T.The wo sisters handed me a piece of paper that had faded and turned yellow. The words from my father were typed there. He died in his 1990s and his last request was for his ashes to be divided and he scattered them in three different locations. A modern Punjabi village. Pakistan Where he was born, the Ganges in Haridwar, India, by the Severn Bridge in England. These three places made up his life as he moved from Pakistan to India and then to England during the partition. He felt he belonged to each of them, and he wanted a part of himself to remain in death as he did in life.
Five years ago, I began collecting testimonies from people in Britain who had survived the turbulent events of the division. I soon realized that it was not a faraway story, but one that was all around us in the UK, with a legacy going on.
division of england India In 1947, along the religious stream to Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan, they brought about the greatest wartime and famine-free migrations in human history. From an estimated 10 million he moved 12 million across new borders and left the homes they had lived in for generations as people found themselves in the minority in their new country. About one million people were killed in communal violence. Over 75,000 women have been raped, kidnapped and forced to convert to “other” religions.
A great many families in the UK have something to do with the division, as many of those who migrated from the Indian subcontinent in the early post-war period migrated from places divided by the division. They came to rebuild their country and their lives. They arrived with memories of those rarely spoken out loud. However, in 2017, when we celebrated the 70th anniversary of division, the silence began to break.
I have traveled all over the UK and have heard shocking stories. I met a 70-year-old man with indelible scars on his arm from a poisoned spear. I can’t forget his anguished voice as he explained. I heard an older man sound almost like a child when he described the horror of waking up on a train platform full of corpses. One woman said she overheard her uncle planning to kill the girls in her family to save them from dishonor. Her grandmother persuaded them. Many stories like this were largely hidden over the decades by those who lived with us and still have nightmares of those days. And we didn’t know.
But the partition generation also told other stories to remember. Peoples such as Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus who have lived together for generations and shared a common language, food and culture. We had a deep friendship. They shared each other’s sorrows and joys regardless of religion. A man told me that a Muslim woman in his village was breastfeeding her Sikh cousins after her mother died. What could be more intimate? There were also stories of friends and strangers overcoming hatred to save people of “other” religions. One man said his Muslim neighbor saved his sister and 30 other Sikh girls by sheltering them in their home the day a Muslim mob killed his father.
Now that generation worries loudly whether they will be able to visit their ancestral homes before they die. Is the favorite tree they climbed still standing?
What I never imagined when embarking on these interviews was that the legacy of Britain’s division could be so diverse and complex. increase. But so is a lasting connection to the land left behind, even if no one returns. I have seen offspring who keep dirt in jars. Bangladesh Over fireplaces, people wearing pebbles from Pakistan daily, and people cherishing preserved heirlooms from India, all the places their ancestors left behind 75 years ago. These objects are often the only connection to that time and place. It is also proof that their families once existed on the land, and is meaningful to today’s young people.
For all this time, no border has been able to erase this history, memory, or emotion. was.
For some families, it meant gaining a new understanding of the very word “partition” itself and how older relatives were affected. It was the realization that the beginning could be traced back across national borders to a completely different country.
Many of the people who contacted me to share their stories were third generation. They wanted to know their history beyond their ancestors who came here. they asked: “How can I ask my relatives questions about topics that have never been discussed before?” Some said, “I wish I had asked my relatives while they were still alive.” They must now find another way to delve into their history. All over our country, these split heirs are trying to piece together their family’s past. Starting conversations with family members, visiting archives, learning about history, conducting DNA tests, and even returning to faraway lands.
Writer Elif Shafak He says that it is the third generation, the descendants of immigrants, who dig into their memories. They “have older memories than their parents. Their mothers and fathers say, ‘This is your home, forget it.’”
Of course, these are not personal stories within the family, they are part of our shared history. Because it was a border. Raj subjects came to England, are citizens of it, and live today on these islands for generations. The partition, the end of the empire, and the subsequent migration to the lands of the former colonial rulers couldn’t be more British. It’s a story that everyone needs to know and learn. Still, it is not a mandatory part of the British national curriculum. In Wales, black, Asian and minority history becomes a mandatory doctrine from his September.
There’s always a bittersweet feeling when the August anniversary approaches. A few days ago, a daughter emailed me that her father, one of my interviewees, passed away at the age of 92.
Seventy-five years later, in England we are all heirs to the Divide and the Empire. You have to decide what to do with this inheritance. Decide what to remember and what to forget. Legacy lives on in ways we still don’t know. It happened a long time ago, but somehow she feels that we are just beginning to accept it, both within our family and in the UK.
Seventy-five years later, hidden memories of India’s partition are reviving through generations in England.Kavita Puri
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