As for the village population; that could broadly be categorized into two types. One local people i.e. those who had been living there before the partition. The others had migrated from India after the partition. They had everything in common, save a slight difference in their accent, and it was nothing more than a nuance. The migrant’s accent was polished and refined, whereas the locals’ was somewhat rustic and rough.
People belonged to all castes, but no one was an outcast. Surprisingly, the caste system or biradri-izm was not that predominant in our village. People peacefully co-existed with one another regardless of their caste or creed. There was even a small community of Christians living in the village. They were regarded as an inseparable part of the village population. No untoward incident of the inter-faith clash had ever taken place in the village. There was complete harmony among the people. They respected each other’s rights. The common village infightings and litigations were nowhere in my village. Absolute peace was the order of the day. Indeed those were the days!
The majority of the people were involved in tillage and dairy farming. They had small land holdings comprising merely a few acres. But, they had no lust for wealth then. They were quite contented with their lives. Their lifestyle was very simple and natural; unmarred by the artificial glamour of the city life. Ostentation and showiness had not crept into their lives till then.
The traditional village zamindar (brutishly cruel, morally debauched, and corrupt to the core) as we frequently find in our movies and TV dramas, was nowhere to be found in the village, not even in the adjoining villages. Such like zamindars might be existent in the other parts of the country, say southern Punjab or interior Sindh, but not in our village.
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There were two mosques in the village. They were quite small in their size with limited capacity. But the attendance of the faithful normally used to be very thin throughout the year, save for one month i.e. the holy month of Ramadan when the faithful thronged the mosques. Particularly at the time of Iftar (when the fast is broken), both the mosques used to be jam-packed with the momneen (faithful).
The motive was not only to offer the prayer but also to delight themselves with the varieties of food items (homemade beverages, fruit, cooked rice, and what not). The elders would get everything they could lay their hands on. They were good eaters and loved to eat at others’ expense.
Acchu Butt-the greedy glutton was the most prominent among them. Hardly had he ever stepped into the mosque during the full eleven months of the year. Even during the one month of Ramadan, he was rarely to be seen offering prayer other than the Mugrab (evening) prayer. And Mugrab prayer he did never miss during the whole month of fasting. Because it was preceded by a scrummy iftar party where he would assume the role of self-appointed server. And he used to serve the eatables quite happily but……..to himself. He would never tolerate the children participating in those iftar dinners. He would always employ bullyboy tactics to drive them out of the mosque so as to save as much undistributed foodstuff as possible. The food so spared was savored hours afterward till the time of the next prayer i.e. Eesha (night prayer).
At times, I too would sneak an opportunity to break my fast in the mosque to partake in the common iftar party. But such occasions were very few in number. Normally, I used to break my fast at home with my family. We used to have good iftar arrangements at home. Our normal iftar menu included lemonade (sikanjbeen), Roohafza Sharbat, fruit, dates, etc. Diet was quite simple then but it was highly rich in nutrition. Samosas and pakoras (salty local delicacies) were amongst the luxuries and we had them literally once in a blue moon. But those were the days!