts, always and every time.

      Only, I am not as quick as you with words. As you might say, I am tongue (and keyboard) tight.



  8. Col MS Madan says:

    D.S Madan
    10:12 AM (2 hours ago)
    to me

    Hi 2997 – Enjoyed reading your memory lane . Most of our age gp were too young to remember much .


    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:


      It was great talking to you. I am sure we will meet one day! I am told that it is possible to meet on phone-video. Let us organize that, one of these days.


  9. Sitendra Kumar says:

    Sitendra Kumar
    9:09 AM (3 hours ago)
    to me

    Dear Sir,

    A nice glimpse of the Makaan , various activities and your families.
    An era gone by.
    The photos are collector’s items.

    Sargodha played an important role in Indo Pak wars.
    It was targeted by our Air Force and on several occasions, Pak fighters flew from Sargodha to attack us.
    What a comfortable and spacious living was there in those days coupled with pure meals.


    Sitendra Kumar

  10. Anil Mathur says:

    Anil Mathur
    12:09 AM (12 hours ago)
    to me

    Sir, went back in time. Most interesting reading of times gone by. Written very well. Thanks for sharing your days in Farooka. Regards


  11. Dhiraj Mullick says:

    Dear sir,

    Beautiful reliving of your rich ancestral heritage.

    Time does wait for anyone. It comes and it goes. But memories last forever!!

    There is no gain in keeping them locked up. You can take them anywhere. And the best place is to take them is to other peoples hearts. Not just so that they can partake and relive the moments but also because it is the only way to keep the torch burning and help it transcend the generations.

    Thank you for this heart warming piece of history.

    Best regards,

    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:



      For me, you are very dear. You have crossed sixty…but for us, you a young lad.

      I am waiting for the right mood, to convert your ‘hug’ story into a throbbing tale.


  12. Rustom Jamasji says:

    Beautifully shared not only memories but your emotions towards your legacy

    Thank you..
    Happy penning

  13. Maj Gen Sateshwar Chahal says:

    Gen Surjit Sir

    Beautifully narrated. I was reminded of my childhood, our visits to the village about 5 miles from Gurdaspur. ( of course after partition. While reading of Makaan, I felt like I too was there.


    Satti Chahal

    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Chahal,

      Great hearing from you!

      Yes. We did not have all this technology. But we had something which we have lost forever. Drawing water from the well was an exercise by itself. Then tending to the animals was another task which kept us fit. Obesity was unknown to mankind.

      People died early. But they were ‘alive’ as long as they lived!


  14. Satish Kumar Bhandari says:

    satish kumar bhandari
    11:34 AM (0 minutes ago)
    to me

    Beautiful story.


  15. Dr Harmeet Khurana says:

    Dr.Harmeet Khurana
    Wed, Sep 2, 10:23 PM (12 hours ago)
    to me

    Dear Uncle
    Today is indeed a very special day. These articles are a treasure. Will go over each one of them. Thank you for sharing.

    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:


      You are our lifeline! Do find time to call us up, sometimes.
      Best wishes for Deesh ji.

      Surjit Uncle

  16. Anita Chawlatewari says:

    1:14 AM (10 hours ago)
    to me


    What a treasure stash of our heritage and ancestry…on this website…its an absolute delight to read and savour the history and values.
    Bow down in reverence and Pray for our saintly ancestor as we remember him on his death Anniversary!

    Thank you for sharing this !!

    Warm regards,

  17. colls says:

    Dear Sirji ,
    I once advised —any message you get you must reply… only if it be a Thanks .
    But I still observe you reply selectively
    You may revise .
    I on the Poetic Internet reply to unknown poets— ex world— who read me at least a dozen or two plus daily .Of course I’m jobless
    They continue as I reply till I may die .

    Only a suggestion Sir,
    To the whole world you are so dear
    and of course so busy too

    chota bhai jaan


    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:

      CSM Sir,

      You are a million times more prolific. Words come out your keyboard like rain drops.
      I seem to have to labour over them.

      Regrads for
      veena ji.

      Surjit Surinder

      • colls says:

        Glad to see you are now replying
        just make a table of remarks General
        all will swallow
        ONLY PHOOLS like me doooooo
        yyyyOUU can always see me

        Rain comes silently
        olay ice storms
        come suddenly


        AAP KA HAMESHA JAISE ”’SEVADAR ==batty ”’
        lol pl

  18. Manish S Chawla says:

    Dear Surjit Uncle & Surinder Uncle,
    Received Surjit Uncle’s mail & was delighted to read more about my Great Grandfather – Bhai Hira Singh Ji Who Went To God This Very Day – The 2nd Sept-1926.

    He was indeed a saintly human being & I am proud to be his Great Grandson!!!!!!

    I posted it on my status too!!!!!!

    It was very nice to read about the memories so well written by you & I was amazed seeing the pictorial dipiction of that time & was indeed a pleasure to go through the same.

    I am asking my father if he has any memories / stories which I can send u & pics as well!!!!!

    Thank U So Very Much For The History I am Proud Of!!!!!


    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:

      Manish, I am impressed by the way you express your sentiments. And we are sanguine that your genes are the same as ours. After all, the DNA has to show up somewhere! I think you must persuade your father to recount his memories of his childhood. I think that if he writes something about his days in Lahore, and then those early days in Bombay, it might make interesting reading. God bless! And I am waiting to hear the voice of your sister. She said she would call us up, but has not kept her word. The Chawla clan believes in the dictum, “Pran jaaye, par vachan na jaye!” Surjit Uncle

    • Brig Surinder Singh says:

      Dear Manish
      Your association with us will further strengthen the bonds that hold our family together.
      In these times of idleness there can be no better pastime than to perpetuate the memory of a noble soul like that of our grandfather.
      In Sydney his death anniversary was celebrated in 5 gurdwaras.
      In USA and UK also he is mentioned on various occasions.
      In India, Surjit is at it spreading his message far and wide.
      It is inspirational and invigorating.
      Join in..the more the better!

    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:


      Thanks. you are full of affection…it is overflowing !

      I wish we had known you earlier. “But, better late than never”


  19. Kujad Jani says:

    Kujad Jani
    6:00 PM (27 minutes ago)
    to me


    The description is so Gripping and interesting !! Typical pictures of 40′s !!
    Those were the Days !!
    Thanks for sharing.


  20. Col KJ Chugh says:

    5:58 PM (28 minutes ago)
    to me

    Great reading. Laudable.
    We came here in 1947 from Bannu.
    Best wishes
    Col. KJ Chugh

  21. Brig Surinder Singh says:

    All my dear family members,

    Amolak Hira…A precious jewel was written by Pitaji. There has been a persistent demand for an English version of this book.

    Though some thought was given to this by all of us but it has not yet seen the light of the day probably because translation per se is an uninspiring task in which the end result is diluted in essence.

    Surjit has conceived a proposal in which his pieces on the subject are stitched together and partly cover the material. These pieces have been written by him in his own inimitable style and have been well received

    He has now asked all of you to motivate me to do the honours even though he mentioned it to me only last night when I was on the dialyses table.

    I feel that all of us can collectively do this. On my part I will do my bit…rest assured.

    On this eventful day, the second of September 2020, let us make a beginning and complete it in some finite timeframe…an indefinite plan is a never ending plan.

    Wishing you all and your family members a happy and healthy time ahead.


  22. Prakash Bambwale says:

    Prakash Bambawale
    5:24 PM (18 minutes ago)
    to me

    Unfortunately, all such memories will go with our generation!


  23. Lt Gen RK Mehta says:

    Raj Mehta
    11:42 AM (5 hours ago)
    to me

    Thanks for sharing.


