On foot, one nation to another

1947, the Radcliffe Line was drafted across thousands of miles to beget the partition of India under the Indian Independence Act. The dissolution of the British Raj brought along with merry, the dislocation of 14 million people in the name of their religion. Almost 100,000 women were abducted and raped in the rioting and subsequently disowned by their own families in the name of honour. Beyond the pragmatism and the probable sagacity, I often find myself drowned in imagination, thinking of a nation without boundaries, the land that once was, the one that was called Hindustan.

Those faces of atrocities, shrieks of unfairness and the cloth of the unjust lust, don’t they call you?

Do you feel obligated to the hurting souls of the Muslims and Hindus, or perhaps the Hindus and Muslims that found themselves emancipated only upon jarring murders? Do you feel for those bloody tracks and coaches, torn pieces of dupattas, snatched possessions and petrified progenies lacking speeches with frozen brains? Seventy years into independence, am I supposed to feel lucky that I was born in a free India? In an India where the brutal times find their shrieks hidden in moulded words, with only a sad glimpse of the Hindustan that once was?

I have woken up to the aftermath of the Partition of India. This aftermath seems wet in the dearth of compassion which we all live by with hands on our chest singing our national anthem. Seeing Pakistan and India, and then Kashmir make me doubtful of the world. The exasperation that I currently observe amongst the political leaders, patriotic university enthusiasts, laymen and others concerning issues of social conservatism, greed and power, have me frantic. Riots are always round the corner, in India more popularly in the name of our lords. Tomorrow, any of the seeds of these issues can be forced into a full grown tree, a tree that might quench the thirst of its roots with the blood of those who never feared. Hence, let me protect my blood.

They never feared or doubted, their lives were full of hopes as they worked and lived. And somewhere between the hustle of the two religions and the related tolerances and intolerances, our people from the pre- independence era had their trust standing on a cliff, waiting to feel the direction of the wind. The wind blew and just imagine, a normal day with the choolas and chokkas and flowers and dastaavez. And they all run with nothing in their hands and all in their hearts. They all ran to a place far away from home where they expected their lords to be accepted.

For some who found it logically peculiar and felonious, there were many swords to kill and many men to molest. So yes, basically just imagine waking up, smelling tea in steel and then running, with or without family, to a new area or to death, for religion or for god, questionably and unanswered, just running. The atheists, who shrieked their disbelief and perhaps even disregard, towards the massacre in the name of almighty and religion, had their homes looted and bodies violated.

In what name did the Indian society think of itself to be established enough to draw divisions, when they could not even accept their own daughters after the fire settled? A raped daughter tore the family’s respect off in a circle where sons were open rapists, making their faith proud. With uneducated minds and shallow pedestals, the subcontinent was on fire.

Getting back to my fears, why do we think those trains of death cannot pass our rails now? A probable solace for fears lies in a silly imagination, seeing Hindustan coming together and alive. The country that was raped by the British and straight cut slaughtered by the partition. I yearn to know how it feels to have us all together. Hindustan was the parent of all its children, whether they wore sindoor or not, whether they believed in god or not. It is inexplicably hard to take in the thought of separation of people in the name of god. That too one that left bodies, souls, memories and opinions separated and confused.

I see them all, from down in the south to the west, east and north. I see them there too which was once ours. They’re all so similar; I am so similar, same backwardness and the pretentiousness towards progress. The analogy makes my urge inflate for the old Hindustan, a country that was one. If only, there was scope for lives than deaths, god than beliefs, that I would know how to be a true Hindustani.

Maanya Charu Kalra