107 days back, someone very close to me lost his life in the most unexpected way. Days were tough, nights tougher. I was, and still am certain that my outlook towards life, people and relationships will never be the same. Everything changed and became horrible in a flash.
105 days later, I start reading the book ‘India After Gandhi’ which notes that history in India has stopped being written after midnight of 15th August, 1947 (Independence day). And for those who wrote biographies on Gandhi have their history till 30th January, 1948 (Gandhi’s assassination). So the writer tries to explore what happened next in the contemporary India. Still it starts with 1940s.
Migration of 10 million people – 150,000 brutal deaths. These are the official numbers that are recorded attributing to partition.
The above two incidents, separated by 7 decades are interestingly connected by Joseph Stalin. I heard this quote years ago, but suddenly it started making so much sense. “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic”.
While reading the book, I was reminded of an old photograph and a heated conversation that I had with my grandmother after this photograph was taken.
The first character in this picture is 8 years old Gurpreet, my elder cousin, and probably my first friend. Since his dad (my father’s elder brother) was moved by the preachings of Sikhism, he changed his religion from Hinduism when he was 23.
The tall guy in the middle is Abdul in his teenage. He used to assist his dad in a shop in our neighbourhood when he wasn’t playing with us. Two of his many other tacit duties were to pick me up from school every day and to bring my favorite ice cream so that I keep my mouth shut as much as possible.
The third one, in the green sweater is me after 6 years of coming into the world.
If you are used to Indian names, you would get that the 3 people here are from 3 different religions – worshipping 3 different forms of God, going to 3 different holy places, though celebrating all festivals together. And how bizarre this fact sounds to me while writing. These people cannot be different. These are still inseparable!
But I do remember my grandmom advising me to stay away from Abdul. When a child aged 6 is asked to stay away from his friend who never fails to bring smiles to him, he is bound to retaliate. When I couldn’t find any sense in what she said, she showed me a deep scar on her back and narrated the day when at the age of 14 she saw her parents being killed and how she managed to get on a train to India from Pakistan, bleeding by the knife attack. No matter how much I am sure that she’s completely wrong, still I think I have no idea what she went through.
But the reason for writing all this is that I need to know the other sides of the story. I am sure there would be 4 versions to this history of partition – the Indian government version, the Pakistani government version, the British Raj version and finally, the truth.
One version’s villain is the hero of another. But I am curious to know what the people of Pakistan and British think about there versions. I sincerely invite everyone who is reading this to tell me what/who according to them was the reason of so much violence and their views about the partition of India. Also what image do they have of Jinnah, Gandhi and Nehru.
I am refraining here to give my opinion because I need to listen and learn, rather than speak, for a change 🙂
He knew mutual funds are subject to market risks. After reading the offer documents carefully, he dropped the idea and invested in traditional fixed deposits only.
Interestingly the colourless and seemingly harmless spirit in the man on the driver’s seat gave no such warning.
Trusting, he invested his life. Market risks seemed greater than life risks.
“I would say that if there has to be just one Governor, it has to be him”, he said to the selectors, realizing the consequences of saying this. It was the position he wanted the most and had sacrificed a couple of other positions to be in this race. But he also wanted the best for the society and knew it was safest in the referred man’s hands.
Their friendship wasn’t instantaneous. Coming from opposite parts of a country that changes it’s language every 22km, probably nothing was common in them, except enemies. They hated the same people for the same reasons. Notably, one of them was in this room asking for suggestions for new Governors.
Each other’s genuineness was what had appealed to them when they first discussed their unhappiness about the state of events. But his ability to sense hypocrisy and identify wrong but politically correct people made him the most deserved one for the post. The man batting for him in that room knew that though he can work his ass off with complete honesty, there was diplomacy and a little cunningness that was needed to run the society and to beat it’s rivals. But he had no idea that his friend will be doing the same for him a few days later when he would be called. His reason would be that an honest sincerity is needed to compliment his soft skills and as he described himself – ‘too badass to give a fuck’, he needed someone to keep him going while what his whole body wanted was just a bottle of scotch and his speakers playing Les Misrables songs.
The person sitting behind the table spoke again, “if both of you are given the responsibility, will it be okay?”
*fast forward 2 weeks*
Batchmates, seniors, juniors congratulating them, some with happiness, some with jealousy. An unbreakable bond started to form from that day.
He opened his eyes
Saw around him the blood
Heard the cries and shrieks
Thanked God, he was scratch-less
It was dark, the date had changed
And so was the mood of birthday celebration
He wished he could help his wounded acquaintances
But he cared for his sleep more, always
He reminded himself of the time
When his girlfriend broke up with him
For the n-th time because sleep was his true love
He laughed off the thought as his canines shone in the lights dim
He picked himself up and realised
That he was as full of life as ever
He looked around to find someone like him
Crazy enough to be playing football at that hour
Disappointed, he thought of his mom
She wouldn’t be too happy he realized
Last time he met her, she had fainted
Of fasting for her son’s good job
While he was unable to control his laughter
His dad always wanted him to confess that he drinks
But he was too smart to do so
He pretended to be as ideal as his brother
While he lived life by being as badass as possible
Probably the thoughts of some of his brought back his smile
He was again the first to do something
And got a lot of boost to his ego
“Wo kehte hain na : Spotlight” – he lives that dialogue of his own play
He liked open-ended scripts
So it is unknown what he did next
Some said he stayed, watching and judging
Some said he started working on a new script
Some thought he left to meet his true love – peaceful sleep
They can’t be sure though
The scratch less body gave no clue
It is as easy as it is difficult to draw meanings from thoughts which intermingle to form a complex network.
A network that looks beautiful only when one fails to feel the never ending struggle of branches in pursuit of light.
The darkness of branches and their stems make the superficial view look bathed in vibrant colours.
However, looks like the sun is rising. Heard that its light travels many light years, it shouldn’t be long when it reaches under the confused canopy…