Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Radcliffe, The Line that Separates/unites Two Countries

Radcliffe Line that divides India and Pakistan will be 69 this August. Cyril  Radcliffe who drew the line had never visited India before he was assigned the monumental task. Thanks to the hot and humid weather of India that he left as soon his work got over, leaving the two countries living the paradox of loving and hating each other. At Wagah the paradox begins with the aggressive boot thumping by the soldiers and then shaking hands.

Lowering of the Flags ceremony is a daily custom at Wagah border. BSF, (the Border Security Force) of India and Pakistan Rangers of Pakistan present the spectacular show. Surprisingly I did not know the magnanimity of the show so, Wagah border was never in my bucket list, the Golden Temple was. But the parade and ambiance of the place made me see it as a Kumbh mela where collective faith of masses is at its peak. I had never imagined such devotion and love for Bharat mata  without an Indo-Pak  cricket match being played.

The broad passage reserved for parade gets converted  into a large stage. The oxymorons continued when audiences performed with full gusto. Our clothing tells the faith we follow, so I see the people from all the faiths  drenched in the colour of patriotism as well as in the sweat of hot and humid month of May, dancing, laughing, enjoying. I hated myself for having two left feet, but I did what I knew. I whistled loudly like no one was watching.

Partition took place mainly because  Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah thought Muslims needed a separate country. Before 1940 it was not even imagined that such a thing could happen. I could only guess by reading the literature of united India. Can you doubt the true friendship between Jumman Sheikh and Algoo Chaudhary depicted in premchand's famous story 'Panch Parmeshwar' ? Religion was the main cause of the partition, and religion was the only thing I did not see separating us when I sat at Wagah. 

The popular song from the film Veer-Zaara, was playing when husband and I entered the place which looked like an open air theatre. The songs usually played there are, Aisa desh hai mera is written by Javed Akthar, Ye desh hai veer Jawanon ka, penned by Sahir Ludhianvi, sung by our beloved Mohammad Rafi and in the movie performed by Dilip Yusuf Kumar. 

The place I was sitting was not allowing me to see the audience on the other side of the line. It was clear that attendance was thin. A lone small boy was running around waving the Pak flag. The mood was rather formal. I wondered if there was a lady sitting there who was also a school teacher like me. If we could talk or there could be a souvenir  shop, a restaurant where we could taste cuisines from both the countries.We are so similar, but the conflicting thoughts at the back of my mind refused to budge and reminded me all that their army  did to our Lt. Saurabh Kalia in captivity for over twenty two days. Could I see an enemy in the woman sitting that side? No!

I could hardly listen to the music being played across the line, but a journalist friend who watched the parade a few days back had told me that they played  songs sung by Mika! A singer popular among the younger generation of Indians. he also came back humming 'Pakistan, Pakistan' by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who is loved by old n young in India. Indian media's love for Pak is not hidden from the whole world and how I adore the videos from Pakistan praising our Prime Minister and the adorable accent they call him Modi sa'ab with.

I grew up cheering India, but the biggest poster in my room belonged to Imran Khan. I hate mom watching some of the never ending serials on Indian TV channels,  but love to watch Zindagi Gulzar Hai with her on youtube for hours. It has a  strong female protagonist. I still remember her dialogue, "Zindagi main kitne log hote hain jo hum per garm chai nahi girne dete?"The male lead is  Fawad Khan, well a separate post is needed to describe his aura.

Even a small child can tell who is the culprit for the mess and war created between the two countries. He is definitely neither I nor the lady sitting on the other side of the gate at the wagah border,who would love to visit Mumbai or Delhi during her next vacations, if given chance and peaceful circumstances. I too would love to visit the Swat valley, Malala Yousafzai  talks so fondly about.

It is said that after the dark night comes the sparkling sunrise. Thinking about the dashing and brilliant boys sacrificing their precious lives in the continuous war between two countries, hoping against the hope I pray for peace.

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