(I probably should have written this last week)
Last week was the 60th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence. August 14, 1947 signified the ‘Parition,’ when Pakistan split from India. Pakistan was created to be a “Muslim” country so Muslims that were on the India side migrated to Pakistan for the most part (still plenty left there) and Hindus on the Pakistan side went to India.
My mom was just a baby when her family migrated. Everyone in the village next to theirs was killed, at which time they realized it was time to go to Pakistan. The put a lock on the door of the house and left with few possessions.
There would be these camps that those who were migrating stayed in as they trekked over to Pakistan. A while ago my dad, who was about 7 at the time his family migrated, said how one night he snuck out of the camp to get a cookie. He said it offhandedly and I don’t even know what we were all talking about when he brought it up, but my sister and I exchanged a look. I was like, “Dad, you risked your life for a cookie?”It was beyond me.
Although I was born and raised in the U.S., I’m still defined by my Pakistani ethnicity and yet I still don’t know much of the story behind the partition. All I really do know is that Muslims and Hindus were killing each other. I don’t know what events transpired surrounding the break from India, the key players, etc. I don’t know anything.
So when I was at Borders last week, I got excited when I saw the book Indian Summer, which is about the summer India and Pakistan achieved their independence. After I’m done with this book, I’ll look into it more. And then one day, maybe I’ll travel to the town of Uttar Pardes in India where I still have a few distant relatives and see if I can picture what life must have been like before the country split and most of my family left there. Who knows, maybe while I’m conducting this hypothetical trip I can finally figure out why my last name is Burney.
The New Yorker published an extensive review of Indian Summer.
Lana Lang herself, Kristin Kruek, plays a Muslim girl during the time of partition in the Canadian movie Partition, starring with Jimi Mistry. I have yet to see it but I am, I have to admit, intrigued. Why should you watch it? Because of the tagline on the poster of course: Two Faiths. Two Worlds. One Love.