Words are not bridges

Published: October 26, 2012

The writer is an Indian columnist and author of A Journey Interrupted: Being Indian in Pakistan. She also blogs at http://farzana-versey.blogspot.com/

I had written a poem for a Pakistani friend once when I was in Islamabad on Independence Day — “mine and his”. It conveyed my genuine lack of hostility while respecting the separateness forced by a Partition we had nothing to do with. The response was stone cold; our friendship soon consigned to the mortuary.

Anybody watching the disgusting display of musical warfare of mere desh ki ladaai versus mere watan ki izzat on the reality show “Sur-Kshetra” will realise that it burns in the glare of animosity. That apart, in what can only be termed sado-masochism, after the show viewers are urged to take refuge beneath the shade of poems or slogans “to use words as bridges to build peace and friendship between India and Pakistan”. It is disappointing that the Aman ki Asha initiative chose to get involved in such pugilism.

Write a few words for peace, send them to the TV channel and win a grand prize — to attend the finale in Dubai. Can irony be more telling than that your borderless thoughts will be rewarded in a third country?

India and Pakistan have a common civilisation, but not the same culture anymore. Culture is not a fossil stuck in 1947. Instead of fantasising about how the Berlin Wall came tumbling down (the breakup of Germany was anyway the result of occupation and part of the Cold War), we should pay more attention to the USSR split. Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost achieved little.

The point is, why don’t we address peace within? Where are the aman initiatives by Pakistan in Balochistan or by India with the North East states? Think about the number of movements seeking to assert themselves on the basis of the words they speak.

Does Urdu, the first language of Pakistan, unite people? Regionalism is rife in many parts of the country and politicians have ensured that it remains so. Much of the cultural activity in Urdu is confined to Lahore and Karachi. In Punjab, people speak in Punjabi, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa it is Pashto, in Sindh it is Sindhi. It might be pertinent to point out that these regions add their flavour to Urdu. Even the mohajir Pervez Musharraf spoke in a Punjabi Urdu accent, probably to connect with the largely Punjabi armed forces or, more likely, the epicureans in the havelis. And who can forget that the MQM had objected to Ahmed Faraz holding a position in the National Book Trust because he was a Pathan and Urdu, they felt, was their fiefdom?

Now, the TV channel asks, “Kya aapke paas hai woh shabd, jo mitaa sakey dilon ke beech khinchi sarhadon ki lakeerein?” (Do you have words that can erase the lines drawn between hearts?). It forgets that there are little Indias that won’t even talk to one another because their identity rests on resisting a national language. The Biblical twist the Wagah balladeers have given to our respective obsessions with the neighbour camouflages pressing internal factionalism.

Linguistic activism is not new. You will find it seeking an anchor in blood-soaked chapters recreating the past. These were the rebels. When people say that Saadat Hassan Manto and Ismat Chughtai were ahead of their time, it is precisely because they broke the language barrier. Here, language does not refer merely to a set of words; it is another voice, another way of expressing. In India and Pakistan, there were writers from the Progressive Movement and their verses and stories dripped with ideas of dissent. They were scathing about their own country, writing about the tumult, the dictatorial policies. Their honesty scalded. Can words thrown in the wind for amity singe with a similar truth?

History has tales of profanation. Messiahs and prophets, too, went against established customs. Then, why can we not accept the reality of animus, which is less damaging than the cover-up job? Peace endeavours invariably use the ‘time gone by’ nostalgia, even if it is to kill the dead and lay it to rest. Why should the mirror not show the cracks, and reflect the gunshots, the wounds?

One of the compulsions arises from not wanting to change society’s outlook but only to soften the stance. Visiting each other under ‘controlled’ circumstances cannot be justified as having universal appeal. To what purpose are such efforts when they strive to be solely a defiance of formula, not of essence? A parallel consciousness is not an awakening.

Some mistakenly see such ‘peace with words’ efforts as the much-touted trade ties. This form of trade has taken place for years. It was never packaged as quasi diplomacy. Branded institutional attempts cater to a limited group. Where are the families of the people separated by the birth of the countries? Where are the words of solace for those waiting in long queues, filling up visa forms, and uncertain whether they would be approved to meet those they share their genes with?

