Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A tale of 1 country: Brothers in arms!

I stand at my balcony and watch the unfortunate (no not unfortunate) events unfold 2 floors down. Dadi (grandmother) has fallen to the ground and is crying, my mother has a face of steel, its frozen into a blank stare; I know this state, I have seen it before, she is controlling herself showing a brave and proud wife to the world. She is helping dadi. Uncle keeps pointing past the gate and is shouting something at dada (grandfather). Dada has just locked the gate and is walking back to the house.

Past the gate I can see a group of people all clad in white, surrounding something lying on the ground covered with a white cloth. My governess Shobhadi stands next to me holding me, afraid that I'll run downstairs into the scene unfolding. She and and the servants have been given strict orders that I can not be allowed downstairs. Dada thinks I do not understand what is happening, he thinks I cannot comprehend what is going on, but I do.

The year is 1940, my name is Sandip, I'm 10 years old. I think My father just died.

Yes, I'm sure of whats happening. I know enough of the alphabets, I read and understood the headlines in the New India Post today morning, I also saw my father's name mentioned. I do not know my father. Dada said he died 6 years ago in an accident, but from what I've understood from overhearing my mother's and dadi's discussions, my father is.. no, was..  a patriot and joined the independence movement. He strictly instructed my mother not to leave the house or go against my dada, he couldn't force the 2 of us to live like refugees nor could he bear to take me away from my dada. Father loved and respected his family, and most of all my english loving dada.

I look down at the unfolding scene trying to understand what I feel. Am I sad or am I indifferent?? I don't know what to feel.

I look down and see the huge crowd shouting and screaming angry slogans ready to kill and be killed. Bapu, standing a few paces away from me, he raises his hand and the crowd falls silent as they listen to his voice, hear what he says and they calm down. In those last few days, Calcutta was the only peaceful city in the country.

The date is 14th August 1947, I'm at my best friend Ornob's place where Bapu is staying. Ornob's sister and my love interest Deepa stands next to me hugging my hand. I feel the tension and uncertainty radiate from her. Ornob, standing inbetween me and Bapu, looks at me and says "Sandip, do you see what's happening here? The English have broken our India into 2 so that we and now our brothers the Pakistanis can never unite against the west. They have divided us such that we can never outdo the west". I nod as I see the sadness in Ornob's eyes, we are all sad to witness this unfortunate event. Brothers have been separated and pitted against each other. I'm afraid the results of the day's events will reverberate across generations.

The date is 29th March 2011, all I hear about is the upcoming cricket match between India and Pakistan. My grandson Abhiroop, keeps on about how "India will win and destroy the Pakis!". I look at him and try to tell him that we are brothers, one nation divided artificially into 2 by the west who till today plan and scheme and foster the hatred such that we can't unite. There is a photo of Pakistani tourists in the newspaper today. They have come to see the match. Standing beside Indians, they look like us and we look like them. We all dress the same way, look the same way, talk the same way. Yet, we hate each other's guts and keep fighting and bickering over trivial matters. Kashmir, a sensitive issue for the countries, but will the issue exist if Pakistan and India united and became 1 country? Pakistan wants Kashmir and India wants Kashmir. If we are 1 country we both get Kashmir!

I look forward to the day when we can unite as brothers, India and Pakistan should take the step forward, dissolve both the countries and make it into one big nation of peaceful people who work towards each other's betterment, Hindus mixing and matching with Muslims and Muslims with Hindus; like it was before the partitions, like it was before the English came to this land, like it was in ancient times, like it should be.

But instead these children they fight and bicker and waste their energies. People want to split up states, like India was split up. My question is what will you get by doing that? Independence? Like India and Pakistan? We have been fighting each other ever since. If we had solved our problems and become one we would not have wasted so many resources fighting each other but would have developed our economies and homes, eradicated poverty, illiteracy, infanticide and so many deseases! Isn't that better than fighting?

Imagine the Pakistani and Indian cricket team as one. SO much talent! We can easily become the best team / nation in the world. A beacon, a bright and shining light, a model for the world to follow.

WHERE the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

-> SJ

*Disclaimer: Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental