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Saturday, February 8, 2014

INDEPENDENCE, FLOODS AND ONIONS

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehari
Onions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


You must be thinking what is the connection between Independence, floods and onions, but my mind is still  fresh with the memories of floods in Ferozepore and the routine of crushing onions everyday to extract juice.We had to take a spoonful of onion juice every morning because it is considered to be very effective antidote for cholera.

Just after India got independence from British rule our family migrated to Ferozepore situated on Satluj river bank on eastern side of Indo Pak border. We had hardly settled down in the Army barrack allotted to us, when River Satluj flooded the low lying areas of the town. It was feared that floods might cause the outbreak of cholera in the population.

We landed in Ferozepur after crossing river Satluj from Lahore on 31st August 1947. We had not even properly settled down in the Army barrack allotted to my eldest brother, who was serving in the Indian Army at that time, when the river Satluj flooded the entire town of Ferozepore. The people living in low lying areas of the town had to leave their homes and go to safer areas.We were lucky to be spared the trouble because that particular barrack was on a higher ground.

My brother Satpal and myself had great fun discovering our new neighborhood and watching the advancing waters to splash it around. The flood waters stopped advancing just short of our barrack. We were strictly forbidden to go and see the advancing flood waters by our mother, whom we reverentially called Beji, but we would stealthily slip away on one pretext or the other to watch such a vast expanse of water.

We had migrated to this place from Vihari town in Pakistan which was a notified area at that time but nowadays is a big and flourishing city. It was a semi arid area irrigated by canal from Suleimanki headworks.

There was total chaos and confusion amid rumors that epidemic had claimed many lives The patients were being referred to hospitals in the nearby cities Moga Abohar and Faridkot etc.A few families which were accommodated in the barrack brought the news that the flood waters were advancing towards nearby Ferozepore- Moga road. This news was very worrying for our parents who forbade us to go there.

After a few days the joint efforts by Army and civil administration to plug the breach in the river embankment bore the fruit and the water level started receding. Our eldest brother who had opted for India got his permanent posting to Ambala Cantt. and our family moved from there to Ambala Cantt. Although our mother was very happy to shift from that place but we were very sad that we had to leave and will not be able to have the pleasure of playing with ripples of water.


---daman
08/02/2014   
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