It was a time of hope and fear - a new country had appeared on the map of the world amidst an epic trans-border migration of refugees. Hindus and Sikhs, who had lived for generations in areas that were now part of Pakistan, were moving to India, while Muslims from India were heading for a home as promised to them by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Hindu extremists were unhappy as their exploitation and domination of the Mussalman minority had ended with the creation of an independent and sovereign Muslim State. It was this rancour that led them to perpetrate the first acts of violence against the Muslims, turning streets into slaughter houses. Lahore generally remained calm despite increasingly disturbing news of Hindu and Sikh atrocities against men, women and children. There was talk of vengeance, but emotions were kept in check. Then Lahoris received a grim message from the Muslim women of Amritsar - a 'gift of bangles. It is said that the same evening, the Hindu locality of Shah Alami Darwaza was attacked and razed to the ground. The dam had been breached and there was no stopping now, as vengeance was wreaked on an unprecedented scale. But amidst the flames and the gore there were stories of selfless courage that will be remembered for posterity. Dr Shantilal and his compounder Balkishen lived inside Mori Gate next to a row of houses owned by a highly respected Muslim family. The good doctor had been gifted with the healing touch and used it to provide succour to the sick and needy free of cost. Balkishen was no less, as he was always ready to dole out free medicines to those who could not pay for them. As the killing and burning began, news reached the Muslim family that a mob intended to kill Shantilal and Balkishen along with their families, a day later. A message was immediately sent to the intended victims warning them of impending danger and requesting them to relocate to the Muslim familys house undercover of the night. An enraged mob gathered in front of the house where the two families had taken refuge, demanding that they be handed over. A hush fell on the crowd as the main door of the house opened to reveal a tall turbaned figure. Shantilal and Balkishen have been given refuge in this house, a commanding voice boomed, and anyone with a notion to harm them or their families will do so over my dead body. The crowd began fidgeting and thinning out till there was no one left. In another selfless act, the top floors of the houses of both Hindu gentlemen were sealed along with their belongings by the Muslim family. Later, the properties were handed over to the government for disposal completely intact. The houses of the Hindu doctor and his compounder had one more role to play in the story. The Muslim family that had saved the life of Shantilal and Balkishen set up a transit camp for Muslim refugees and survivors from India in the ground floor of the houses. These unfortunate individuals were picked up from the railway station and cared for by volunteers from the locality, till they could find a permanent home elsewhere. In another part of the old city, there lived a handsome and eligible young man with a passion for wrestling. The pehelwan was feared and looked upon with awe by all and sundry. As the killing and burning began, his men found a young woman hiding in the cellar of a house that had been attacked by the mob. On being dragged before the pehelwan, the trembling girl looked up and said: In the name of your Prophet, do not kill me. In total silence, the man raised the victim to her feet and covering her head with a cloth said: I cannot kill you now in deference to the name that you invoked. You will be given safe passage to wherever you want to go. If you have lost everything and have nowhere else to go, then do me the honour of marrying me. People say that the happy couple lived long and prospered, with many children and grand children. This then was the true spirit of the great city of Lahore - brutal when honour demanded it, yet soft and compassionate when called upon to be so. The writer is a freelance columnist.