Most of us have grown up hearing stories of partition from our grandparents. Everyone has their own versions based on their experiences and memories but what remains common till date is the sacrifice that people made on both the sides. They had to leave everything behind and head for a new, rather alien, place with an uncertainty of the future. Some of them were not received with love and were called muzahirs. Famous urdu poet, Munnawar Rana has coined a shayari on this situation, “Muhazir hain magar hum, ek duniya chhod aaye hain. Tumhare paas jitana hai, hum utna chhod aaye hain.”
Violence is also an integral part of the partition. More than 14 million people moving across the newly formed borders, many didn’t reach their destinations. Trains loaded with dead corpses travelled from one side to another. But amidst this violence, there are stories of cooperation, help and mutual love while we got to hear during the third Taj Literature Festival last month in Agra. One of the sessions concentrated on the partition and Lady Kishwer Desai and Sathya Saran interacted with those who crossed over in 1947 from Pakistan to find a new home in Uttar Pradesh. Many of them still dream of going back once with hopes of living in their houses even it is for a day, to relive all the memories. An elderly woman who was only seven-year-old during the partition recalls how a Pakistani police official helped her family and others on a train to cross the border safely while risking his own life. Another gentleman told how his Muslim neighbours helped his family to hide for days and made their cross the border at an appropriate time. There were many of such stories which can bring tears to anyone’s eyes. Whenever war happens, nothing good comes out of it. Even after seven decades, India and Pakistan have not been able to come over that dreadful memory.
Sathya Saran, former editor Femina, very relevantly said when war happens it affects people deeply, some lose their lives, some lose their homes and some lose their hopes. Lady Kishwer Desai is working towards building a museum in Amritsar called The Partition Museum Project which will exhibit photographs, narratives, objects and a sound and light show which recall the memories of the partition. A permanent museum dedicated to the Partition of India in 1947 – to be called Yadgar-e-Taqseem or Memories of Partition – will be opened in Amritsar in early 2017, to coincide with the 70th year of India’s Independence. To relive the era the museum will also have theatre, music and songs of that period performed time to time. The museum will also help people study the partition of India in a more profound and unadulterated way. Desai also hopes that the museum will increase friendship in both the nations as they also will portray the modern scenario where people from across the borders are working together.
Text by Supriya Aggarwal
PS: THN was invited by the Organising Committee of the Taj Literature Festival.