Nandlal hurriedly stuffed the two trunks with coins and jewellery.

Thirty years back, Fed up with poverty and hunger he’d left his village in Gujranwala for Lahore.

After several sleepless nights and countless petty jobs in the city, he managed to save enough money for starting a small business. Hardwork and sincerity led his enterprise to grow by leaps and bounds and soon he was counted amongst the best garment dealers of Lahore. He then married Snehlata, a Grihlakshmi in true sense.After her arrival, his long cherished dream of owning a comfortable house was realized too, when he bought this spacious, two storied house in the heart of Lahore.

Three beautiful children lit up the House.

Nandlal was a happy man with plans for expanding his business throughout the country.

Everything was perfect until that cursed night when Kishorilal came running to his house.

“They’ve set ablaze the Hindu shops in the market, and have warned the Hindus to leave.Lahore is no longer ours, Nandalal, we’ve to leave this place”

Kishorilal broke down while speaking.

Nandlal’s world came crashing down.He was aware of the violence bought in by the partition.But never thought it’ll touch their lives.

His entire life revolved around Lahore.His business,his house,his dreams everything is rooted here.

Where else would he go?

The residents of the neighborhood had hired two buses that’ll take them to Amritsar the following day. They’ll carry nothing except the bare essentials. But Nandlal wasn’t ready for it. Having invested his entire youth to be where he was, he couldn’t think of pushing his upcoming generations back into the well of penury. He asked Snehlata to leave along with the children while he himself decided to stay back.

He had a talk with an officer of the nearby police station and offered him a handsome amount for an escort by the police van upto the border. He planned to carry as much valuables as possible with him, in two trunks.

The whole night had passed, but the police didn’t arrive. The entire neighborhood was deserted. Nandlal felt vulnerable like never before. Little did he know that the van was suddenly summoned by a political leader. By morning, he carefully sneaked out and walked to the next lane where his old friend, Nazimuddin lived.His son worked in the Railways.

Nazim heard him sympathetically and managed to arrange for a place for him in the next Amritsar bound train through his son.

“But your trunks will not be allowed, Nandlal. The train will be overcrowded and they’ll have to disguise you as a staff member. Your money might cause trouble in case of any sudden attack. You’ll have to leave them behind”

A feeling of helplessness engulfed Nandlal.

This could be his last chance to unite with his family, yet that’ll cost him everything he had.

“Sometimes there is no happy choice, Nandlal, only one less grievous than the others”

He consoled himself as he braced himself for another struggle in life.

***

The above story is an entry into #TheChoice a Five00-6 entry.
Check out event guidelines here: https://artoonsinn.com/five00-6/

Check out Sukanya’s space here: https://artoonsinn.com/author/sukanya-sarma/

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Thanks for reading.

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