I was on a holiday in Amritsar, Punjab in India recently and there I visited the world’s first ‘Partition Museum’, a museum dedicated to the memories of the partition of the sub-continent in 1947. There I found this book Divided by Partition United by Resilience and bought it.
Since my childhood and also as a student of political science I have always been intrigued by the history of partition of India. And I’ve read many books and watched documentaries regarding partition. So when I came across this book, I had to buy it.
Divided by Partition United by Resilience consists of 21 true and inspirational stories from few of the people who experienced the terror of partition in 1947. Mallika Ahluwalia, the CEO and curator of the award-winning Partition Museum has compiled select stories in this book from the thousands of partition stories the museum had received and recorded.
In 1947 before India got independence from Britain, the partition was announced and that led to one of the largest migrations in human history. Muslims living in India were urged to go to Pakistan, while Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan were asked to head down to India. Unfortunately more than a million people lost their lives and livelihoods in the bloody and brutal partition.
It was a time of catastrophic loss, despite that people found the strength to look towards the future and rebuilding their lives and the country they migrated to. This book captures stories of resilience and resolve of the people and speaks of the triumph of human spirit.
The inspirational life stories offers hope over adversity. These stories are an important and inspirational reminder of how people overcame their grief to emerge stronger.
“Countries can be divided, land can be divided, roads can be divided, but you were dividing people, you were dividing cultures; these cannot be cut. How will you partition the air? The trees that were divided will grow again, and their shadows will fall on one side of the border in the morning, and the other side in the afternoon. There is no use cutting shadows.”
“Unsettled people cannot settle. They only look for a place where they can feel safe.”
“I have always felt like a refugee, I still do.”
“There was no compassion on anyone’s face.”
“They would pour liquor on the wound as a disinfectant, and make people drink it as an anesthetic. It was a mayhem. My father later wrote an account of what he saw- he said the river Jhelum ran red with blood.”
“We get an amnesia, we don’t want to remember.”
“A relationship of loss between us.”
“We had no land, the whole of divided India became our land.”