It is not just a strip of land that splits us. I am often asked: Why did your ancestors not leave for Pakistan? I have no answer, for we never posed that query, just as one does not ask why one is born.

I still have family in Pakistan, remnants of people I never got to know. Except for one — my khala, my mother’s younger sister. She left almost three decades after Partition with her Indian husband. Words connected the families. One line telegrams that lied about illness so that she could visit; later, there would be the recounting of anecdotes about different cities, different homes, different walls. My cousins spoke in Urdu. They sounded like characters from their tele-serials. “Ankahee”. The unspoken. Word bridges can never cover distances unless the river it is built over flows.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2012.

Reader Comments (55)

  • G. Din
    Oct 26, 2012 - 11:07PM

    “… why can we not accept the reality of animus, …”
    You said it!

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  • Toticalling
    Oct 26, 2012 - 11:08PM

    What a lovely experience reading this article. There is wisdom, irony and knowledge, but yet a sense of loss. Who are we? What makes us one? Willie Brandt said about the fall of Berlin wall: Those who have everything in common can never be separated for ever’
    When I was young believed in Pakistan as a country where those who have so much in common will live in peace and harmony. Has it happened? When I meet somebody from Pakistan in another country, I find warmth and that togetherness that Brandt mentioned. Back home is is a different story. It appears nothing is easy and you need to work hard for finding points of togetherness. Hope next generation who have not experienced partition will be better judges of history on both sides of our borders, mental and geographical.

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  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Oct 26, 2012 - 11:12PM

    India and Pakistan have a common civilisation, but not the same culture anymore. Culture is not a fossil stuck in 1947.

    I have a different view on this. I have number of west Indian friends from Trinidad and Guyana who’s ancestor migrated from united India over hundred years ago. If you attend their cultural functions it is still fossil stuck in the India of that era. I saw a musical marriage where whole marriage was in folk songs off course translated in English. Funerals and post funeral functions are still from that era. They have preserved the culture to some extend.

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  • As usual
    Oct 26, 2012 - 11:58PM

    Yes, Who can say better than the writer ? Our cultures are different now and we should behave in that manner also . Better we should maintain distance .

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  • BlackJack
    Oct 27, 2012 - 12:21AM

    The problem with these pieces (based on the trend over the last three) is that they ask a series of questions for which the writer genuinely has no answers, and she attempts to camouflage this ignorance through poetic poppycock. Her nostalgia over partition is misplaced; she does not have anything good to say about India – possibly there is nothing that inspires her; nor does she share with us the actual thinking of Indian muslims who chose against migrating during partition which could actually be of some interest to both Hindus and mis-informed Pakistanis. Linguistic identity is no longer a dominant issue of strife in India; I have been visiting Tamil Nadu every couple of years and am heartened to see the increasing willingness to speak Hindi, now that it is not imposed on the population – as a child I used to wonder why the Hindi script in each railway station name in the state was blackened out. This is one issue where I feel that India is a shining beacon for the world, and is regarded with awe here in Europe, where even now minor differences in language and culture are considered valid grounds to advocate secession (current example Catalonia). There is no doubt that there is much in common between India and Pakistan, but we are different nations and have chosen different paths; animus is but a by-product and not the objective. The writer needs to figure out what she wants to communicate – there is a separate poetic license section in this paper.
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  • Cynical
    Oct 27, 2012 - 12:41AM

    As poignant as it gets.Recommend

  • External Hand
    Oct 27, 2012 - 1:47AM

    @ the economy guy: the fact that songs in Indian origin weddings in the Carib are sung in english is proof enough that culture is not a fossil. It evolves.

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  • Falcon
    Oct 27, 2012 - 3:04AM

    After reading many articles from the author, I am beginning to feel that the writer is a non-conformist who is too entangled in her own intellectualism to find a way out of it.

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  • Prakash Lal
    Oct 27, 2012 - 3:16AM

    I endrse Author’s view regarding “Sur Ksetra” ,it is really a war and does not look like a music show .The director should change the format and do not ask the captains to comment on rival group contestant and decision of the Judges.I feel that Judge Abida Parween deliberately refuse to give marks to an indian contestant,which led to their defeat-so these type of judgement should be avoided.

