I was born two generations after the fateful events of August 1947 in a land as far removed from mine as night and day. Yet there have been many instances when people have asked me about my own “personal Partition story”. The truth is I don’t have one. My story is the story of my grandparents and the many sets of grandparents whom I never met or knew. My earliest memory about the Partition was through my Nani. Lying in bed on a summery June evening I asked, as only a seven year old can, “Naniji, yeh tasveer kiski hai.” The picture I was referring to is of little significance but the story that followed is. That childhood conversation left in me an appetite, as yet unsatiated, about the unmaking and by all accounts making of my country. Over the course of the next few months leading up to India’s Independence Day, I’ll be listing the best works on the Partition of India and Pakistan.
From fiction and non-fiction to tv series and films, I’ll be covering all aspects of the rather large and often times skewed visual culture surrounding the event. I do so for many reasons. First, to capture on my thoughts, which tend to change drastically with every reading and in many cases rereading of the works mentioned, in some semblance of an organized manner would allow me greater objectivity or at least I hope it will. Second, with each passing year the significance of the event seems to be lost on a generation obsessed with learning English and playing video games. Soon, I fear, my grandparent’s stories will become just that “stories.” A wise man once said, “The answers to all our questions lie in our past.” The answers to our questions or dare I say it problems lie in our past. Let us not forget the cost at which we became independent and sovereign nations (I refer both to India and Pakistan, hence, the nations). I wonder, though, if it is possible to keep the past alive when the future ostensibly holds such bright promise. Nonetheless, as much of an old man this makes me, I’d like to keep my Nani’s words alive.
These reviews and lists are not intended as a marker of my allegiance to a particular national entity or political point of view rather they are means to capture a long gone moment and its significance. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing these posts.