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90-year-old Indian on cloud nine as she visits her Pakistan home. Watch video

Reviving her memories of childhood, she takes a tour in her ancestral house.

reena varma, 90 year old woman visits Pakistan, reena varma in Pakistan, ancestral house, indian expressPouring out her emotions, Varma is heard singing the 1982 song "Yeh galiyan yeh chaubara" with tweaked lyrics.

Ninety-year-old Reena Varma from India was overwhelmed with joy after reaching her ancestral home in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, 75 years after leaving the country during the Partition days. Varma received a rousing welcome accompanied by dhol beats. An exhilarated Varma also danced with some of the residents.

A video featuring the visit to her ancestral house ‘Prem Nivas’, on Prem Gali, has captured the netizens. Pouring out her emotions, Varma is heard singing the 1982 song “Yeh galiyan yeh chaubara” with tweaked lyrics. “Yeh galiyan yeh chaubara Yahan aana an hai doobara Ab hum toh bhaye pardesi Hamara yahan sab kuch hai,” (roughly translated as ‘Those lanes, these junctions, Come here again, Now I have become a foreigner, We have everything here’) she sings. Reviving her memories of childhood, she takes a tour in her ancestral house.

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Varma, who now lives in Pune, Maharashtra, was happy to find that the house, built by her father, has not been altered much. “My father made this house with much hard work and I am very happy that the house is mostly the same. It has changed only a little and those who are staying here are lovely,” Varma is heard speaking to media.

After her visa to Pakistan was rejected, social media came to her rescue. Early this year Hina Rabbani, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, granted her visa when her video for a visa appeal went viral on social media.

Varma had visited Lahore once when the governments of India and Pakistan granted permission to cricket fans from both countries to watch Test matches. However, after the wars in 1965 and 1971, she could not go back to her ancestral house.

Reena Varma’s daughter Sonali Khullar had told indianexpress.com that it was in the last four to five years that he was more determined to visit her parental home. “They were a family of eight, with six siblings. My mother moved to Solan during Partition and her mother hoped that they would go back, which never did happen. At the time, her elder brother was in the Army and the family moved with him on his postings. After my mother lost her last sibling, she started to reminisce about her home, her family and her childhood. She had started to recall the minutest of details — the number of rooms in the house, the names of her neighbours there,” she said.

During the Covid-induced lockdown days, Varma started learning how to use social media and stumbled upon an open group called Punjab Heritage on Facebook. The group, founded by Pakistani citizen Imran William along with Zihar, aims to unite people of Punjab from both the countries.

Varma shared her old photographs captured during her times in Rawalpindi, Murre and Lahore in the group. Several people started connecting with her and asked her to pay a visit. Rawalpindi-based journalist Sajjad Haider spotted her ancestral house and sent her the photographs. After finding the house with the same board as decades ago, Varma deeply yearned to visit her house.


The family applied for the visa earlier this March along with sponsorship letters from her distant relative living in Chakwal, in Pakistan and friends across the border. However, the Pakistan embassy rejected it.

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“I asked my mother not to be disheartened by the outcome, but all she said was, ‘It is alright that they rejected it but I am visiting for sure.’ She relayed her wish to her friends in Pakistan. Another journalist, Beenish Siddiqa, who had been writing about her, suggested that she make a video for a visa appeal. She tweeted the video and soon it reached Pakistan minister Hina Rabbani Khar who then tweeted that they will grant her the visa. The next morning, I got the call for the same,” Khullar said.

First published on: 21-07-2022 at 04:10:54 pm
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