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  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Oct 27, 2012 - 6:02AM

    @External Hand:
    Clarification: Songs were folk songs of UP in a language of that era and were translated (not sung) in English for non west Indians as a courtsey.

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  • Raw is War
    Oct 27, 2012 - 7:23AM

    @ It Is (still) Economy Stupid

    you are absolutely right. It is because they retained their culture. But Pakistanis have become more ‘Arabic” in the last 65 years. They seems to have forgotten their Indian roots.

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  • Future_of_Pak
    Oct 27, 2012 - 8:31AM

    Beautifully written. The author has quite a flair with words. Very flamboyant.

    Anyway, a comment for Blackjack: I’ve hung out with about 50 or 60 people from Tamil Nadu over the past few months or so, and none of them (besides maybe 4 or 5 who grew up for part of their life outside of Tamil Nadu) speak a word of hindi. Literally, just 4 or 5 words probably, among that many people. India is one of the only countries in the world that does not have a cohesive national language (I mean large, established, globally recognized countries).

    Dont get me wrong, I’m not having a go. Sure, its the same in Pakistan, but its just your comment was so high and mighty like how you guys have progressed beyond major language barriers.

    I think the authors words on linguistics in Pak and Ind are spot on …

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  • wonderer
    Oct 27, 2012 - 9:08AM

    The Muslims from the Indian side of Punjab who migrated to the other side in 1947 are perhaps the most unfortunate victims of partition. This is so because even after 65 years, they have still not been fully assimilated in the Pakistani society. Their pains and longing for what they left behind are beautifully related in this poignant Punjabi poem by Afzal Saahir, son of one such migrant:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z5xYmLn6Us

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  • Rakib
    Oct 27, 2012 - 9:39AM

    Why did your ancestors not leave for Pakistan? I have no answer, for we never posed that query, just as one does not ask why one is born. (Author)

    Author mentioned Saadat Hasan Manto & one is reminded of the immediate provocation for his decision to move for good to Karachi from Bombay. His best friend, Sialkot-born actor Shyam, mentioned to him in extreme agitation that he would not spare even Manto if only he could take revenge for what was happening to Hindus in Punjab. That was the straw that broke Manto’s resistance against moving to Pakistan. But let not a straw make one overlook the cumulative effect of other baggage. There may be as many stories as there are split-families but what Author says in the Quote above is as honest as it can be and it is also the most widely acceptable reason, that is, no particular reason. And most do not even wonder. Life is not always a simple either/or choice & not always one is permitted a choice. Also, there was no real finality about choice for many who never thought a passport-visa regime would come to exist. Why does one live where one lives? Why did not one’s elders go away? Why is one still not going away? Ludicrous questions and in asking them a few Pakistani Muslims & some Indian Hindus appear to be of identical mindset albeit with difference in motives! Only people that can understand the complex mental processes of the times are the very old among the Muslim, Hindu & Sikh Refugees of ’47. Their grandchildren do not care much except to tell somewhat exaggerated stories of inherited sorrows to shed a maudlin tear or two while in the cups.

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  • mind control
    Oct 27, 2012 - 10:09AM

    She left almost three decades after Partition with her Indian husband.

    So that route of seeking unity is still open for those who want it. And good-luck to them.

    Now coming to the ‘Commonness or oneness’ of the two sides. How can there be any commonness when one side firmly posits itself as an extension of Arabia and the other is still mired in South Asia? And when one side asserts that the two are two distinct nations with one’s heroes being the other’s villains? And when any show of friendship convinces the other of your desire to undo partition?

    No Madam, don’t try to force the issue. Let it be.

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  • Samson Simon Sharaf
    Oct 27, 2012 - 7:40PM

    Farzana,
    I agree. The journey begins from Peace within and Peace abroad. It is not just this Aaman Ki Asha musical competition. It is everywhere Indians and Pakistanis come face to face. National inventiveness has been over played on both sides.
    Cheerios

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  • Gaurav
    Oct 27, 2012 - 10:15PM

    Pakistan denies its Hindu roots. We cannot unite and should never unite.