  24. Col Arun Joshi says:

    arun joshi
    8:22 AM (9 hours ago)
    to me

    Thank you. Extremely interesting


  25. K Ramani says:

    Ramani k
    Tue, Sep 1, 9:00 PM (20 hours ago)
    to me

    Dear Gen Surjit,

    I read each word, Very fascinating much like our family. Simple living , The school ,amazing and to have a boarding house and look after poor children , Your grand father was a great man ,as was iron lady with Will YOUR GRAND MOTHER..
    Life was simple. What we humans do to ourselves !!!! Who benefited ??

    these questions have no answers and futile to answer them .

    Thank you for sharing.
    I lived in those rooms and in those times. Very satisfying

    God Bless

    k ramani

  26. Col RS Gandhi says:

    randhir singh
    Sep 1, 2020, 7:38 PM (22 hours ago)
    Thanks a lot for sharing.

  27. Maj Gen PJS Sandhu says:

    General Sandhu
    Tue, Sep 1, 7:24 PM (22 hours ago)
    to PremParkash, Gurinder, Suraj, me

    Dear Commander Batra,
    Thank you for the write up. Brings back many a memories which I imbibed from my parents of that period. At the time of partition, I was a little more than two years old. My paternal side were in Chak 29 SB(South Branch) and maternal side from Village Chak 126 SB. My maternal grandfather was S Kehar Singh who was also the Nambardar of his village. In 1947, the paternal side shifted to Chak 32 BB in Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan and the maternal side to Vairowal in Amritsar. We ( mother and self) travelled with the Kafila in 1947 While father who was posted as Staff Captain A Quetta Sub Area travelled separately after being relieved about a month after partition.
    Just felt like sharing these details of that period which is ingrained in memory and refuse to go away.
    Major General Prince Jit Singh Sandhu
    Mobile: 9910224539

  28. Wg Cdr DPS Dhillon says:

    Wg Cdr DPS Dhillon
    Tue, Sep 1, 7:21 PM (22 hours ago)
    to me

    Amazing sir, the credit goes to your grandfather for opening up a school those days and now there are so many schools and colleges in Farooka


  29. Jasdev Singh says:

    Jasdev Singh
    Tue, Sep 1, 7:17 PM (22 hours ago)
    to me

    Beautiful Piece papa .

    I remember seeing the pics with you and some more pics are added .

    It’s a memory that should rightfully be passed on to generations .

    I specially loved the description of the Radcliffe line ( which I do not remember studying in history classes in school )

    Had it not been drawn, we would still be living in farooka .

    What a beautiful thought !!!

    And It could have been true , like it was for our 7 generations before.



  30. Vivek Bopiah says:

    Vivek Bopiah
    Tue, Sep 1, 6:40 PM (22 hours ago)
    to me

    Thank you Sir for your nostalgic rendition of your ancestral house, school and your village. It must have been a very moving experience for you.

    I wish you had written a bit of the present owners, how they got your place, if the school is still running and the reception you got on visiting the place of your birth.
    You must also write a book on your vast experience in the Army covering specially little known facets of soldiering and wars of that time which have changed the ethos now.
    Warm regards.


  31. NP Singh says:
    Tue, Sep 1, 5:48 PM (23 hours ago)
    to me


    Very nostalgic and tempting. Historical.

    With Regards,


  32. Col PP Kumar says:

    phaneedra kumar
    Tue, Sep 1, 5:40 PM (23 hours ago)
    to me

    Very Nostalgic & moving sir !!!!

    Feel Honoured for including me ….

    Col PP Kumar (Retd)
    191, Sector-A, AWHO Colony,
    Gun Rock Enclave
    Tel no 040 27890326

  33. Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh says:

    Harbhajan Singh
    Tue, Sep 1, 5:39 PM (23 hours ago)
    to me

    Dear Surjit Ji,

    Fascinating description and remembrances of your house in Farooqa.

