Kids Corner

Photos: Saji Kaur Sahota


Beautiful Lives - I:
Chanan Kaur,
Refugee -
The Kaur Project








For me ‘Kaur’ literally means whatever God provides us. Coming from a place where everything is taken away, having no money, no direction, it is my belief, my faith in something bigger that helps me to overcome the heartaches and rejoice in the goodness.

I was eight, nearly nine, when the Partition of Punjab happened. I remember being in our home, where Pakistan is now, and hearing a bit of noise. The weeks and months beforehand there were problems, we heard rumblings, and would hide at the local gurdwara. Never did we think we would have to evacuate our homes and lives.

It happened all of a sudden, my older and younger brother and I were told to evacuate quickly. We could hear bullets and then a truck appeared from another village that was rounding up children. We barely got to say good bye to our parents. I remember thinking we were going to the city.

It was scary travelling by ourselves, I tried to be brave, but I cried all the way. The next morning we found our mom, dad, and mama ji at the camp that was set up. My dad didn’t make it to the next leg of the journey, he fell ill and died there. We were separated from our mother, we became estranged children. We had no money, no belongings and anything could have happened to us. I believe though, God was watching over us.

With the kindness of strangers, we were fed, given shoes, and they purchased us clean clothes. My younger brother and I were separated from our older brother for part of the journey. We cried and cried, and then near the train, which we were supposed to jump onto, we found him.

For some time, my older brother left us with some family, at a makeshift camp. The three of use then moved to our government mandated new home. We had bulls and cows and shelter, but it never felt like home. This is where I learned to make roti, it was horrible and raw, but we ate it. I would have the diva (oil lamp) on all night. I would go with the neighbour girls to this flea market to get free dishes that were chipped and slightly broken. That’s what we would use and I created a stockpile so I could show my mom when and if she returned.

I used to go to the highest point on the property and look for my mom because I could see far and wide. My eyes would get swollen from all the crying. Then one day, three months later, she appeared. She was never the same, she had a hard life, she lost children and her husband. She was constantly sick and I regret never sitting down with her to ask what she had endured in those months. She rarely left the house and wanted us to get married.

Before marriage my name was Bibo, it changed to Chanan after marriage. I was married at 15 years old and went to live with my in-laws at 17.

It has never even phased me that because I am a woman, I’ve had a hard journey. I have been playing the cards this life has dealt me. With my father passing away when I was young and my mother enduring her own suffering, I didn’t get the chance to have parental love.

These stories are now etched on my heart, they hardened me. I found the love I was looking for when I took Amrit, my heart softened, I was able to be delicate and discovered God gave me love. I realized I was given this life, because I could handle it, I am that tough. 

I was lucky to have a good husband and four great children. We were saved, my husband was a military man, he was injured and our plans to move to England were changed to go to Canada. We initially moved to Quesnel, British Columbia, for nine years to be close to my daughter and then slowly we transitioned to Surrey (BC). I’ve been uprooted so many times in my life, it just seems part of my journey. Canada has been good to us, we feel safe and this is our home. There is a sense of love and familiarity

[Courtesy: Saji Kaur Sahota & Jessie Kaur Lehail, The Kaur Project. Edited for]

February 17, 2017 

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 17, 2017, 2:31 PM.

"Wherever one's food is destined, there one eats it. O Nanak, this is the truth" [GGS:653]

2: Harinder Singh (Pune, India), February 17, 2017, 11:14 PM.

Life is a voyage, sometimes propelled by external by forces, sometimes by choice, to different cities and nations. We need to consider ourselves as carriers of the seed of life in the infinite universe we live in.

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Chanan Kaur,
Refugee -
The Kaur Project "

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