My Memories of Lyallpur

Jatinder Sethi



Jatinder Sethi was born in Lyallpur, now Faislabad, in pre-Independence India. He finished his M.A. (English) from Delhi University in 1956, and went off to London to study Advertising in 1958. He passed his Membership Exam of The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (M.I.P.A) in1965, and joined Rallis India in Bombay. Later, for over 20 years, he worked for the advertising agency Ogilvy &amp\; Mather. Now retired, he helps his son in his ad agency in Delhi.

Editor's note: Another version of this article first appeared as TRIGGERS THAT SUDDENLY AWAKEN THE OLD, LONG FORGOTTEN, MEMORIES, which is available at

Move to Lyallpur

My father, Chaudhury Jai Ram Das Sethi, was the second of three brothers who were all born in Jhang, Pakistan. All the three brothers were practicing lawyers. My father was the only one to move out to Lyallpur (now Faislabad). It must be around 1909 when he moved to Lyallpur after his wedding. 

The oldest brother, Tayaji, Chaudhury Jinda Ram, and the youngest, Chaudhury Jagjiwan Ram, continued to live and practice at Jhang. These brothers also managed the huge agriculture land – almost 500 acres – that my family owned.

The Sethis were quite well-known in Jhang, especially, Tayaji's son, Harish Sethi and his wife (my Bhabi). Harish bhaji (we called our older brothers and cousins as bhaji) was a very successful lawyer in Jhang. His wife, a tall lady in her salwar kameez was the most modern woman in town. She had her own Tonga with a handsome horse, which she used to ride herself in the whole of Jhang. After Partition, they moved to Hissar.

His younger brother, Professor Vidya Sagar Sethi, was a Professor of Physics in Government College, Lyallpur. He was a frequent visitor to our house as he lived nearby. After Partition, he worked at the Government College, Ludhiana.

I think my mother (Biji) and father (Pitaji) were the favourites of all their relations. May be it had something to do with them being "Mod" and living in the new modern town of Lyallpur? Biji was also a good host.

Centre, my mother (Biji)\; behind, my father (Pitaji), and his brother.


My siblings and I - eight children - were all born before 1931 in Lyallpur. With not a whiff of family planning in those days, my parents produced eight children with almost an exact gap of two years between each child! And they sent each one - girls and boys - to study in school and college.

That was the unique thing about Lyallpur. Most of the settlers to this new township came from other older places like Jhang (my father's place),Sargodha (my mother's place) Multan, Shikarpur, etc., and were all educated, liberal, modern people. Like the new City of Lyallpur, which at that time was considered the most modern and planned township. And truly it was. I have no qualms in acknowledging the positive influence of British.

It is well documented that the architectural plan of the Lyallpur city and its famous eight bazaars was a replica of the Union Jack, as a tribute to the Queen of England. A rectangle containing a Cross and two Diagonals. All the eight bazaars started from the Ghanta Ghar (clock tower), which was the focal point of the town. Four of the eight bazaars were perpendicular, and you could see the full face of the Ghanta Ghar. The other four bazaars were diagonal to the Ghanta Ghar\; from these bazaars, you could only see the diagonal face of the tower. In fact, you could tell which bazaar you were in by looking at the angle of the tower. All the eight bazaars were inter-connected with the Gole Bazaar.

The names of the bazaars indicated the direction they led to. Katchery Bazaar led you to the courts. Jhang, Chiniot and Montgomery Bazaars led you to those destinations. Karkhana (workshop) Bazaar took you to all the factory areas. To go to the railway station, you had to take Rail Bazaar.

I am not quite certain where Aminpur and Bhawana Bazaars led to.

Aminpur Bazaar was the place where most of the stationary and bookshops were located. I remember we used to rush to sell our class books after the exam results were declared, and buy books of the new class. We were not allowed to buy new books, if there were good second-hand books available, which normally they were. Money was scarce then (it always has been). Moreover, these second-hand books had notes jotted down by the earlier owners, which were quite helpful. We used to sell our old books at the same time.

We always went to the same shop. It used to be on the corner of a lane, the right hand side of the road from Ghanta Ghar. I think it used to be the biggest bookshop on that road. Being a small town, the owners knew most of the regular children and their parents. More like family friends. Miss that personal touch now!

Bhawana bazaar was full of shops selling baans (बांस, bamboo) and other such material. If I remember correctly, it also led to the festival grounds where the annual Dassera festival used to take place. The annual Mandi Fair - farmers bringing cows, buffaloes, calves, wheat, etc. for sale - also took place here. It used to be a very popular affair.

The Primary Arya School was also located around there. Was it Douglaspura? I think so. Because that's where we used to go after having finished Kutchi (lower) class nursery school, and before going to the High School at Mai-Di-Jhuggi. All the Arya Samaj - my parents were Arya Samajis - annual functions also used to take place in this school building.

The other school was M.B. School, where the children of non-Arya Samaji families went. One of my childhood friends from that school Ravi belonged to the first batch of Cadets from the Dehradun Academy to join the Indian Navy of independent India. He retired as a Vice-Admiral. His father was also a lawyer, and lived in the first big house in the left side lane after Gole Bazaar, towards the courts. He was a tall man, and always wore a pagri and smoked a hookah.

Now, come to think of it, most of my father's friends had same age children as us. May be they all came to settle in Lyallpur at the same time, immediately after their marriage. Another friend was Dharam Malik. His family owned a cloth shop in Katchery Bazaar, near the Upkari Cycle shop. He became an architect, did his Landscape architecture from Harvard, and settled down in Toronto. Was Lyallpur the Eldorado of that time?

My family

I was the youngest of eight siblings - six brothers and two sisters. All born in Lyallpur. All studied in Arya School - both boys and girls. My oldest brother, now ninety-six years old, graduated from Government College, Lyallpur. Now, after his retirement, he looks after our agriculture land near Sonepat, (Haryana), which we got in lieu of the land my father lost in Pakistan.