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  • gp65
    Oct 28, 2012 - 12:58AM

    @Rakib: You never fail to touch my heart whenever you write. Thank you.

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  • Binbin
    Oct 28, 2012 - 2:01AM

    Grand eloquence not withstanding – what exactly is the author of this article getting at ??

    An entire page of words saying absolutely NOTHING taking us for a merry ride all dressed up in poetic verse and pithy platitudes signifying nothing.

    Yes, India and Pakistan are different nations today and yes, mere words cannot bridge the divide. And??

    Pretentious rambling….

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  • Poovhen
    Oct 28, 2012 - 2:14AM

    I dislike it when writers speak of India as only representing the northern part of the country. India is a civilization, not a country. One could “partition” it into any number of political and cultural pieces….but it always glue itself in time. This is the “Hindu” aspect of this subcontinent. Speaking of linguistic scenario, Tamils will never accept Hindi/Urdu. I mean why should they ignore their rich, ancient language and its epics, poems (some written 2000 years ago) and accept a creole language that grew in the bazaar out of nameless vernaculars and alien tongues of invaders and looters.

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  • Cynical
    Oct 28, 2012 - 12:24PM

    @Gaurav

    No one is asking for unification. Being civil to each other will do.

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  • evil
    Oct 28, 2012 - 1:15PM

    @author
    If words can trigger wars and riots , it surely can trigger peace. But necessary actions are needed in order to make it in to reality , along with avoiding unnecessary provocations. The will is more important. people like you , who sing the “can’ts” and “nots” for attention , have no idea about how to make things work “practically” , like you have expressed in your articles…

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  • Samson Simon Sharaf
    Oct 28, 2012 - 2:19PM

    @Gaurav:
    Much that you perceive Hindu actually belongs to the land of Indus and Nara. Nara in Vedes is called Saraswati and Indus in Schinde>Indes>to Hind>Hindu. Both are in Pakistan. Hinduism as an inclusive religion also had multiple origins eg Jains once discriminated as outcasts by High Caste Hindus have now merged as Hindus. In Pakistan High Class Hindus, Jains, Kohli’s Bhail and Dalits (Schedule castes) are all counted as Hindus. In Pakistan there is a significant attempt at breaking caste and class barriers.

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  • pnpuri
    Oct 28, 2012 - 3:03PM

    it should be renamed as kurukshetra or panipat 3rd battle. i have always enjoyed listening to singer from pakistan. 25 years back when i visited a friend with vcr, we watched pakistani plays not indian movie. given a chance to vote for better singer, i might have voted for a singer from pakistan then one from india because i was voting for a singer and not for an indian or pakistani. but this time i want an indian to win. some thing is wrong with format. it is aman ki nirasha

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  • Rakib
    Oct 28, 2012 - 7:01PM

    @gp65: To appreciate something shows sensitivity but to articulate it the way you did is nothing short of generosity. Thank you!

    @Cynical: No one is asking for unification. Being civil to each other will do.

    You are right. I get baffled by this conflict on a non-issue called “unification”.This probably comes from Partition era & the paranoia of the times, which made Pakistanis justifiably touchy. A new creation is always besotted with issues of survival first. 1971 did not help. Eventually,such controversies should have died without ever getting resurrected when AB Vajpayee laid a wreath at Minar-e-Pakistan at Lahore. First Indian PM to do so and that too a man of BJP. That symbolic gesture should have removed doubt, if at all any, in any mind about Indian acceptance of unalterable reality of Pakistan as a Sovereign State. When people still talk in the style of “agar yun hota to kya hota” about partition not having taken place it is no more than idle banter or intellectual gymnastics. Even gods can’t put together those that men have pulled asunder.

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  • P N Eswaran
    Oct 28, 2012 - 9:36PM

    India and Pakistan are two countries – period. There is nothing to romanticize about their commonality. Fortunately, the ‘Wagah Wailers’ are a dying species.

    The relationship between the two countries will be defined by existing issues between them. In fact Pakistan has more in common with the Arabs than India just as Non Muslim nations in the Indian subcontinent have more in common with India.

