It was like they show in the movies.
My Nana was dying and he asked my mother to sing. It was a Gujarati ghazal with religious overtones:
“Ali ni shaan chhe aali ane shaukat nirali chhe
Khuda chhe noor no jalwo, Ali jalwa ni laali chhe”
(The glory of Ali is sublime and magnificence unique
If God is the light that beams, then Ali is the lustre that emanates from it)
"Arre aa waqt no gulshan taiyon kon maali chhe
Khuda khud chhe jo parda maan, to jag no kon waali chhe"
If god chooses to be behind a veil then how do we know who watches over the world)
Ammi used to sit and wipe the blood that spewed out of his cancerous lungs. He was in his 50s. He smoked heavily and craved for it as he lay at the Tata Memorial Hospital. In the general ward.
I am mentioning this specifically because I hear it said that all Aga Khanis stayed back in India to protect their wealth and loot the Hindus who were thrown out of Pakistan.
The story of my family is different. They were not always in dire straits. It happened later much after Partition when Nana lost most of his money to a relative. Cigarettes gave way to beedis. He started pacing about the room at nights quoting from Shakespeare.
My mother was in her mid-teens. She tells me how they would pretend to have a stomach ache if there were sudden visitors. My Nani would not let a guest go without food. Or the times there was little milk and she wanted to eat doodh khichdi; my Nani saw her in the kitchen mixing it with rice water and started crying. They hugged, she said.
No outsider ever got a whiff of this. When they went to meet their rich relatives, they wore the one or two sets of nice clothes. Nanima would dye them so they looked different each time, or add an old border from her dupatta to the edge of the dress for the daughters. The sons had to start working.
If they were protecting anything, it was their dignity.