I think I was just about four when my sister got married. But I vividly remember waiting for her baraat (marriage party) at the Gumati Fountain, at the end of Rail Bazaar, from where the Janji (groom's party) were to turn back into Rail Bazaar, and go to Janj Ghar (banquet hall,) where they were put up for the night. The Brass Band Bajas were there even then. They played film songs sung by Yamla Jatt, and about the Jagga dacoit of Lyallpur Jagga Jamya Lyalpur unthe. Jagga was a dreaded dacoit, who was born in Lyallpur, and was featured in a number of hit songs on those days.

My mother (Biji) and my father (Pitaji), with their children. 1934.

Front: Jatinder (6 years old) holding first child, Shashi, of his older sister, Prem Behnji (back left). Others at back: my mother, my sister Santosh, and my younger brother, Satinder.

My Nath bhaji, third oldest, also graduated (around1939) from Government College, Lyallpur. Since he was unable to find any job in Lyallpur, he went off to J J School of Arts, Bombay, to do a five-year course in Fine Arts. He used to have an Agfa Box Camera and did wonders with that. I still have a few pictures of the 1930s\; the youngest kid in them is me. Later on, he started his own Art Studio in Connaught Place, New Delhi, which was his office-cum residence. (This became our first refuge for some time after partition, before moving on to Lake Square, Patel Nagar and finally to Nizamuddin.) He was a pretty tall and handsome young man. Whenever he came to Lyallpur from Bombay during vacations, he always slept on the large white marble slab (I forget the Punjabi name for it) we had on the big terrace of second floor under the open sky.

Except for my eldest brother and eldest sister, who were married in Lyallpur and had arranged marriages, the rest of us eventually all had love marriages, with the blessings of our great mother. May be it (the love affairs) had to do something with our ancestral DNA connection with Heer, of Heer-Ranjha fame. Heer belonged to Jhang, and she, according to the fable, is supposed to have just disappeared into the land, while running away. Her Kuber (grave) is built on that spot. My father showed it to me, since it was on our land at Jhang. Whether the romance by Waris Shah is a fiction or not, they have now built a big mausoleum on her grave. One had to ride on horseback, from the bus stop at the roadside much before Meghiana, the city of Jhang, to go to our land. My father had once taken me with him when I was just a kid. And I never forgot the top-open grave of Heer.

Prem bhaji, the fourth oldest, never married. He did his MSc from the Agriculture College, Lyallpur, and joined the irrigation department near Lyallpur. He was, right from early days, more spiritually inclined than any of us.

During the annual functions of Arya Samaj, a line of Tongas, carrying various participating swamis used to go round the Lyallpur city, singing bhajans, playing harmonium, promoting the function. No Hindu-Muslim problem at that time!

One of the swamis, Swami Satya Nand ji Maharaj, had a big influence on Prem bhaji, who became Swamiji's chela (disciple). After Partition, Swamiji turned away from Arya Samaj, became a Ram Bhagat, and started Shri Ram Shernam in Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi. Prem bhaji, who was then working in the Central Water Power Commission, continued to be tied-up with Swamiji, who became very close to my parents and family. Many years later, when Swamiji passed away, Prem bhaji became the Maharaj of Shri Ram Shernam.

It was Prem bhaji who taught us swimming in the Chenab Canal, which ran near Lyallpur. My father, who was a very keen swimmer, also helped, if Prem bhaji was not there. To jump in the gushing waters of the canal from top of the lock bund was sheer joy.

Another thing Prem bhaji taught us was yoga. A well-known Bhappaji, who lived in one of the inside streets of Katchery Bazaar, used to conduct daily yoga exercises for large number of his followers. This was a huge, green lawn, bigger than a hockey field, with a well, past the Company Bagh, and near the Jail, I think. I think it belonged to Bhai Bal Mukandji, who was a very well-known person. Every morning all of us used to go and do all the asanas, right from Mauyar asan to Sarwang asan. Then we used to have a bath with the well water - even in winter. This place was about a mile or so away from our house, and I used to go on a cycle with Prem bhaji every morning, before going to school.

Ved, called Vedi by my mother, was the next one to graduate from Government College, Lyallpur. He found a job with Karam Chand Thapar, in Delhi, after partition. Later on, he went on to work for UNO and retired from there. Now he also lives in Delhi. All his children and grandchildren live abroad.

That leaves the younger three of us. While I was in school, my brother Satinder, finished his FSc from Government College, Lyallpur, and managed to get admission (with full scholarship) in the prestigious Maclagan Engineering College, Mughalpura, near Lahore. He was the youngest boy to ever get into that college.

One can gauge the kind of respect that college commanded from an incident he narrated to us. Once while traveling back to Lyallpur from Lahore for holidays, all the co-passengers in the rail compartment stood up to pay their respect, when they came to know that he is a student of Maclagan!

He had to leave that institution after the Partition. Luckily, later on he got into Roorkee, and went on to the Imperial College of Engineering, London. He retired from the Central Water Power Commission, and lives in Patpatganj, Delhi.

My other sister and I had luckily left Lyallpur before the serious riots started and tried to continue our studies. My sister, after doing social service at Kurukeshtra (started by Lady Mountbatten), got into Delhi University. She completed her MA in Social Sciences, and married a colleague from London School of Economics. Unfortunately, her husband, Sikander, a brilliant man, died young while he was the Director of Coromandel Fertilizers, Hyderabad. She brought up her three daughters all by herself, while teaching in a school in Delhi.

I finished my studies from Delhi University, and then wasted a little time, without a meaningful job. Like T S Eliot, part of my life was spent over cups of coffee in the India Coffee House, Jan Path, during the 1950s.While doing my MA from Delhi University, I met a contemporary in the University Coffee House\; she was doing her MA from Indraprastha College. We got married, and went off to London for further studies and work. She was a regular visitor to my mother before our wedding.