    The Indo Pak Commonality may at the most be of interest to those Indian Muslims who still retain the mind set that went into the making of Pakistan to rest of the progressive Indian Muslims and non Muslim Indians it is a non issue.

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  • Babloo
    Oct 28, 2012 - 10:56PM

    Indic civilizations should keep Arabic culture away from its lands.

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  • free
    Oct 29, 2012 - 1:23PM

    Unless and until ‘violence’ of any kind is stopped I don’t think any change or even business as usual can ever take place. Violence is the very opposite of civilization. What the author hopes for is civilized exchange between the 2 countries whether they are fossilized in the past or changed with times. For that to happen, violence of any kind must stop.

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  • Zalmai
    Oct 29, 2012 - 7:01PM

    @Blackjack

    During my travels in northeast India specifically in Shillong, Meghalaya I was told by the Khasis that a generation ago most of them did not watch Indian movies, listen to Hindi music and they absolutely refused to wear saris or kurta pajamas but now they are integrating and assimilating. They are learning to compartmentalize dichotomies and reconcile their Mon Khmer roots as citizens of India.

    I found most of the Khasis to be very educated and progressive but their attitudes clearly betrayed a superiority complex vis a vis Indians from the plains that were locally referred to as Dkhar. They looked at non tribals as the other and the Khasi word defining the other is Dkhar, which in and of itself is a derogatory term.

    India is a complex nation, which contains layers upon layers of identities and imposing and enforcing a language would have been counterproductive and this freedom has allowed people to appreciate their own local identities and over time accept their national identity as well.

    Some Pakistani bloggers post comments about the million mutinies going on in northeast India but I found most of them to be very proud and patriotic. Afghans can emulate this example and bridge their regional, ethnic and linguistic divide over time.

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  • Rakib
    Oct 29, 2012 - 7:19PM

    @Babloo:

    Indic civilizations should keep Arabic culture away from its lands

    Interesting though tad impractical, IMO. Celebrated Urdu poet Raghupati Sahay better known as “Firaq” Gorkhpuri had a different view, thus: Sar zameen-e-Hind par aquaam-e-aalam ke Firaq//Qaafile baste gaye Hindustan banta gaya.(Carvan upon Caravan, representing many a race//poured in to Indian soil & Hindustan was made).India is probably world’s oldest immigrant-made country. Interaction of coastal & northern India even with pre-Islamic world had been such that the impact of Arabian & Persian culture became unavoidable & over centuries quite indistinguishable. Exception may be the insular tribal pockets & parts of NE India. There is much in rich Indian life that has Arabia, Iran, Portugal & England & many more mixed up somewhere in it already. Too late to put up restraining walls in the village.

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  • BlackJack
    Oct 29, 2012 - 7:43PM

    @Zalmai:
    Thank you – excellent comment as usual. This was where I was also coming from – not that suddenly people in TN are fluent in Hindi, but that the animosity that used to exist when I was younger seems to have disappeared – hence the use of the word willingness. This has happened at least in part from 2-way migration of people due to creation of educational institutions and employment opportunities in the South, and needs to be replicated in the NE as well.

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  • gp65
    Oct 29, 2012 - 8:06PM

    @Rakib: I think Babloo’s reference was to many in Pakistan constantly disassociating itself from its SOuth Asian roots and calling itself Arabian. He perhaps means that we want to take pride in what we have and not look to KSA for guidance. I doubt he is rejecting any historic influence they may have had on us.

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  • gp65
    Oct 29, 2012 - 8:10PM

    @Zalmai: You are very knowledgeable about Inida having travelled extensively. BAsed on secondary knowledge though Meghalaya never has had an insurgency. It is Nagaland and Mizoram. But from the 1990s onwards they have reached a level of understanding with the federal structure…

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  • Oct 30, 2012 - 12:26AM

    I take strong exception to some anonymous reader trying to suggest that this is an extension of my blog space.

    The person goes to my blog and finds one comment and thinks that this is what I am alluding to and is a hook for this piece? Have you read my op-eds from years ago? My book? Do you know that such a question, “Why did your ancestors not go to Pakistan?” might be posed out of your hearing and the world is not this little box you post in? Just commenting in this space may give you the license to say what you wish, and there are some recipients who quite enjoy such notoriety. I am not one of those.

