Tales from the great divide

Updated: 09 August, 2020 08:16 IST | Nasrin Modak Siddiqi | Mumbai

Grab a cup of chai, settle in and listen to some intriguing stories of India's partition

Manisha Gera Baswani
Manisha Gera Baswani

For many, the partition of 1947 is a deeply personal event—it changed the history of several families on both sides of the border. Every year around this time, Ragini Kashyap, author of Quarantine Cooks does a Bordered: Punjab dinner where participants explore the province of Punjab, through the conflict of 1947 over a six-course meal. This year, to keep the conversation going virtually, Kashyap has invited people to share stories through a talk series called Partition 73, stories from a homeland divided.

Starting August 1, over 16 days, 16 speakers—chefs, authors, directors, historians and survivors—all with a unique point of view will share a story on Facebook Live. The speakers are from India, Pakistan and the UK, and represent various facets and outcomes of this seminal event. "This was the largest non-war or non-pandemic-induced migration and so, there are literally thousands of stories that make partition a reality. I think there has generally been silence regarding the abnormality of the event, even though it completely shifted demographics and identity in such a permanent way. A part of my effort is to create an oral symbol of that through the 16 stories," says Kashyap.

Ragini Kashyap
Ragini Kashyap

Aanchal Malhotra, author of Remnant of Separation, will be talking about material memory and what that meant at the time of Partition. Chef Asma Khan will be talking about her family that was split between India, Pakistan and then later Bangladesh. Anubhav Sapra of Delhi Food Walks will share how the cuisine of Delhi has changed in the last 73 years of Partition. Kashyap adds, professors Dr Nadhra Shahbaz, LUMS, Lahore and Dr Radha Kapuria, University of Sheffield will be talking about art, culture and folklore and how that changed under colonial times and later under partition. "We will be talking with my grandmothers—both survivors of Partition but in very different ways. No one collection will ever be definitive and this is just a curated snapshot of the events of 1947.

Historian and journalist, Yunus Lasania says, "For me, every story about Hyderabad city and the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad-Deccan is personal because of Operation Polo. As a Hyderabadi, and as someone who is archiving the city through peoples' memories, these stories are personal to me because of the relationship I have built with the people I have been interviewing. They aren't strangers I meet and forget. Pouring their heart and life stories to me goes beyond the purpose of simply interviewing them; these are lived memories that belong to Hyderabad. Listeners are going to hear stories and information that they never have for most parts, because the stories of Hyderabad's annexation from 1948 barely exist in the mainstream world (except in bits and pieces)."

Yunus Lasania
Yunus Lasania

Adding further, author Manisha Gera Baswani says, "The interview series tries to go beyond the visible and the physical to examine the driving sentiment and emotion that shaped the very core of the Partition series. What fuels a person's commitment to the project, often times for no financial or even social rewards. The interview takes one through the mind and heart of the artist and through her, the voices of the partition stories of her fellow artist friends from both sides of the border."

What: Partition 73: Stories from a homeland divided
When: August 1 to 16, 2020, 8 PM
Where: Facebook Live

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First Published: 09 August, 2020 08:18 IST

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