Our home and family life in Lyallpur

Our house was located in the Gole Bazaar between Katchery and Chiniot Bazaar. The first building on the left side as you entered the Gole Bazaar was the Meat Market run by the butchers, most of them known as Kanjars, who also ran the red-light area. Our house was the fourth house on the left side while going towards Chiniot Bazaar.

You had to climb three steep steps to enter the house, a two-story building. The house had a veranda that was about 20 feet long. The veranda had three doors. The door on the extreme left side opened into a drawing room, (the main entrance was from inside the hall) meant only for the family and friends. The other two doors opened up the big long room, which was my father's office. It was stacked with law books and "briefs" in big khaki envelops printed with his name: Chaudhury Jai Ram Das Sethi, B.A. LL.B. Pleader!

Besides a big table and chairs, for clients, it had a low divan on the extreme left corner for the munshi (scribe) to sit and write all the briefs. All court work was done in Urdu. There was also a room with a hand-pulled pankha (fan) on the ceiling, for which there was a special man to pull the cord.

My father always came home for lunch from the courts, as they were hardly ten minutes away. He would have his lunch meal in the veranda, where a table and two chairs were laid before his arrival. My mother would make fresh hot fluffy phulkas with lot of homemade butter melting on top of it. I vividly remember that, as a small kid and the youngest in the family, I always had bites of hot phulka soaked with butter, while my father enjoyed Gobi-ki-bhaji (cauliflower) with butter. Was always with butter. I picked up this indulgence as a small kid while looking at my father enjoying Gobi vegetable with butter. Some childhood habits, even silly, ones live with you forever. The family was vegetarian. Even onions were not allowed in the house.

In the evening, a table, few chairs and a charpoy (cot) was placed on the roadside, after the mashqui (person with a mashaq - a leather container for water) had watered the ground to cool the ground. This was the time for meeting the friends for a chat.

Unlike most of his friends, Pitaji never smoked a hookah or cigarette. He was a very gentle soul, modern, liberal, well read, and not all concerned with money. Frankly, I don't know how Biji, my mother ever ran the house. I had never ever seen my father asking money from his clients. Yet, he used to pack his hold-all, and go off to Kashmir every year when the courts closed for two months for summer. May be it was the job of the munshi to collect the fees.

My father was a civil (not criminal) lawyer. The civil cases of his upcountry, village clients went on and on. In the meanwhile, the clients stayed on in our house for weeks. Luckily, my mother didn't have to cook to feed them\; their food used to come from the tandoor run by a big woman, just three buildings away from our house. At night, these clients slept on cots, which we had kept for this purpose. In winter, they slept in the veranda.

Most of the residential houses on both side of the bazaar extended right up to the back lane. For instance, our house extended right up to the back lane, running parallel to the Gole Bazaar, next to the Jama Masjid. The main door was carved, and had two knockers. It opened to a small alcove.

On the left hand side, there was a staircase that took you to the first floor, which had a huge open L-shaped terrace, and two large rooms overlooking the bazaar. It also had a tatti (toilet) which was cleaned every day by a woman known as jamadarni or bhangan.

In those days, homes did not have WCs and flush system for bathrooms. In fact, nobody had even a washbasin for washing hands.

At the back of the terrace, there was another staircase, which led you the second floor, where Nath bhaji used to sleep in summer. Another staircase went down to the veranda on the Gole Bazaar side.

After entering the house from the main gate on the galli-side, the left side took you to the main living quarters. There was huge open courtyard, with a big long marble platform along the wall facing the Jama Masjid lane. On the extreme left corner, there was a tandoor for making tandoori-rotis. On the right hand corner of the slab was a Hamam (with a bucket underneath) for washing hands with Lifebuoy soap.

Next to the tandoor, there was a large arch type opening, without any gate, that took you down two steps to a very big barn, which held our three buffalos, and a cow with a newly born calf. Here was another room inside the barn for keeping hay, oil-seeds, etc. for feeding the animals. A Gujjar would come every morning to milk the cow and the buffalos. Buckets full of milk every morning!

As a kid, I sometimes used to milk the cow myself, after the back legs were tied by the Gujjar, and at the same time drink the milk directly from the full udders. Satinder or I used to prepare feed and feed the cattle, if there was no servant, which was the case quite often!

The barn had a separate entrance from the galli, where the cattle were tied during the day, close to the main door to the house.

Beside two big bedrooms, there was a small room next to the courtyard. This was like a bank vault. All the winter stuff, like quilts, blankets, woollen clothes and kangris (firepots used to keep warm) were kept there. Perhaps some valuable also as it was always kept locked.


On the left hand side of the courtyard, when you entered the house, there was a long, but not very wide, bathroom. Next to it was my mother's kitchen, about 15 feet by 15 feet. There was no door to it. The double chulha (cookstove) was very common in those days - there were no electric or gas cooking ranges. The fuel was dried-up cow dung and wood, which was plentiful.

Churning the butter and making lassi was daily morning affair, as we had plenty of milk. My mother had a big Medhani just outside the kitchen for this purpose.

After finishing her early bath, my mother would read her Gutka (small book) of Japji Sahib, before doing all the other work. After taking the butter and lassi out, what was left in the cloth strainer was called poen, which made a very tasty dish.

On school days, Biji would make salted parathas, with lot of white butter, and a big steel glass full of thick lassi (what was then known as Adherica or Matha) for us .We always had all our meals in the kitchen. There were no tables and chairs, but only small low chowkis (stools), on which we sat. Biji kept making chapattis, and serving each one of us with garma-garam (piping hot) phulkas. In winter, it used to be tandoori parantha instead phulkas. I don't think our family as a whole ever sat together for meals or chitchat. Maybe I don't remember, being a kid. My elder sister with her two children would often come from Sargodha, and would help Biji.

Biji, used to do all the housework herself, as there were no help, least not in our house. She used to wash the family clothes also. I think, by the time I became aware of things, I noticed that her fingers had almost doubled-up because of arthritis. Obviously, she had been working for almost 15 or more years, giving birth to eight children, bringing them up, sewing and knitting their clothes, cooking food, doing all other house work.

