OLD AIRPORT ROAD: At the panel discussion titled Pangs of Separation - Partition Tales, the question raised was: Why is patriotism so often accompanied by hostility?
Panelist Aanchal Malhotra spoke about material memory and how certain objects that refugees carried with them during the partition can evoke memories of the time. “Painful memories of the partition are like forgotten wounds that need to be prodded,” she said.
Malhotra’s seminal work, Remnants of a Separation, is an alternative history of the partition, a study into the objects refugees took with them when they left homes on either side of the border in 1947.
Pakistan-based author and educationist Anam Zakaria, who has worked with Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP), leading their Oral History Project and Exchange-for-Change Project in Lahore and Islamabad, had interesting anecdotes to share.
“I once asked a Pakistani woman if I could take her son to India for an interaction, and she flat out refused. But a few days later, she got in touch with me and consented. Turns out, her father, who moved to Pakistan during the partition, had said, ‘Why not? India is my home! You should send my grandson there.’ A lot of emotions and stories related to the period have been buried and forgotten. They need to be brought out,” she said.
Venkat Dhulipala, associate professor of History, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, spoke about Muhammed Ali Jinnah and the role he played in the partition. “The Muslim community itself is divided on its opinion on Jinnah. While some believe him to have been secular and against the idea of partition, others say his goal was to form an Islamic state at any cost,” he said.
“We need to remove the politics from the issue and focus on the people and the stories for peace to prevail between the nations,” said moderator Maya Mirchandani.