See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.
My great-grandfather, after getting fed up with high handedness of the British rulers of India, took refuge in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (here-after called state) from Qila Sobha Singh, District Sialkot [in the Punjab province of Pakistan and very close to Jammu — ZA]. His father and grand father were Zamindars (land owner/cultivators). The Maharaja, based on background of the family, granted him provisional citizenship of the state. He purchased a house in Jammu Tawi (the winter capital of the state) and settled there. All land in Punjab having been forcibly acquired by the British and Sikh rulers without any compensation, he had to start from the beginning. So, he had hard time in getting established again.
My grandfather shifted to south India and started business in Madras, Bombay and Hyderabad state. Luck favoured him and he became an international merchant. He used to visit countries in southern Europe, northern Africa and Far East. He had not attended any conventional school due to bad days of his father but learned to speak seven languages including three major languages, Arabic, English and Chinese. He purchased and built property in Jammu and came to be known as the richest Muslim of Jammu. He was granted First Class Citizenship of the state which was a rare favour to an outsider.
My grandfather first had two daughters, then one son (Abdul Ghafur), my father, born on Thursday, September 17, 1908 at Breli, India. One daughter had no children. Her husband died in Egypt in 1946 when she was in Jammu to visit her parents. Thereafter, she lived with us. My father married daughter (Noor Fatima)1 of his maternal uncle Haji Allah Ditt on Saturday, March 29, 1930. In early 1930’s, again clashing with the British rulers of India, my father shifted to Egypt where his father-in-law was already living. Soon he shifted to Palestine and established his business there.
My eldest sister was born at Cairo, Egypt and the next at Jabalpur, South India. Then, I was born on Friday, the 6th August, 1937 at Jammu Tawi. My grandfather was so happy that he celebrated my birth with great fervor and gifted gold necklaces to his two daughters and all the nieces.
I was still an infant when I started having fever and losing weight. After couple of months an abscess was diagnosed at junction of right leg with body. That was operated upon to remove puss etc then the cut was not getting jointed. All efforts failed and there remained no hope of my survival except by prayers. As a last effort, the surgeon applied hot steel rod. Allah, Soobhanohoo Ta’ala, granted me second life.
Next in this series here.
1 My maternal grandfather, Haji Allah Ditt, had established his business in Cairo, Egypt and was living there. He had no children from his first wife. Having waited for many years, he married an Egyptian lady of Turkish descent named Husna from whom he had 4 daughters and 3 sons, all born at Cairo, Egypt. My mother, Noor Fatima, was born on Sunday, March 01, 1914, then Khala [Aunt] Insaf (my mother-in-law) in 1916. My maternal grandmother died in 1946 at Cairo.