Yet, she never ever said a word of complaint .She still had a lot of time to keep my head in her lap and stroke my hair with love. She was a great favourite of her sister's children. She was a very liberal big-hearted lady.

"This lady who gave birth to a son like Premji Maharaj," so said Swami Satya Nand Ji. Just as I was the youngest and ladla (darling) of my family, my mother was similarly the youngest of her family. We were six brothers and two sisters\; my mother was the youngest of eight siblings - six sisters and two brothers. Her father was a Civil Surgeon, a prestigious occupation. Her older brother, who arranged her match with my father, was a well-known High Court criminal lawyer. It was said in Punjab that if you have murdered someone, just manage to reach Ahuja Sahib's kothi (her father's house) in Sargodha, and you will be saved.

I remember her father's house was very big bungalow with almost 20 rooms, and lawns as big as the football ground, with three convertible cars in the porch. He was a very close friend of the famous Sir Sikander Heyat Khan and Sir Firoze Khan Noon. I was hardly in 4th class when he passed away.

Biji's other brother became the Indian Trade Commissioner in Toronto, and, later Counsel-General in San Francisco, during the Second World War.

Her sisters were all married to big zamindars of Sargodha and Khushab. They had to leave everything behind in Pakistan, and resettled in Ambala after the Partition.

Biji's kitchen was the nerve centre of the house. From there, a corridor with rooms on both side connected to Pitaji's office, and the Gole Bazaar side veranda. One of the rooms on the right hand-side was used exclusively for storing jute sacks full of wheat and other produce, which used to come from our farmland in Jhang.

(One of our family's rules was that the first five sacks of new wheat must go to the Yatim-khanna (orphanage) of the Arya School, which was headed by the Head Master Shri Ram Lal Sapra, under whom we all studied.)

In the same room, there were three big Ali-Baba type murtban (ceramic jars). One jar contained meetha achaar (sweet pickles) of vegetables - gobi (cauliflower), gaajar (carrot) and shalgam (turnip). A great favourite of Nath bhaji and myself.

The second jar had Aam Ka Achaar (mango pickle with berries). The third jar had Gajar Ka Murabba (carrot jam).

It was an yearly routine of my mother to prepare what these jars held. She would also dry these winter vegetables for use in summer.

All that work, with crooked fingers, yet happy that her children enjoyed her food!

Moreover, Biji, being a regular Gurudwara goer, also used to be a volunteer for making tandoor roti on the Langar day, especially on Guru Nanak's birthday. On that day, we all used to go and eat lunch at the Langar, with hundreds of other people.

I believe she missed her Kar Sewa (voluntary service) only on the day I was born because that happened to be Guru Nanak's birthday that year. She continued to do her work, even after partition.

After Partition, she helped her sons and daughter to marry their own friends. No issues, no tantrums.

Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs

Our house actually was in a Muslim area though quite a few Hindus and Sikhs were also there. Our main door in the back galli was right opposite the Jama Masjid, next to the house of Hakim Sahib. All of us were sober, gentle and good friends. In fact, two brothers, also living next to the Masjid, were great pals of Nath and Prem Bhaji. Asherf, the elder one was in Government College, and Asgar, who became the head of the local library, was in the Agriculture College. These two colleges had great rivalry while playing hockey matches.

I still remember the slogan shouting during the match to boo the opponents. Government college boys would shout "Hul Panchal, Hai Hai" while the opponents taunted the life style of Government college team by shouting "Kanghi Shisha Hai Hai" (comb &amp\; mirror users).

I don't recall much of Khalsa College.

Asgar bhai once came to our home to show us his new nine-gear bicycle bought from Lahore. It was such a thrill to ride it. We never had that kind of money to buy such stuff. In fact, we didn't even own a radio, which some of our neighbours had. Big sets with lighted tubes inside -were they Pye or Marconi brands?

In our house, like many others, we used to fetch water for drinking from a Masjid. Just outside the Katchery Bazaar, before the Courts, you turn right along the small running canal, and come to a Maseet (Masjid, mosque), which had a well inside. And the water from there was not only crystal clear but icy cold. We used to take a Ghagar (big pot), fill up with water and store it in our home.

Further up the Maseet lived the Pandhis and Jhingans. All lawyer families - with children of our age. Pandhis were a tennis playing family, like the Vermas.

At that time, there was no Hindu and Muslim problem - not in my small world. If Jama Masjid was next to our house, so was the main Gurudwara, which was in the street just across the road (Katchery Bazaar) where my mother went every morning. That street had large houses, and, if I recollect, there were Verma Brothers - both lawyers, with children the same age as ours. Their house with big gate was on the left side of the lane, which continued to Rail Bazaar.

The lady of the house there was good friend of my mother. I don't know how far it is true, but our mother used to tell us about her that she used to wear a wristwatch even though she couldn't tell the time and had to ask others to check the time. Their house was just next to the big Gurudwara, which was a fully Hindu area.

Later on, our family took a refuge in their house for the night after the panic started on finding a murdered Hindu near the garden. First murder of a Hindu.

This gurudwara galli merged with Katchery bazaar, on one side and forked to Rail bazaar. At that junction, there was another big house with two big gates (shape of a horseshoe) and a stable for the Tonga. Belonged to another lawyer. My mother knew most of these residents -the regulars to Ladies Park and Gurudwara - and got together for happy or sad occasions of friends.

These two lanes - ours, on the left hand side of Katchery Bazaar (if you were coming from Ghanta Ghar) in the Jama Masjid lane, and the opposite Gurudwara lane of Verma brothers - got divided as Muslim and Hindu zones. And we were caught in the Muslim zone, when the real trouble started. My second sister and myself (kids at that time) used to get scared when the Muslim crowd from our lane shouted "Allah Hoo Akbar." And the Hindu reply echoed "Jo Bole, So Nihal".

