From Kashmir to Karachi

Of divided people and divided human emotions

Past Perfect

NIGHAT HAFIZ

I know the pain of saying goodbye
And losing a part of me in the wind
I know the gaping hole in my heart _
Which nothing can fill.
I know the meaning of final goodbye
And the unbridgeable gap between us.
All the tears and all the weeping
Cannot melt a heart that is frozen.     
                                                        T.P. Wong

Frozen are the hearts of all those who cash in on agony of separation between peoples of two countries divided by a thin line of partition. Pain is inflicted time and again on sufferers with happiness hybrid visits by dignitaries, hollow debates and discussions with shallow intentions to solve the main issue. Partition as I followed through the unlimited pearl strings from the eyes of my mother was followed by a train of events that tormented her. She in her heart, carried the pain of more than half a million people who perished, felt herself under naked sun while remembering other millions who became homeless. The divide gave birth to a peculiar style of life on her land, which expressed itself often with protests and unrest. At times it travelled to pass through phases of hopelessness, withdrawal and inactivity, giving authorities at top a feeling of relaxation but returning back with more strength and passion. Anxious protests when not taken care of properly tend to emerge with intensified rage and hatred. Unrest and aggression are ways to minimize pressure on hydraulic system of personality and refuse to subside for good until the source of frustration is eliminated. Denial in this case has become part of addiction making it difficult to understand that Peace cannot be achieved on ready to erupt volcanos.
I was born after partition in a family, divided between two countries by fate and choice. Sometimes I want to believe Kurt Horney’s idea that anxiety is transmitted through germplasm from an anxious mother to her off springs.  My pain of partition was perhaps handed over to me by my mother through the working sub units of my DNA; I could read heritable information and relate to it in the same way as my mother did. We had a tremendous eye contact to shed tears together on many occasions, on receiving half burnt censored letters from across the border, on weddings, at bereavement, on births and festivals, transcending pain.
After twenty odd years of separation it became possible for my mother to visit her brothers and sister in Pakistan. Earlier her brothers were refused a visit to Kashmir with an excuse of war like situation between the two countries, forcing them to go back from Delhi to Karachi with disappointment, frustration and agitation. The political situation worsened and ultimately resulted in 1965 war between the two hostile countries over a serene and calm piece of land. I remember 1965 war as war of words, sirens, gun battles and air strikes that ended in no fruitful political results. We prayed for artificial peace to return and false normalcy to prevail.  We had a definite preparatory set to visit Pakistan, the Eldorado that was painted vibrant in our imagination. If the wind is blowing in right direction, hardships melt. This time we had cross checked all the possibilities, left no detail to chance for visa to Pakistan, documents, photographs and a false letter showing a relative on death bed with his last wish to see us. Visas were issued with a guideline to cross the border by road from Hussainiwalla sector in Punjab. This was my first journey by train with no similarities to that of Khushwant Singh’s “Train to Pakistan. I always liked peregrination by road, connected to sensual mother earth was better than flying high over vast unknown skies. Boarding a Fokker Friendship aircraft from Srinagar would give me sleepless nights, with its peculiar character, passengers would pray and hold handles tightly while it bumped and dived over Peer Panchal range of mountains.
We reached Hussainiwala sector in wee hours. The scene that struck me most on border was friendly attitude shared by officers from enemy countries. We were cleared quickly and allowed to cross the border with a pleasant gesture.
Soon we were on the other side, in Ganda Singhwala village,   perhaps forgotten to erase the names while dividing people, Hussainiwala was left in India and GandaSinghwala in Pakistan.  A bus was waiting to take us to Qasoor, melody queen Noor Jahan’s sona shaher and then to Lahore where our relatives waited eagerly for us. Before boarding the bus my mother asked us to prostrate and kiss the land under our feet. My conditioned response was reluctant, but I obeyed her and kissed the land. It smelled and tasted the same as on the other side of the fence. We boarded the bus and my imagination pondered. I cherished to revisit my thought process with a jet speed and went in a reverie. I knew all about Lahore through books, magazines and newspapers that were stored in our home.  We had lot of material on situation, personalities and culture before and after partition, books on Islam, socialism, communism, poetry, history and literature. We had tremendous pressure to learn history, look for similarities and contrast and remember events and happenings. We were expected to read local papers and newspapers from Delhi as a routine. I remember rushing to the door to fetch the paper just to check the second page for latest movies and get a thrashing to concentrate on page first. We had lot of printed material available and no Kindle and Google to surf. Our parents made us understand how Rabinder Nath Tagore and Nazurul Islam were similar in their writings. How two countries suffered assassinations and martyrdom and who were Nathu Ram Godse and Saad Babrak.
Bus was inching forward and enthusiasm was gaining peak. Two ideas made my patience restless. Tramboos, the relatives who were eagerly waiting for us in Lahore, lived in a house in Anarkali that belonged to great persuasive leader Shahid-e-millat Khawja Liaquat Ali Khan and his beautiful wife Raana Liaquat Ali. It was believed that at some point of time the legendary leader lived in that house in which Tramboos lived now. For me it was living in history with an intricate raw thread of possibility for belongingness. I knew all about the great leader and his assassination. I had read about Raana Liaquat Ali Khan, a pioneering personality with modern face of women of Pakistan, her love anecdote that was tacked in her personality was amazingly unique. Sheila Irene Pat had met Liaquat Ali Khan during one of his lecture tours, married him and transformed herself completely to work for cause and survival of women of Pakistan. She was intelligent and stylish. Her persona had travelled in time from a Brahmin family to Christianity and then to Islam and Pakistan.
The second flash point for imagination was word Anarkali, the tomb and the market.  Fact or fiction, her tomb in Lahore was a testimony of her existence. I had lived in Mughal Era through Imtiyaz Ali Taj’s famous Urdu drama Anarkali.  Taj immortalized the bud of pomegranate and in return received life time recognition as the ace drama writer in Urdu literature. It was my dream come true to believe in fiction as fact by seeing the tomb of Anarkali.  Lahore, a city of tombs and monument fascinated me mysteriously and historically.
 We reached Lahore, worn out and exhausted but were stirred up quickly with joy, seeing people separated at partition. Life was buzzing with activity, sky was decorated with all colorful kites, warmth radiated from every corner, old and young kite runners were on the roof tops and roads, it was Basant in Lahore. 

Lastupdate on : Thu, 1 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 1 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 2 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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