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Reuniting friends separated by Partition

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Jeweller Raja Habib.Photo: S. Subramanium
Jeweller Raja Habib.Photo: S. Subramanium

There was once a two-year-old boy who lived in Lahore. His grandfather's best friend was a Hindu named Sharma who was forced to leave the country following Partition. However, the boy continued to see a lot of Mr. Sharma as he continued to visit them. But the passage of time saw the boy's grandfather die and the visits from Mr. Sharma became less frequent and soon he was lost to the boy and his family.

Several decades later, it is a windy day in Delhi and the little boy is now an old man with a jewellery business on a visit to India for the “Lifestyle Pakistan” exhibition at Pragati Maidan which concluded here over the weekend. There is one customer that the man talks to more than he usually does. The customer says her name is Sharma. The man jokes about his grandfather's old friend. Interested, the customer keeps up the conversation and the talk moves onto to other people in the family with the strangest outcome.

“My God, she happened to be the great-grand daughter of my grandfather's old friend Mr. Sharma, can you imagine that!” says Raja Habib, gracefully extending his visiting card which has his name etched with gold letters. An invitation to dinner followed that conversation. “Her grandmother is still alive, she was in a wheelchair and we had the most fascinating conversation ever,” he says.

Raja Habib feels that the people in Delhi are the same as his people in Lahore. “I have proof. The jewellery that we design in Lahore is different from what we sell in other cities like Karachi and Islamabad. When I came to Delhi, I started observing women's jewels and they looked so much like those gems we sell back home in Lahore…and the most fascinating thing is that all our jewellery from Lahore is selling like hot cakes with the other city jewels getting no attention.”

“I came to Delhi around eight years ago and now everything is so different, the city is cleaner and people are more affluent. My favourite part of the city still remains Connaught Place,” he adds.

The jeweller has one last thing to say about Delhi. “People have bigger hearts these days. They are quick to forgive and try to be nice.”


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