That's the time our father dispatched my sister and me to Delhi. The rest of the family managed to get a police escort to drive them to airport, and flew out in the last over loaded plane that left Lyallpur. Prem bhaji just managed to get into a running plane. My older sister's family in Sargodha had problems in escaping to India, but they managed safely.

At that time, when we were in primary school, the Hindu Muslim problem was not acute because both Hindus and Muslims were united in the Independence Movement.

Imagine, in my Arya school, after the daily hawan, we sang Allama Iqbal's poem in the Assembly

Lub pay aaee hai Dua bun kay tamana meri,

zindgi shamaa ki soorat ho khudyah meri

dooor duniya ka mere dum say andhera ho jaaye

her Jagga mere chamkney say ujalla ho haay

ho mere dum say yunhi mere watan ki zeenat

jis terha phool say hoti hai chaman ki zeenat.

Is this the Allama Iqbal, who is supposed to have been called the father of Islamic State idea? How could there be Hindu Muslim riots? Arya School and Allama Iqbal! Can we dream of this One Brotherhood again? Doubts persist in my mind.

Iqbal's poem

Family life

During the Sawan month (rainy season), the whole family used to go for picnic at the Chenab (one of the five rivers of Punjab) canal, which was not very far. It was a beautiful place with huge trees, which shielded you from the hot sun, and which we used for putting up the jhoola.

We would take mangoes, milk, sugar salt, ice and our hand-cranked ice-cream making machine, since there were no readymade ice cream bricks. (We also used to get our biscuit made from the nearby bakery, which was located between the local Jama Masjid and the Ghanta Ghar. I remember my mother would give atta, sugar, ghee, milk, etc., which I would take to the bakery. I would sit in the bakery near the big oven and select the shapes of biscuit to be baked. The available shapes included playing card designs - hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades. I remember the fresh, hot, khasta (flaky) biscuits that came out.)

While we all went for the swim in the canal, the mangoes were left in a bucket full of water to cool them. It was great fun to jump from top of the lock-bund into the gushing water, again and again. After the swim, it used to be plenty of paranthas with pickle or mangoes. And, of course, fresh handmade ice cream. We would return home in the evening.

Having older brothers and sister added to few additional happy moments. My father used to celebrate the passing of exams of each child. (Eight of them!) The celebration (my granddaughter laughs at it) consisted of making Kutchi Lassi that was half milk and half water in a big tub, with lot of ice. Plus, lemonade bottles with bantas (a small round marble that acted like a cork) at the top, which we opened with our thumbs. There was a shop in Katchery Bazaar, just before Ghana Ghar, on the left side while going from Gole Bazaar, which used to have the hand-cranked bottle filling machines. It was the only shop I remember which used to sell lemonade, ice, and flavoured water.

Anyway, these celebrations were good fun celebrating a happy moment. My mother loved it, and would make kheer (rice pudding) or Halwa for the night meal.

I still can't recollect how these purchases were paid for. I never saw any money. But, obviously money was there, and people were paid (there was no barter with our land produce). Even the mochi (cobbler), who used to make shoes for all of us, never asked me for the money.

While entering the Katchery Bazaar from the courts, this mochi had his shop on the left hand side. We would go there, and give our foot measurement. He would make perfect fitting shoes. He was a family mochi, like the family barber. Handmade shoes were then a necessity and cheap, though there was a shoe shop next to cycle shop in Katchery Bazaar.

The world in those days was small, simple, uncomplicated and full of helpful souls in Lyallpur till the volcano of madness erupted. Along with that vanished, at least in urban areas, some good souls who were great help to the housewives there.

I recall the services of three most welcome and trusted ladies in Hindu homes, at least, in Lyallpur. One was the naian, the wife the family barber, who used to come home every morning to shave my father. The naian was the forerunner of the present so-called social networking sites, such as Facebook. She would carry messages from one home to other, offering various services. She was called upon by mothers to help in finding husbands for their daughters. Total secrecy was maintained by these naians, who were very trustworthy. Nain was an institution in Lyallpur, which has disappeared now.

The second lady was the panditain, (a Brahmin) who was as the wife/daughter of the Pandit. She would visit a number of homes in the morning, and collect rotis. My mother used to wait for her, and make special rotis every day. Like the naian, the panditain was useful (in combination with the naian) for organizing religious functions, such as mundan, thread ceremony, Naam-Karan (naming ceremony), etc.

Whereas these two ladies were regular daily visitors, the third one was required, perhaps, once in a year. I am referring to the old institution of daiee (mid-wife).There was one regular daiee who helped my mother in the childbirth of all her eight children. She became like a sister to my father, and we used to call her Bhua (father's sister).

That was Lyallpur. Lyallpur where we six brothers and two sisters were born.


The Sethi clan of Lyallpur and Jhang expanded in Independent India. Our children and grandchildren were born in Delhi, without the remorse or feelings of hatred towards other religions. In fact, in their own ways, some of the younger Sethis are trying to re-construct the bridges destroyed by hatred and distrust. For instance, Nath bhaji's youngest son, now in Seattle, married a Muslim girl from Pakistan. The daughter of my other brother, Satinder, married a Muslim boy in Delhi. Satinder's son married a Catholic girl. My sister's daughter (a graduate of JNU) married a Parsi colleague! Is that the left over effect of secular, modern Lyallpur in the family blood?

Our family has never been very expressive and big talkers, but that doesn't mean that the bonds of emotional affection were also missing. On the contrary, they were and are very strong but in a silent way. I, being the youngest, had affection, love and help from all the elders - not only in Lyallpur but even right up to today. I also had the good fortune to get advice from everybody in the family.

This post is my way to Salaam everyone in my family. As Bulle Shah says in one of his well-known songs, sung by famous Pakistani Sufi singer, Abida Parveen,

I am neither a Maulvi nor a pandit, nor do I run to the holy place.