    Kindly ask your brother and advise:-

    1. Was there canal near Farooka while you were there!
    2. Did any Muslim boys study in the School started by your respected Grandfather!
    3. How did he learn Rag Vidya!
    4. Your description suggests there were Sikhs in Farooka area in the 18th Century also ie may be before
    Ranjit Singh’s time.

    In late 1700-early 1800 Farooka area would have been rather isolated for Sikhs. Mostly people called JANGLIS inhabited the area.

    Sargodha Bar came in to existence in 1900 or so and my grandfather moved from near Narowal (Sialkot Dist). Our Chak was just 5 miles down stream of the Canal from Sargodha. Sikh agriculturists moved in the area at that time and Sargodha City also took simultaneously. Earlier Dist HQ was at Shahpur and it remained so up to Partition. It is after 1947 that it became a District HQ.


    Harbhjan Singh

    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:

      Respected Virji,
      My brother, AVM Manjit Singh passed away on 9 Dec 2019, after a sudden cardiac arrest arrest. In my heart, you occupy that position now.
      The canal was about three miles away from Farooka. Our mother’s village called “Chitraud” was served by the canal. My ancestors appear to have been living there long before this canal was built. They were transporters. Our father researched their lives, and I translated his words into English. Kindly click on the following link for more information on this:
      Music came into our family through a muslim classical singer, Hasna by name. Our great-grandfather could play several instruments, including the ‘Taus’
      Indeed, it was our grandfather, who attained the celebrity status when he was just about twenty years old. He was blessed.
      Faruka was a Muslim village, demographically. But a great deal of land was owned by Sikhs and Hindus. There was no communal tension. The uncrowned king of the village was Mian Alla Yaar Kalyar, and he whole-heartedly supported the creation of the Khalsa School, which was partially funded by the “Sikh Education Conference” And the local people gave liberal donation. One ‘Maha-daani’ Bhai Amar Singh ji donated four ‘Murabbas’ of land! Indeed, the muslim boys studied in the school, and also recited gurbani. For a detailed account of the school, please click on the following link. I was, until recently, in touch with the Fateh Mohd Kalyar, a grandson of Allah Yaar. In Farooka, there was no bloodshed during the partition.

      We would be greatly obliged if you can tell us the story of your life, during the pre-partition days.


    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:

      My brother, AVM Manjit Singh passed away on 9 Dec 2019, after a sudden cardiac arrest arrest. In my heart, you occupy that position now.
      The canal was about three miles away from Farooka. Our mother’s village called “Chitraud” was served by the canal. My ancestors appear to have been living there long before this canal was built. They were transporters. Our father researched their lives, and I translated his words into English. Kindly click on the following link for more information on this:
      Music came into our family through a muslim classical singer, Hasna by name. Our great-grandfather could play several instruments, including the ‘Taus’
      Indeed, it was our grandfather, who attained the celebrity status when he was just about twenty years old. He was blessed.
      Faruka was a Muslim village, demographically. But a great deal of land was owned by Sikhs and Hindus. There was no communal tension. The uncrowned king of the village was Mian Alla Yaar Kalyar, and he whole-heartedly supported the creation of the Khalsa School, which was partially funded by the “Sikh Education Conference” And the local people gave liberal donation. One ‘Maha-daani’ Bhai Amar Singh ji donated four ‘Murabbas’ of land! Indeed, the muslim boys studied in the school, and also recited gurbani. For a detailed account of the school, please click on the following link. I was, until recently, in touch with the Fateh Mohd Kalyar, a grandson of Allah Yaar. In Farooka, there was no bloodshed during the partition.

      We would be greatly obliged if you can tell us the story of your life, during the pre-partition days.


      • Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh says:

        Dear Surjit Ji,

        Thank you very much. Fascinating account indeed of your elders; Great Grandfather and Grand Father. Also the photographs.

        I am now much better informed about Ragi Sahib Hira Singh Ji and his father, as also about Farooka.