    If you have some grace, do read up on a person before trying to throw straw darts.

    It is evident in the ridiculous assertion that if one does not like Aman ki Asha, then why quote from it. What kind of logic is this? When you are challenging its merits, you do so. Talk about Nazism and don’t quote Hitler and non-violence and don’t quote Gandhi?

    To another comment that singing against peace gets more attention, you need a reality check. It is the peace-wallahs who get the attention. They are the good ones. And, I would like to know ONE thing they have achieved ‘practically’ that has brought the two countries together. Diplomacy and government-to-government contact is what will bridge the gap, not singing songs, which we can do irrespective of who rules which country.

    And since we are talking about my blog (and the heavens came crashing down), if anyone is interested in the poem I referred to at the beginning of the piece, it is here:

    http://farzana-versey.blogspot.in/2007/08/my-friend-my-enemy.html

    Thanks for the other comments…

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  • Cynical
    Oct 30, 2012 - 4:01AM

    @Zalmai

    Thanks for an enlightened discourse. Apart from the content, I also admire the soothing assuredness, you put your message through.

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  • observer
    Oct 30, 2012 - 4:08PM

    @Rakib:

    Manto explained the reasons for migration slightly differently. According to him at the height of communal tensions, one night Ashok Kumar (the actor) offered to drop Manto home. He took a shortcut through a narrow lane of a particularly volatile muslim majority area and there they ran into a large crowd.Manto was afraid for Ashok Kumar and also for himself. Some people in the crowd recognised Ashok Kumar and Manto feared the worst. To his amazement he found people in the crowd addressing Ashok Kumar as Ashok Bhai and escorting him to safety.
    Manto was bewildered. He thought even to Muslims in India Ashok Kumar is Ashok Bhai and he (Manto) a nobody, perhaps he will have better luck in Pakistan. Ironically, it turned out to be worse.

    Full story at

    http://www.urdustudies.com/pdf/16/20MantoAshokKumar.pdf

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  • Rakib
    Oct 30, 2012 - 6:25PM

    @observer:

    Thank You. I could not open the link but I shall try again. Manto’s own version ought to matter. I had based my post on writings of Ishtiaq Ahmed, a columnist I admire. The article by itself is worth a read. http://apnaorg.com/articles/ishtiaq-20/

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  • Rakib
    Oct 30, 2012 - 6:35PM

    @observer:

    Oops, sorry I forgot a link. Apart from Ishtiaq Ahmed’s article in the following the Second paragraph too relates the tale: http://pakistanlink.org/Commentary/2012/June12/08/02.HTM
    Thank you, ET

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  • gp65
    Oct 30, 2012 - 6:57PM

    @FV: “If you have some grace, do read up on a person before trying to throw straw darts.”

    This is an unreasonable expectation Farzana. All that can and should be expected is that people have read the OpEd and their comments are relevant. They are not expected to be your fans who have read everything you ever wrote.

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  • Zalmai
    Oct 30, 2012 - 7:31PM

    @Observer

    Ashis Nandy cited various examples of this phenomenon in his book The Intimate Enemy, albeit inverted where Hindus gave shelter to Muslims during the communal tensions resulting from the Ayodhya Temple/Babri Masjid riots in UP.

    @gp65

    I think Assam had an insurgency, which started in the 80s or late 70s, United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and now Bodoland, which I think is in Assam also has an insurgency. I noticed that throughout the seven sister states of northeast India there were people that did not consider themselves Indian in absolute terms because their ethnicity/race were closer to the Burmese, Khmer, Tibetan or Chinese but the educated urban people were fully integrated and assimilated as Indians.

    Meghalaya used to be part of Assam but broke off in 1971 mainly due to the fact that Khasi/Garo/Jaintia tribes of Meghalaya are mostly Christian and most Assamese are Hindu and Muslim. I am sure administrative and bureaucratic issues also contributed to the creation of Meghalaya.