Abida Parveen singing Bulle Shah


© Jatinder Sethi 2012

Editor's note: I approve all comments written by people. The purpose of approval is to prevent unwanted commetns, inserted by bots, which are really adverstiments for their products.


Rana Khalid Sahib. Your mail makes me feel that even after decades that we parted with each other in 1947.AND YET, it brings tears into our eyes. How sad that our two nations,cant live like brothers as we used to be. Thak you,sincerely,for your offer of help. o you ever visit Bhowana? Or have become a "Angrez?"

Its really heart-warming to hear about our place of birth,and all the changes taken place since then.I wonder if you can tell me if its its right--I remember there used to be a big sweet shop on the left bhand when you entered Bhawana Bazar from the Ghanta ghar?Must have closed down. Buying second hand school books for the new class was always an exp-erience. Thanks asif Bhai.Khuda- Hafiz.

I lived in Lyalpur 1943 to 1947 April we moved to Lahore in July 1947 we moved to Ludhiana

My God you have no idea how I have searched to find your e-mail address. Even wrote to APNA without success. I was born in Lyallpur in 1933. I have needless to say a lot of delicious memories of Lyallpur and a lot more details to add to your affectionate recap of our beloved Lyallpur. My father had a shop at the corner of Gole Bazar just next to Dr. Chaman Lal,s dispensary and next to Bhagar Ram Sawhney's office and home. His son Ravi was my friend. Our shop was just in Cooperative Bank building next to the vegetable stall and also a Mochi used to sit. I have some special feelings for Lat Photo where I forcibly attached myself to learn developing and printing and enlarging skill. I studied at the Convent School and then entered MB School for my 9th class. Master Avatar Singh was my Chemistry teacher. We lived in Walkila da mohalla next to Zail Ghar and shared a common wall with Pandi Wakil whose house was opposite the small 'Kasi' and a small bridge. Please give your e-mail address as I have a lot more grist to add to your most wonderful and nostalgic recant of Lyallpur. As a lout I knew every inch of Lyallpur and would be happy to supply you some missing bits, like for example Grand Hotel next to Ghanta Ghar who baked breads as well make us the most divine Cream Horns. The owner's wife was an English Doctor and had their Bungalow next to Coronation Library and near the Ladies arden. Jatinder Ji we may have played together. With much affection Sangat

Dear Sangat,Thanks to Subodh that even after years.I still keep getting Lyallpur wallas contact me and share old memories.You have certainl awaken more memories. Yes, Ravi was very close to me,even years later when he retired as Vice Admiral from the Navy, I used to meet him in Bombay where he lived in Collaba.One of his three daughters worked in the advertising agency I worked for over 20 years in Bombay. His Naval career got stuck because of his ship colliding while on duty. I also remember.his elder brother Om was class fellow of my brother Ved(now 92).I also recall Grand Hotel. What I used to like and watch was he Cutting slices of freshly cooked bread with a very nice Bread cutter on the table.Lat Photo,next to Aleem Painter was just opposite our House in the Gole Bazar. Now that you mentioned ,I remember the Vegitable walla and the Mochi.In fact my father used to get our shoes made from a Mochi who had a shop on the left hand the moment you entered Kechari Baqzar from the Court side. Pandhis were my brothers friend. In fact Gulshan used to meet my brother regularily in Delhi till few years back. There was another Vakil family Jhingans,next Pandhis.since you mention yourself as Lout,that reminds me another school friend GULU(son of a Vakil Shikarpuri) living next to house of Haqeekat(theo owned shoe shop befor Ghanta ghar. Gulu became a big BOSS in delhi after partition. I lost touch with him.My mother was a regular walker in the Ladies Garden with her friends and we used to go off to Company Bag. Great to hear from you.I will send this mail to my brothers,Ved and Satinder.

Dear JATINDER SETHI ,, i am from LYALLPUR, working as a field officer in LYALLPUR MUSUEM FAISALABAD. All i have read here take me to that period when you spent your days in Lallpur... i have recent photographs of GURDWARA and the District management with the help of LYALLPUR Museum Faisalabad is going to preserve the most valuable heritage of Lyallpur ,,, i would like to share with me your views regarding Gurdwara,,, my email:,, looking for your repl

Jatidar Sethi Sb, Thanks to share your sweet memories.please allow me to publish at my web page later I will publish it in my Urdu mag. Please contact me.

Sarwar,sorry for not replying earlier. I have no objection. But do give us a link for reading.

Your article made a fantastic reading. Are you known to Shri Harbanslal sethi. Who was possibly your father's first cousin. I am Rajeev Sethi Grand son of Shri Harbanslal Sethi. My id

Sorry Rajeev, for not replying to your mail . Sheer laziness. I will send you a part of our family tree that shows my father(his two brothers) plushis uncles.You look at that and then tell me the name of the fsther of Shri.Harbanslal ji My apologies for neglecting to reply

Re-read your memories today - along with the comments of Sardar Sangat Singh and others. Never been to Mandi Lailpur. You brought it to life. You are right about keeping old memories unsullied by changes. Yet, I felt, twenty years ago, an irresistible urge to visit an ancestral habitat. It was saddening. But the ghost had to be laid. Best wishes Joginder Anand

Dear sir i am from layalpur and graduated from university of agriculture, all the 8 bazar of the are still the same as u described in ur post i would love to know more about ur memories in layalpur currently named faisalabad. My email id is

After going through these comments I feel happ about brotherhood of hindu muslim brothers

Khalid Bhai,They say RAM kaho yaa RAHIM Sub ek Hai.So nice of have thoughts like yours .Khuda Hafiz.

Sir, it was indeed heart warming going thru your article. I've had the opportunity to visit Faisalabad twice last year at the invitation from a very fine and honorable gentleman Mr. Misba udin Zeghum of Sandals group of mills. Believe me the love and affections described by you are still intact there. The ghanta gharand 8 roads are intact. I stayed in Chinab club and visited all places described by you.