        For us who have some attachment with Sargodha area due to our memories, it is soo sentimental. After us it will be a forgotten chapter.

        I feel humbled to be considered your elder brother.

        Warm regards.


        Harbhajan Singh

  34. Wg Cdr DP Sabharwal says:

    Dharam Paul Sabharwal
    Tue, Sep 1, 5:25 PM (1 day ago)
    to me

    Dear Sir
    Thanks for sharing.
    I didn’t work under your brother, but met and interacted with him many times.
    Wg Cdr DP Sabharwal, Veteran

  35. Yogish Chander Mehra says:

    Tue, Sep 1, 4:05 PM (1 day ago)
    to, me

    Like always your dwelling in past brings out some simple but spectacular real life stories, this is no different sir. You have meticulous record of past including pictures which we, unfortunately had to leave to catch a flt from Peshawar to Delhi.
    While working post retirement, every year was invited to Karachi to attend Petroleum Conference & one year ihad half a mind to attend. Called up Pak Embassy to grant me a visa to cover Peshawar. No way was the reply but when i retorted that u can’t stop me, the guy became furious & was told “Damn it, i was born at Peshawar”. Immediately the tone changed & he said, sir u shall hv one.
    My wife put her foot down saying knowing you, i can’t take a risk of allowing you to make it. Pak missed a Jhadav

  36. Prem Batra says:

    PremParkash Batra
    Sep 1, 2020, 3:23 PM (1 day ago)
    to generalsandhu, Gurinder, Suraj, Maj

    Dear Surjit,


    FYI, Maj Gen Prince Inderjit S Sandhu, if I remember correctly, is also from SARGODHA District.

    Incidentally, Colonel Surjit Singh/Corps of Engineers/12th JSW/Baker Squadron, was first cousin of my Mother. Surjit’s Mother and my NAANI were real real Sisters. Surjit’s Father S Anup Singh and my Father were very close Friends, besides being related. Many of our relations are Sikhs, but the closeness has diminished, though Old Timers are there DUKH SUKH.

    If you have ever stayed in Bombay, MAKER BHAVANS are well known. Mrs Maker too was a BATRA from SARGON. Mr AS MAKER was my Father’s TEHSIL TALAGANG, where his Family house just across the Street. Brig Surjit S married Mr MAKERS Elder Brother’s Granddaughter of S KIRPAL SINGH in BOMBAY. One Brother married a Maharashtra Girl. Col Surjit’s Daughter a Model and we had many meetings NOIDA/DELHI. It did not materialized. We attended’s Surjit’s BHOG’s Ceremony in a GURUDWARA in NOIDA. Strangely, his Daughter/Son was married and Air Marshal CHHABRA/Navigator, who was my Div Off in George Squadron, was present there too. World is small Surjit. Surjit was married to Income Tax Commissioner in Bombay too. I too had close interactions with MAKERS.

    My NAANKAS were in WARWAAL/CHAKWAAL. They had a huge House and same DIYA, you have shown. And a separate HAVELI for two Buffalo’s, 1 Cow, 1 Mule/Donkey and a Horse with a Well. I too was 11+ years when we Left Pakistan.

    My Father, had always ensured, a Cow at Home, a normal in Police those days. In our this House, was the last time, we had our Cow. It was stolen just before my Elder’s Brother’s marriage. GHAR KAA DOODH AUR MAKHANN BAHUT KHYA, DEHRADUN/JSW.

    My DADAKs TALAGANG has grown as big Town and is now attached to CHAKWAAL. Distance between WRAWAAL and TALAGANG was about 20 Miles which we would use to do on CAMEL. WARWAAL has become a huge CANTONMENT, and those going there are now allowed cross SWAN River BRIDGE. Even GOOGLE does not show much.

    My MAMA and Surjit’s Elder Brother, a COLONEL SWAMBERJIT SINGH too, we all wanted too breathe our last in WARWAAL. My NAANKA were famous SEED MERCHANTS. TALAGANG at one time was TEHSIL of ABOTTABAAD, then RAWALPINDI, then of CAMPBALPUR, JEHLUM and now of CHAKWAAL which has been upgraded to a District.

    BHAGAT SINGH was from SARGODHA. We too had discussions too with one Mr GILL from SARGODHA.

    Surjit world is very small, Sir.


    Prem Batra

  37. Dr Harmeet Khurana says:

    Dr.Harmeet Khurana
    Tue, Sep 1, 2:54 PM (1 day ago)
    to me


    Thank you for the vivid account of life in Farukka. Grateful to you for sharing such interesting details

  38. Col ABS Sidhu says:

    ABS Sidhu
    Tue, Sep 1, 2:45 PM (1 day ago)
    to me

    Hi Surjit ,
    Thanks for sharing happy memories of
    your ancestral house in Pakistan .
    With warm regards .
    ABS Sidhu

  39. Dushyant Singh says:

    Dushyant Singh
    Tue, Sep 1, 2:38 PM (1 day ago)
    to me

    Many thanks, indeed indebted to you for this account


  40. Maj Rajinder Singh says:


    Priceless….. deep rooted nostalgia


  41. Col Virender Kapoor says:

    virender kapoor
    Tue, Sep 1, 1:23 PM (1 day ago)
    to me

    Sir this is epic and brilliant.Thank you for sharing.
    warm regards

    Virender Kapoor

    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:



      I keep hearing about you in social as well as print media. You have done us proud!

      Lage raho, Virender Bhai!!!


  42. Brig PT Gangadharan says:

    Sep 1, 2020, 12:22 PM (1 day ago)
    to Maj, me

    Thanks a lot for sharing.


  43. Col IP Singh says:



    IP Singh

  44. RS Bhatti says:

    Rajinder Bhatti
    1:48 PM (3 hours ago)
    to me

    We all are blessed


  45. Gulzar Singh says:

    Gulzar Singh
    11:59 AM (5 hours ago)
    to Surinder, J, me

    Respected Chacha Ji,

    Sat Sri Akal.

    Remembering our elders today.

    I remember all the ceremonies, functions that we were privileged to attend especially when I was staying with Agyapal Chachaji, in Sector 27.

    Proud to be a member of this family.


    Gulzar Singh
    House No. 2487, Block F
    Palam Vihar
    Near Columbia Asia Hospital
    Gurugram (Haryana)
    Pin Code : 122017
    Mob : +91 9999411199 ; +91 9555591111

  46. Col KN Jetly says:

    Kailash Jetly
    Tue, Sep 1, 3:56 PM (1 day ago)
    to surjit

    Respected Sir,
    It was a nice and emotional write up which was fwd to me by my coursemate Col RP Singh.
    I must complement your elder brother and yourself for putting these details in black and white. All those of us, whose families migrated from that side, get emotional on reading /watching events of that era.
    I am Col KN Jetly (Retd), 66 yrs old from PUNJAB REGT and staying in Panchkula.
    With warm Regards
    Kailash Jetly

  47. Col Satyapal Sahrawat says:

    satyapal sahrawat
    Tue, Sep 1, 7:42 PM (21 hours ago)
    to surjit

    Dear Sir
    Thanks for sharing your memories about Faruka.
    Having studied in a similar type of village boarding school, it was very easy to relate to the wonderful, dignified, simple and enriching life.
    Congratulations to your noble family for the noble contribution to the society.
    Warm regards
    Col Satyapal Singh Sahrawat

  48. Brig Surinder Singh says:


    This piece opens up,a flood of memories of our ancestral home and its inhabitants.We have their genes in us and tend to emulate their simple lifestyle intuitively. Sometimes it does not appeal to others but that’s the way we are.

    In terms of achievement we are not a patch on our grandfather but then so few can rise to those heights.

    A document fit for preservation for a hundred years has been created by you……

    Well done!

