Abbas Ali Shah

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I’m a Muslim, I live in this country, I came back to this country in 1961, been here ever since. Got married and I have 3 grown up children, they’re also married. I have 4 grand children they are all lovely, beautiful, and I’m a very happy man.

It’s absolutely wonderful, I really mean that its not just for this recording, that’s off the record or on the record or whatever, I am a very happy man. I’m very happy with what I’ve got and I’m very, very blessed.

The first memory of my father; a very kind man, and a very loving man and I’m very grateful that he gave me the chance to be born. My first ever memory, I mean, father used to teach in Pakistan and we used to, I used to go to the same school and we spent a lot of memorable and happy time together. We used to share the same bicycle going from our village to the next village where father used to teach English. And I used to be a pupil in that school, and I remember him being the most educated man in the whole village apart from his friend Mr Bhatti, he was the headmaster at this school where we used to go and father and him used to play chess together in Sargoda, a small village called Doungii. This would’ve been when I was, I would say about between…I spent time studying at the same school with my father from the age of about 8 till about 15.

I’m nearly 70, he was a very religious man a very devout Muslim, he used to pray, and he used to make us pray, which we didn’t like and then when he came to this country, and after many years of residing in this country he became a Baha’i, changed his religion, and Baha’is, I don’t know whether you know about the Baha’i religion, you can look it up on the internet, they don’t restrict themselves to one particular…they don’t categorise themselves…there’s only one religion, you can call it either Hindu or Buddhist or Islam or whatever, there’s only one god and one message and that’s what they believe in, and you must always seek the truth without any prejudice, without any preconditions. And that’s what he believed in, he didn’t care about whether you were African or whether you were English or whether you were Pathaan, or whether you were from the Far East the Middle East or anywhere even the Amazon!

My father was very, what can I say, he lived in this country for many, many years he had his own business then he left this country and then we followed him when we were very young, when I went to Pakistan I was only 2 and half years of age.

I was born in Birmingham, Selly Oak Hospital during the war, I was a war baby, 1944 and then my mother and my younger sister, my sister was only 6 months of age we migrated to Pakistan with my mother. I was 2, 2 and a half, it was 46 , 47 that’s when the partition happened and we travelled to Pakistan by ship because there never used to be non stop flights then, you used to have to go by ship.

That particular time the partition was happening all the killings and all the uproar and everything. Anyway, we went, this is the whole reason we went to live in Punjab with my father. So we travelled from England to Bombay and from Bombay to Punjab because my father came back to work and live in England and then I came to join him, the rest of my brothers and sisters and siblings and my mother were in Pakistan. And I came to my father by myself by aeroplane this time, and that was it, I came to London in the evening my father was there to greet me and my uncle and we came by train from Heathrow London to Snow Hill station now is it ok if I swear at these damn what do you call it planners? Who smashed that beautiful Snow hill station up, it was really really beautiful, same thing that they’ve done to the bloody library. The Library was beautiful, that was the icon and the heritage of this country! That was a beauty, a beauty of this country, all smashed it all up. I think the Germans did less damage to this country than what our city planners did.