Have you heard of a Sikka family there

I had a swxchool mate and was Sikka. Now totally lost him and his memory. Sorry.

I am Deepak Kathuria from Mumbai. I am very much interested in knowing about how our ancestors came to India from Pakistan. My late father's name was Darshanlal Kathuria and my late grandfather's name was Jeondamal Kathuria. Please let me know if you know any Kathurias or history related to Kathurias in Pakistan. My ancestors had a cloth store near Ghanta Ghar in Lyallpur. Any information about this would be highly appreciated as I am really intrigued by our ancestral history in Pakistan

I just stumbled upon this while reading about Lyallpur. I am also a Kathuria living in Delhi and my paternal family is from Lyallpur and coincidentally they were also cloth merchants in Lyallpur. My father does recall a gentleman named Mr. Darshan Lal Kathuria being a distant relative but according to my father he had moved to Delhi after partition.

Even my family were cloth merchants

Deepak Subodh had passed this mail to me. I only remember that there used to be a Kathuria with me in the class in Arya School, but I am unable to recollect anything more about him. I am sorry to disappoint you . Pity is that all the other members of my family are no longer in this world,who could have been helpful. How old are you now? Wish you all the best. God Bless.keep in touch,

I live in Bagh, Jhang

Gul sher sahib I have now forgotten about Jhang and the place we lived, Thanks for contacting us,

My grandmother was also from Lyallpur and her family were a well known Vaid (Hakim) in Lyallpur. Her neighbors were also Sethi and when my grandfather moved to Mansurpur, UP to establish a sugarmill. Our neighbor in Mansurpur were from the same Sethi family fom Lyallpur. The uncle's name was Rajinder Sethi and he was a very quiet and dignified chemist. His younger brother was a prominet leader of Aryasamaj. I still keep in touch with them but just wondering if we are talking about the same Sethi family.

Arvind i am back with you. You mentioned your grandparentswho were Vaid, had a beautiful house just adhascent to our. There houise also,I think, opened inthe Jamamasjid street. Beautiful house with marble flooring.We were very close to them.

My dear Arvind,I am wondering how such an old write up of mine still gets noticed,and that too from people with close relationship. YES YOU ARE RIGHT. RAJINDER (Wade Bhaji ) was my eldest brotherwho worked in Sir Shadilal Sugar Mills at Mansurpur, And It was his place we all went after Partition. My brother that you mentioned about Arya Samaj was the follower of Swami Satyanand ji who later on set up SHRI RAM SHERNAM. And that brother of mine,Prem bhajio, became the head of Shri,RAM SHERNAM at Lajpatnagar,Delhi, after Swamiji passed away. I am the youngest of 6 brothers and two sisters. We used to live inGoal bazar,with a back door opening opposite JamaMasjid. I am now 85 year, and have one elder brother Satinder and mu sister Santosh surviving.And children of Rajinder Sethi, Do freshen my memory about about your family of Vaids. I will ask Sangat Singh about it too, You have I hope read"Lyallpur on their Mind" on indiaof thepast. Good to hear rfrom you

I recently lost my father. I was trying to find out about his Village Ranakee and came across this wonderful article and the memories this has brought to so many. My father Mr Basant Lal Sharma lived in a village called Ranakee. We listened to many stories prior to 1947, many humorous and other thoughtful memories. My Grandfathers name was Mr Natha Ram. He had 4 sons and 3 daughter. They had 2 shops and o think he was into ayrvedic medication and some astrology. I cant recall many details, but it would be great to find out where this village is and if anyone knows. My father often talked about working on dam (water). Not sure whether it was pakhra dam!

Dear Mr Sharma We went though your letter, but are sorry to say that I, at least,have not been to trace any reference about your father. I would love to hear some of the stories your father told about his place, Please do share with us. My email is Keep in touch please.

My grandfather g c kinra freedom fighter from gali wakilan wali opposite of shahney perivar home living there and he was wakil ,he was Mulan jail for freedom of India 14months, some sethi and vermani.sahaney perivar was there family friends ,one Sikh perivar name not known his wife English lady helped us during partition living there,my hand folding reguest for search of grandfather home and more memories if someone can help.i am also is contact with j n sethi sir he is really nice person and trying there best to help me,and there some friends also helping. So PL help

My grandfather g c kinra freedom fighter and wakil living opposite house of sahaney perivar in gali wakilan wali .PL help me to trace pic of his house

A remarkable collection of memories - anaxing how Mandi Lailpur generated so many people with love for the Mandi and all its residents, past and present. Perhaps you could organise a Mela there? Even though, Jatinder Ji will perhaps feel unable to undertake the journey. Unless, Unless, an old Dakota could be refurbished and flown from Safdarjang to Lailpur? Why not.

[size=medium][/size] I am Raj Chawla lives in Delhi. I am from Rohtak. My mother and father born in Kaim Bharwana, District Jhang. I am a Chartered Accountant, have my own business in share market. Recently my book--Investing Trading and speculation in India has been published by renowned publisher Prabhat Prakashan. Now I started writing a book- Spiritual Biography of a True Saint. The sain is Swami Gurcharan Das whose Guru was Baba Shiv Ram Das and Dada Guru was Baba Bramh Das. Baba Bramh Das had his Kutiya in Adhiwaal, kaim Bharwana. He was Avdhoot and wo punjabi me kehtey hai na Pahuchey huwey Fakeer. There are many stories I heard about HIM from my parents as well as from all the disciples of Swami Gurcharan Das ji. Swami Gurcharan Das ji also used to roam around from Haridwar to Laayalpur, District jhang and all the places as Fakir, saint. He used to give his discourses in Durga Temple in Lyalpur as I have been told by one of his disciple who came in contact with him from Layalpur Durga temple where he used to do service of laying Durries for the sangat. The disciple Mr. Gopal Das Ahuja completed his 100 years on 8th January, 2019. I want to know and have the details of the Durga temple in layalpur as well as Baba Bramh das ji Kutiya in Kaim Bharwana, if they are still there. Regards to you Sethi ji for the wonderful post. It has touched my heart. I read comments of Rana ji, asma and all others, they all are touching. I would look forward to your comments on my ph number is 9211548183 and my emiail id Regards to all Raj Chawla