  49. Prem Hejmadi says:

    It made me feel so sad that one had to partition a country and uproot a multitude to feed the whims of some greedy bunch of politicians. Life was so simple, full of love for others and a family bonhomie. Your walk into the past took me along too, for my in-laws too were uprooted, from Sialkot, and had many a proud and sad story on the tapestry of family history. Your grandfather was a visionary indeed. Thanks for sharing Surjit.

    • colls says:

      Ah and my dadi //grandmom
      was from Sialkot
      went there to meet her
      before she died
      in 1945
      in her mansion …intact then
      later what happened
      God may remember it
      now all is cindering history

  50. colls says:

    You help me recall our home
    5 the MALL IN MODEL TOWN Lahore
    we lost all
    and also my nani’s house in Lahore
    I forget the NAME
    where the LOO was 6 manzils high
    what in nickers did remain
    I remember and laugh
    again and again
    AGE then

    You make me proud
    when I told you
    HASN’T it now come true

    So many still read and love you
    AS much as my brother
    I you do
    DO YOU

    Forget me not
    I lived in ANARKALI
    ah what a land ’twas it
    of Beauty

    But a story teller does not live in me
    I am a stark poet
    full of admiration
    for those who read my

    earlier Kols
    01 Sep 2020

  51. A very sentimental journey down memory lane embellished with good and clear drawings and vintage photos to cherish.Thank you for sharing this gem.Life back then was so simple and contentment and family values were the hallmark of that culture..

  52. Lt. Col. Harindar Singh Bedi says:

    Dear Surjit, it is so heartening to see that you are keeping your family’s history and legacy alive. It was wonderful going through your article and to note what your ancestors achieved. Commendable indeed!

    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:

      Harindar ji,

      You manage to say a lot in your few words!


      • Tausif Akram says:


        I am Tausif Akram From Farooka ( Sargodha ) Punjab pakistan . my Birth place farooka . please visit Farooka ( Farooka High School 1906 to 2021 very good condition )

        i read your story.You are story writer in your fmily. Keeping all records and stories for next generations to read and remember.



  53. I belong to junagadh(Gujarat State) remember as 4 years
    Old girl, how we were sent to Bombay to be safe. My father, his uncle and other relatives stayed back. Later on we were told about intention of Bhutto, Mohamad Ali Zinah to capture junagadh.
    Enjoyed your detailed info about education, school opining in 1926 greate. I salute him. I am a retd col’s
    Wife. I under emotional, attachment as my great grandfather was state lawyer for last Nawab Muhobatakhan, who loved all Hindus, who was misguided by Bhutto and Mohamad Ali Zinah.

  54. DP Sabharwal says:

    It is always nice to know where you were born and spent initial years of your life; the formative years under the guidance of whole lot of family members that included Tayaji, Taijt, Chacha-chachi, dada-dadi (for those who were fortunate enough to see them) and many more. Yes the house used to be big enough though simple ones…
    Through this write-up I was taken yet again (I keep visiting in my thoughts every now and then) to my ancestral house which in 1970 was almost 100 years old.
    Good effort, Congratulations.

  55. GUNAMRIT KAUR says:

    Thankyou chacha for putting this in your way…and i almost imagine papa going to school and his life in Farooka…we have heard it so many times from him

  56. Dave Sood says:

    You are story writer in your fmily. Keeping all records and stories for next generations to read and remember.

    There are very few who keep such meticulous records. I am sure your family is proud of you for your efforts.

    Keep the story moving.

  57. Joseph Thomas says:

    Thanks Surjit for this story.

    A large number of coursemates had to leave behind their ancestral homes. It was obviously traumatic and many lives were lost. It is said to be the largest migration in history.

    Glad that the school which your grandfather founded is still going strong.

    I believe that your family founded a similar school in Ambala to replace the original that was lost to Partition. Do please write a few lines about the newer school.

Leave a Comment