Separated for 61 years, brother dies days before meeting sister

March 10th, 2009 - 11:30 am ICT by IANS  

By Binoo Joshi
Poonch (Jammu and Kashmir), March 10 (IANS) He waited for his younger sister, who lives in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, literally till he breathed his last. The siblings were to meet after 61 years of separation, but it was not to be.

Hakim Din Khan, 80, and his sister Hakim Bee were separated after the partition of Jammu and Kashmir in 1948. Bee settled across the Line of Control (LoC), a de facto border that divides the state between India and Pakistan. Her brother continued to live here.

Khan, who worked as a gardener in an army unit in this frontier district of Jammu and Kashmir, was excited when Bee called him last month that she was coming to see him March 9.

Khan started preparing to receive her 70-year-old sister. He had planned a grand reception for her and got his three-room house whitewashed, said his relatives.

But that was never to be. Bee called her brother Sunday to discuss details of her visit. Soon after getting the call, Khan collapsed on the ground.

He was rushed to a hospital, where doctors said he had suffered a massive heart attack and declared him dead.

“My father was thrilled to hear that his sister would be finally coming to meet him. He loved his sister a lot and not a day would pass all these years when Abbu (Khan) would not talk of her,” Khan’s son Abbas, 40, told IANS.

“He used to impatiently count the days to the arrival of his sister,” Abbas said.

Khan had shared his excitement with his friends also.

“For the last two days he was discussing the menu of dishes to be prepared for his sister,” said Joginder Singh, an old friend and neighbour.

According to Abbas, Khan on the way to the hospital prayed that he may live “a little more to meet my sister, separated for 60 years”.

Khan was buried Sunday afternoon.

The sister didn’t know about the death of her brother.

“I don’t know how to face her and how to tell her this news,” said a sobbing Abbas. But he plans to receive his aunt who he has never seen.

(Binoo Joshi can be contacted at binoo.j@ians.in)

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