Dear Shri Raj Chawla,Thanks a million for your very loving comment.And first of all let me wish you a very Happy New year! As far as Jhang is comcerned ,I just went there only couple of times with my father to meet all the uncles and visit our land which my fatyher used to go every 6 months.In fact,we were alloted two plots(near some cinema) in Rohtak as part of compensation in Pakistan. My elder brotherr sold those in1949 .We also got about 100 acre agriculture land near Sonepat which is looked after by my nephew. Surprising you mention your Swamiji Shri Gurcharan Dasji. We being Arya Samaji we used to follow Swami Satyanand ji Mahraj. My elder brother,Premji was his follower.And later on he became full time follower of Swami Satyanandji when He started SHRI RAM SHERNAM ASHRAM in Lajpat Nagar Delhi. After Swamiji passed away my brother Premji Maharaj became the Head of Shri Ram Shernam . If you ever visit Shri Ram Shernam at Lajpat Nagar you will see Photos of Premji. Premji,my elder brother hasd done his MA from Agriculture College Lyallpur. Now all my 5 elder brothers have passed away,and I am now ,Ramji Kripa, 88 and quite healthu. My elder sister lives in Singapore. ASs far Durga Temple is concerned,I am afraid ,I am unable to help. My regards to your family,and once again, thank you for your comment. I will try to contact you one of these days.I will check with my elder son and let you know.

Salam, i studied at Agricultural University Fsd (Lyallpur), this story was so moving. It drives me sad whenever i read or hear something like this !! Sufferings of ordinary people in that power grabing stunt which divided us !!!

i just come cross with this book my younger brother told me about that it was very intaresting sethi saab iwas born in lyallpure 1962 in dugglispura grow up there i rember all that places you mention in your book now i am settle in usa i love to chat with you

Dear Jatinder Sir Hat's off to you. You are soft and thorough gentleman. Love you sir! You wrote a marvelous piece of history, heart thumping and nail biting experiences of childhood really made me very excited and crazy.Though landscape have much changed but old city is mostly intact. I am living near Chenab canal , now a days only called Canal with beautiful expressway on both sides connected to Motorway's. My grand uncle Dr Afzal from Village 104 JB (JB: Jhang Branch) Harmoy- Near Khacheya Burnala Stop, on the road from Jumrha to Chiniot Road, used to study at MB School during 1940 and then he got his double PHD in 1960 from UK. He is stilling working with military established at Wah factory after retirement. My father got his I.Com degree from Khalsa Collegenow a days called Municipal Degree College. I got my super specialization degree in Endocrinology from same Royal College, UK in 2012 where my grand uncle got his in 1960. My grand uncle told me same stories as you shared. I can still feel your presence after reading your post. Katchehry Bazar would be different and special to me after your post. I visited Wakela Wali Gali and stores in front of your house for cloth shopping many times in my childhood. I was always wondering what kind of people were living here before partition. You answered my all questions.Laut Photo is still running and was my favourite in 1990s. I wish if you could pay us a visit at Lyalpur once more time and be my guest. People of Lyalpur still same soft and gentle. Stay blessed. Lots of love for you. Still my eyes are watery after reading your heart touching memoir. Regards Dr Muhammad Sohail Anjum Consultant Endocrinologist & Diabetologist? MRCP (UK) MRCP (London) FCPS CCST, SCE ENDOCRINOLOGY (UK), ICHMT (Ireland) Ex Ast Professor

Janab Dr.Sohail Anjum sahib before I manage to reply to your heart warming message ,almost after 8 years of its appearing on this site, I need to control the burst of my emotions in order to find words to say something. I am reminded of a couplet about such old memories of nights gone by" uj?le apn? y?do? ke ham?re saath rahne do na jaane kis gal? me? zindag? k? shaam ho jaa.e Although we all 6 brothers studies at Arya school,we had quite a few friends from MB school.I have a friend from MBSchool,may be little younger than your grand uncle,who has now retired as a Vice Admiral of Indian Navy. In fact after passing 10th class after partition he was the first Cadet to join the Indian Armed Services..Ravi Sawheny.The fir house while entering Wakillan walli gali from, Kacheri Bazaar was their house. Hios father,a Vakil like my father, used to sit there with his Huka.I think you should read my blog about Lyallpur which first appeared in "APNA"(Academy of Punjab in North America" TRIGGERS THAT SUDDENLY AWAKEN THE OLD, LONG FORGOTTEN, MEMORIES Ring Road of Delhi, Sawan-ka-Mahina & a Book Catapulted me back in 30s to my place of birth & youth LYALLPUR I was the youngest of 8 children(six brothers and two sisters. Now its only me and my sister in singapore whos 95 now. I can never forget the picnic with hot "mal puras'and lot of mangoes at the canal where I learnt the swimming from my father. Thanks for your invitation to visit my birth place,;INSHA ALLAH one day I might.I have photo of the outside of our house(with my brother on horse going for his marriage)which I could send you to give some idea of the outside of the from GOLE Bazaar side and Not from the Jama Masjid side. May be I may have met your grand uncle in 1960 in London,as we were in London(hampstead Heath) from 1958 to 1965.our elder son was born in hospital at Hampstead in 1959.Thats the part of my :"journey through Life".Thanks a million. Khuda Hafiz.

very vivid and precise description .was linked to this page while searching photographs of Prem ji Maharaj.A pleasant surprise. My father late Shri R.N .Khurana graduated from GOvt. college lyallpur before shifting to Delhi on Partition.He retired as senior officer from upsc.Had the opportunity ofmeeting Prem Ji Maharaj at bunglow road and shree Ram Sharnam All the best and regards C M khurana


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