1947, Undivided India:
1947, Kolkata: A twelve-year-old is hiding in a graveyard, with his family. He’s heard the cries in the streets, and he could see the clouds of smoke gulping down those cries. He knows it’s searching for him, he has seen his people being taken away by it. He needs to get to the train to Dhaka so that he could forget how the land he was born in was burnt in such fires, that even the tombstones weren’t left.
1947, Delhi: A four-year-old sees her mother with starving eyes, waiting for rotis, as her mother burns the stove with trembling hands, remembering how the fire took her husband, just a few days ago. The news of rioters heading towards their neighbourhood comes with a man covered in blood and fear, on their doorsteps. The family of two, runs away, leaving the flame on the stove burning. She comes back, as a grown woman from Karachi, to find the flame still intact.
1947, Punjab: An eleven-year-old, with his innocent eyes, looks at the men of his family, picking up guns as their home burns down in ash. There was singing in the streets, and sights of infamy, complete families being butchered and the villages being smoked up, the 11-year-old finds his voice lost in battle. After many moons and years, he’s still finding his voice in gun powder and graveyards.
1947, Lahore: An eight-year-old doesn’t understand what is happening in his village, and why his mother is wailing and clenching her ears praying for the commotion to stop when all he could hear is silence. He is not old enough to understand the difference between the silence and the noises of death. Life was simple before this silence, and he couldn’t understand why were they running away, in trains and buses, to find more silence. The faces were unfamiliar, and yet they were not.
1947, Haryana: A fifteen-year-old fills his pockets with postcards and runs away from the beloved streets, which were now filled with angry mobs armed with swords and axes. He could see his people lying in the bloodshed as the caravan he was sitting in, passed through the macabre of war. He was separated from his father when the hatred was burning down his old home to the ground, how is he to forget the mobs that took every wood left of that house to burn in their own fireplace? He showed his postcards and crumbled maps to his children, years later, as bedtime stories, so that they could understand that the hate is never the answer.
“I will never forget my home,” said one,
“I don’t even remember what colour the walls were” Cried another,
“All I know is that the windows were stained and no new flowers grew” whispered someone from the crowd.
Kuch katre yahan bhi bahe,
Kuch aansu wahan bhi bahe,
koi barf ki chaadar me so raha tha,
koi judaai ke aansu ro raha tha,
ek ghar tha mera bhi chota sa kahin,
Dhoond rahi hu, par milta hi nahi.