On 3 June 1947, as British India descended into chaos, its division into two states was announced. For months the violence and civil unrest escalated. With millions of others, Marina Wheeler’s mother Dip Singh and her Sikh family were forced to flee their home in the Punjab, never to return. Through her mother’s memories, accounts from her Indian family and her own research in both India and Pakistan, she explores how the peoples of these new nations struggled to recover and rebuild their lives.
As an Anglo-Indian with roots in what is now Pakistan, Marina attempts to untangle some of these threads to make sense of her own mother’s experience, while weaving her family’s story into the broader, still highly contested, history of the region.
This is a story of loss and new beginnings, personal and political freedom. It follows Dip when she marries Marina’s English father and leaves India for good, to Berlin, then a divided city, and to Washington DC where the fight for civil rights embraced the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Lost Homestead touches on global themes that strongly resonate today: political change, religious extremism, migration, minorities, nationhood, identity and belonging. But above all it is about coming to terms with the past, and about the stories we choose to tell about ourselves.