    @Blackjack

    The movement of people, education, social services provided by NGOs and overall access to wealth through economic liberalization has played a tremendous role in easing ethnic and linguistic tensions across India, in my opinion. But your are absolutely right in your assessment that most people who rejected Hindi are now willing to learn it and the animosity towards all things Hindi has dissipated. Pervasive media and Bollywood probably had something to do with this also.

    @Cynical

    Thank you for appreciating my humble opinions. I just call it as I see it.

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  • Indian
    Oct 30, 2012 - 7:33PM

    Zalmai

    I am married to a khasi lady.

    Your understanding of India is amazing. Many people live in India their entire lives and never grasp what makes India work. My respect to you.

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  • Rakib
    Oct 30, 2012 - 7:53PM

    @gp65:

    You may well be correct in your interpretation; may be I was mistaken.. Thanks. At times I am hard put to understand how an unsubstantiated (by dna) but loud claim made by a section of Pakistanis about being Arabs (some others may claim Persian, Turkic,Central Asian, White Hun) as a way to emphasise their un-Indianness need bother an Indian at all. Whether the claims are right or wrong is another issue. On related note:-frequently unreasonable expectation is voiced (latest being S. Swamy) that Muslim must own up to Hindu ancestry.This is undignified. It will never work, not even with Indian Muslims, Pak-Muslims being a far cry.

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  • Cynical
    Oct 30, 2012 - 8:53PM

    @Rakib

    If you haven’t yet found the link as provided by @observer, try this;
    in the part 20MantoAshokKumar insert an underscore between 20 and Manto, and also between Manto and AshokeKumar. You will get there.
    It’s a great read.

    @observer
    Thanks for the link.

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  • Zalmai
    Oct 30, 2012 - 9:23PM

    @Indian

    I thank my parents for encouraging me to travel and instilling tolerance of other cultures, religions and languages since childhood. During my travels I try to absorb everything that is indigenous and learn as much as I can about the people, language, culture, politics and history. Total immersion is the only way to understand the essence of a people and one comes out enriched by this process.

    My understanding of India is limited because India contains multitudes and I would have to live multiple lives to understand the million other Indias’ within India.

    By the way, you are a lucky man to be married to a Khasi lady. I found them to be beautiful, sensitive and gracious. I did not care for their cuisine or the betel nuts they chewed but other than that they were fine people.

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  • observer
    Oct 30, 2012 - 9:25PM

    @Rakib:

    This should work. Some how it did not get pasted properly. My apologies.

    http://www.urdustudies.com/pdf/16/20MantoAshokKumar.pdf

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  • gp65
    Oct 30, 2012 - 9:35PM

    @Rakib: “On related note:-frequently unreasonable expectation is voiced (latest being S. Swamy) that Muslim must own up to Hindu ancestry.This is undignified.”

    Not just undignified but completely unnecessary. But Swamy is fringe. I think the reason many Indians get annoyed by the Pakistani claims of supposed Arabian ancestry is that it is then used for making random claims about how ‘we Pakistanis’ ruled ‘you Indians’ for 1000 years – instead of acknowledging the fact that you and we were ruled by the same invaders.

    @Zalmai : Thanks for your response. You are one of the most knowledgeable people on these boards and frequently I learn new things – even about my own country- when I read your posts.

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  • Rakib
    Oct 30, 2012 - 9:36PM

    @Cynical:
    @observer: Thanks a lot. I did read. Super!

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  • observer
    Oct 30, 2012 - 9:50PM

    @Rakib:

    Sar zameen-e-Hind par aquaam-e-aalam ke Firaq//Qaafile baste gaye Hindustan banta gaya.(Carvan upon Caravan, representing many a race//poured in to Indian soil & Hindustan was made).

    Historically this couplet perhaps describes India the best.All caravans, even those that assaulted and destroyed the most precious cultural treasures of the locals, were accepted. In fact perhaps it had become part of the ‘collective unconscious’ (Carl Jung).

    And (here i will stick my neck out) when the Muslims wanted out with a separate Pakistan, perhaps, they caused deep injury to this ‘collective unconscious’. In a sense suddenly an assimilating, integrating civilization was being pulled in the entirely opposite direction.

    Can any civilisation recover from such deep injury? Only time will tell.

