I was watching television on Saturday 23rd November , on Aaj Tak channel a documentary of Indo-Pak war of 1971 was shown which reminded me of my childhood memories.
During Indo-Pak war of 1971 I was just 7 years old studying in 1st standard at Adipur-Kachchh. At that time what is war and it consequence was not known but the first word of “ Blackout “ in relation to the war was heard during that period.
During that time we had no holidays in the school , but it was functioning normally and my parents even did not hesitated in sending me to school. Out school was in resident area which was walk able distance from my home and we used to go by foot as there was no system of children going through auto-rickshaw. A old lady named Kankuben use to take 4-5 children from their home to the school and we use to return with her, she was also working as peon in the same school. Trenches were excavated in the premises of school and we were provided with cotton buds by the school. On indication of some threat by whistles of home guard and siren we were taken to the trenches and asked to sit inside the trench with cotton buds inserted into our ears. We use to sit in the trenches till further indication of safety appeared through home guard whistles and siren. It was fun for us and we didn’t fear about anything.
During night time “ Blackout” was enforced and any light penetrating from our windows of house was restricted. We used to cover the glasses of windows by thick cardboard and any opening was closed by paper seals. In the normal cases bulbs of 100 watts were used and at that time tube lights were rare in the middle class family, but during war time 40 watts bulbs were fixed in the houses so that there are no changes of light going out of our houses.
There were very few vehicles in the town and which if required were moving without lights in night time, some people even feared smoking beedis or cigarettes in the open, my father was working as instructor in polytechnic college and was having little shop in which few bakery items were sold, he use to close the shop before sunsets.
How to pass the time at night till we sleep was matter of question, during that time a new chambers were constructed outside the row houses which was almost accommodated with people of the area chatting and discussion about the war, we use to watch number of home guards moving in the town for whole night and warning with whistles during the time of threat.
In our area our radio could catch “ Radio Pakistan” which was prohibited by law or otherwise which I don’t remember. Even though we tried to listen about the war from the side of Pakistan and the news was much aggravated as per the actual loss incurred by them.
During war many Pakistani soldiers were arrested as Prisoner of War and on All India Radio they used to speak to their families narrating their name and saying “ Khairat hai”. We use to listen on the radio and there was time slot for the POW to address to their family members. At that time there use to be license for keeping radios and annual charges were paid in post office and a license book was stamped for the renewal for one year. Radios were also equipped with antenna which was installed outside the windows or on roof.
This childhood memory of war always remained in my mind and where I got opportunity is tried to know about the war.
In 1983 I passed Diploma Civil Engineer and worked as Work Assistant on daily rated basis in Kandla Port trust , I was assigned the job in dredger which was working round the clock, the captain of the dredger was retired military man from Navi, during the night shift he use to narrate sometimes his experience of war.
In year 1984 I was appointed as civil engineer in water supply department , I was in charge of Banni area which is on Indo-Pak border. There was famous person Gulberg in Dhordo village and people use to call him Gulberg Dada, he also narrated the situation and some war stories and at that time there were no telephones and communication was made by chain of humans and transmitting message through voice to the far distance.
I pray god that nobody shall get the experience of war , but I had drafted the memories to be read by further generation , no my children may not be interested in hearing my old memories but when they grow mature they may like to read this.