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Tsunami of aggressive nationalism

Across USA, Europe and beyond

Internationalism is my creed; patriotism acceptable

But not the sedition law

 

My ancestors born in Pakistan

Part of undivided India

Communal partitioning in 1947

Affected lives

 

My mother born in 1921

At Suri Mohalla, Rawalpindi

Completed her studies

At middle school, Rawalpindi

 

At school she learnt needle work

Hygiene, domestic science, cooking

Practical physiology, arithmetic, laundry

Three languages, history, geography

 

My father born in 1914

In village Amar Kalan, Gujrawalan

Studied at Dayal Singh College, Lahore

After B.A. headed Delhi

 

Job obtained, came marriage proposal

From a slim, sharp featured girl

Exchange of Rs. 5 and sweets

Sealed their future at Montgomery

 

Father earned rupees thirty-five per month

At Viceroy’s Office

Household expenses got managed

Courtesy mother’s skills honed at school

 

Nanak’s Sufism helped too

Nanak born in 1469

In Nankana Saheb

Founded Sikhism

 

Russian revolution and Lenin inspired revolutionaries

Sukhdev, Rajguru, Bhagat Singh

Hanged by British in 1931

At Shadman Chowk, Lahore

 

In 1762 Sikhs occupied

Abdullah Khan Masjid, Lahore

Built Gurudwara housing priests

In the mosque building

 

When Muslims filed cases for recovery

Courts under British rule

Maintained status quo

Denied justice, Muslims got no relief

 

In 1935 Sikhs demolished the Mosque

Bombay High Court ruled in 1940

Building was indeed a mosque

But Limitation Law merited its use as Gurudwara!

 

The upheaval of 1947

When Muslim neighbours escorted safely

My ancestors to military vans

On journey to India

 

Coming from different parts of Pakistan

My ancestors, relatives got scattered in India

To Delhi, Punjab including present day Haryana

And Jammu & Kashmir!

 

My aunt hailing from J & K

Taught us love for all living beings

Often times I would see her

‘Talk’ to house sparrows and hens

 

In 1971 Bangladesh was born

We left Delhi

As part of medicos team

To render services

 

Medical camp based in

Village Matikunda, Uttar Dinazpur, West Bengal

Having eighty thousand refugees – Hindus, Muslims

Their plight similar to those of 1947

 

At St. Columba’s school, New Delhi

I studied for eleven years

Christian Brothers inculcated: Love thy neighbor

Can one go against their teachings?

 

Babri Masjid demolished in 1992

Resulted in widespread violence

We worked amongst victims

At Janta Mazdoor Colony, Seelampur, Delhi

 

A dispensary based in Hanif’s house

Abid and his ammi ever helpful

Child Noori bringing home-made tea

Bashir Chacha’s wisdom guiding us all

 

In struggle for their rights

Our brush with Marxism goaded us

To launch dharnas and rallies

Braving police brutalities

 

Globally forces of reaction bull-dozing people

To hate other countries

Were I to falter for a moment

I’d become a living corpse.

 

[Endnote: My classmates of 1969 batch for MBBS course at Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi nicknamed the eight of us – who worked at refugee camps in Bengal – as “Bangladeshis”. Even fifty years later if an old friend spots me on the streets of Delhi he/she would use the tag “Bangladeshi”! For me this is recognition one would aspire for in such troubled times when Bangladeshi migrants are being hunted and hounded in India.]

Dr. P.S. Sahni is a member of PIL Watch Group. Email: pilwatchgroup@gmail.com


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