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The ghosts of 1947

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In the streets of old Rawalpindi, traces of the city’s cosmopolitan, pre-Partition past can still be found. Crumbling mandirs, cavernous havelis, and time-worn gurdwaras harken back to an era in which Sikhs, Hindus and other communities shared this historic city with Muslims. As we are reminded in August each year, this was not to last.

Punjab, along with Bengal, was the worst affected by violence during the fateful months of summer 1947. In Punjab, as communal tensions reached a crescendo, they ripped apart communities which had lived together for centuries. Former bureaucrat and erudite gentleman Roedad Khan was a witness to the chaos. He has described for a BBC documentary:”Hindus and Muslims were the grip of madness, you know. Lunacy, lunacy.” The intensity of this vivisection was such that the pain caused by it has lived on. It occupies a permanent place in the minds of even those that did not witness it directly. Stories of Partition, passed down through families, have preserved the memories of the tremendous suffering that it entailed.

When I think of Partition, I am inevitably reminded of Bapsi Sidhwa’s immortal Ice-Candy Man, brought to screen by Deepa Mehta as the epic motion picture Earth 1947. Through the eyes of eight-year old Lenny, a Parsi girl growing up in Lahore, it captures the final moments before the “cracking” of India. Young and inquisitive Lenny is the only child of a respectable Parsi couple which resides in one of........

© Daily Times