ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Recovering Memories of Partition

The Memory Tool

Are stories lost forever, and do personal histories count? In a world that has in recent decades seen immense change, with identities and even histories in flux, it also follows that “big events” shape “small lives.” But the manner in which every life comes about, how one’s history is shaped, has a bearing on the universal history that is then written about. Many a time, small histories are lost, and it is then that we must go in search for these other stories, using our own memory tools.

This article was originally part of my 2016 graduation lecture at the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA Programme in Writing. I am grateful to my faculty advisor, Lawrence Sutin, for his generous comments, and to my other mentors, Nance Van Winckel and Brian Leung, who in many ways helped me figure out some of the things this article contains.

Nineteen forty-seven: the year when India won independence and Pakistan was born. For a long time, the official version in both countries extolled the struggle for freedom that led to independence. One that involved people across classes, communities and castes and quite rightly—Gandhi’s role in it, and Jinnah’s too, who fought for the rights of Muslims and spoke eloquently on why Pakistan was necessary.

But there is another side to the story, another way of looking at it. Two new countries were formed, when its political leaders and people of certain provinces, of different religious communities, realised that they could no longer live amicably with each other. With independence in 1947, also came partition, the division of the country, with its own history, its own story of struggle.

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Updated On : 26th Dec, 2017
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