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  • wonderer
    Oct 30, 2012 - 10:24PM

    @observer:

    I agree with you. Some Muslims feel the creation of Pakistan was not the partition of India, but the partition of Muslims of the sub-continent. They got divided into three equal parts; India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    Out of those in Pakistan, the most unfortunate ones are those who migrated from Indian Punjab to the opposite side. They are still not accepted as equals. There is a very poignant poem in Punjabi by Afzal Saahir, son of such a migrant, at the following link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z5xYmLn6Us

    Partition of India has proved to be beneficial for no one.

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  • Rakib
    Oct 30, 2012 - 11:11PM

    @gp65:

    …..random claims about how ‘we Pakistanis’ ruled ‘you Indians’ for 1000 years – instead of acknowledging the fact that you and we were ruled by the same invaders.

    Yes that’s correct. Both Pakistanis & Indians of average IQ know what the truth is but Internet skirmish is such that it always moves on predictable lines with jousters looking for vulnerable spots. All arguments are known. With some experience a person can anticipate and write an entire 50 post thread, peppered with a few sane voices too, switching roles between Pak & Indian interlocutors with ease.That’s why I think FV is right. Words solve nothing, they only make known positions harder & arguments more sharp.

    However, it is not unnatural for people to recall days of glory of somebody long dead with whom a very laboured relationship can be established. Tragi-comedy lies elsewhere. Poet Nhanalal once wrote: sukhe dukh sambharva jevoon sukh nathi//dukhe sukh sambharva jevoon dukh nathi. No joy is greater than recalling past sorrow on a joyous day & no sorrow is greater than recalling past glory while in misery.

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  • Samson Simon Sharaf
    Oct 30, 2012 - 11:11PM

    @Reyhan Aslam:
    @FV
    Lets not get down to this level. I have been following and reading her for over 15 years now and within the cyberspace we have agreed to disagree gracefully. If FV gets space in ET, its not her doing or fault. Surely the OPED editor feels that she merits such a space on some criteria and over someone.
    We also ought to realise that the differences such as FV vz Reyhan are now endemic to families split across the divide and time of 65 years. These are two very different environments. Not because they are part of the same family but because their elders had a chance of being part of the same construct. The test case is her Aunt who opted for Pakistan.
    As for Aman Ki Asha, less said the better. As a host in a TV Talk show, I questioned the Pakistani Head of the Asha if he could arrange a friendly cricket match between two clubs in Pakistan. He frankly replied that it was beyond him.
    Normalization of relations between the two countries are a pre requisite for friendly relations. Even this will take time and effort. Reaching a common point from the two extremes of a divide will always be challenging and difficult.
    Cheerios

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  • gp65
    Oct 30, 2012 - 11:41PM

    @Rakib: The other day you quoted Kalapi and today Nanalal. What joy.
    Anyway the reason I said that it is unnecessary to expect Muslims to ‘own up’ to their Hindu ancestry is this :
    Swami and his ilk would surely agree that in a secular India, your belief(whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian, SIkh, Jain, Buddhist or scientologist) or lack thereof today does not impact your rights as an Indian citizen. Why then should the beliefs of your forefathers matter?

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  • Aqueel
    Oct 31, 2012 - 4:06AM

    Correction: In my earlier comment, please read “Last three posts …”, not “Last four posts …” Thanks.Recommend

  • Samson Simon Sharaf
    Oct 31, 2012 - 8:53PM

    @Reyhan Aslam:
    Reyhan,
    You are taking things too far and there was nothing fishy about my tweet. She had written an OPED on Imran Khan to which I did not agree. She had passed some remarks about my oped in the Nation. To have an idea of my works, besides twitter, also google and know what I do. More later as I have to catch a flight.
    Cheerios and no heart burns

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  • Reyhan Aslam
    Nov 5, 2012 - 7:55PM

    Dear ET editors, at least be smart in moderating the comments. I see my approved and posted comments deleted. If you have removed the comments, then you should have at least removed the references and replies to them. No comment henceforth for you have deleted my comments, the contents of which were verifiable by anyone. A reader is disappointed that ET cannot face the truth about its contributor, and want to remain blindfolded. Open your eyes. Face the truth. Get well soon. Bye.Recommend

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