A hundred years ago today a Sikh girl sent an emotional message to her soldiering father fighting in the Middle East.
More heartfelt than any Valentine message, her deeply moving postcard was one of the highlights of our 'Empire, Faith & War' exhibition where it was first exhibited in 2014.
This incredibly rare postcard penned in Punjabi in the Gurmukhi script is possibly the only surviving example of its kind. It speaks of the links between the home front and the war front, of the love of a daughter for her father, and of the social structures within a rural Punjabi family a century ago.
Postmarked 7 February 1916, it carries a poignant note from a daughter, Kishan Devi (that includes a message from her mother), to her soldiering father, Sepoy Sewa Singh of the 23rd Sikh Pioneers. He was then battling in the front line during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign as part of the Indian Expeditionary Force ‘E’ (as indicated by the large green ‘E’ on the reverse of the card). This is a translation of Kishan Devi's message:
One Creator-Preserver-Destroyer, known through the True Guru’s grace. This is Kishan De[v]i writing to you. Here all is well. Dear father best wishes to you. With God's grace your letter has arrived. We came to know your situation. With the sight of your letter, I felt at peace.
Dear father, mother says that you can write your innermost thoughts to us. I will read the letter. We do not rely on anyone else to read the letters. Father, all the letters from you will be read by me.
I do not fight with anyone. My heart is yours. You are my everything, and I worry about you. Without you I am like a living dead. I am unable to live like this, even though you give me a lot of assurance…
Mother bows to you and with hands clasped…
Dear father please take leave and come to meet us. Please do come! We repeat again and again. Reply to our letter soon.
Translation by Baljinder Singh & Sukhdeep Jodha