It’s that time of the year again: August 14/15, when — on monsoon-drenched streets — we commemorate our tryst with destiny. (Side-note: were Pakistanis included in the tryst-making we? I like to think so.)
Flags, anthems, lights, parades: all the the usual paraphernalia of patriotism are on display. If nationalism is supposed to be a worldwide disease, then Indians and Pakistanis are as infected as any other community. But the memory of what our freedom cost us - the tragedy of Partition - should be a grim lesson against the poison called nationalism. 1947 was when we became free. But 1947 was also when our colonial masters and power hungry elites sundered an ancient land, leading to a holocaust in which hundreds of thousands perished.
So was Partition worth it? With infant mortality rates of 63 and 81, while governments spend obscene amounts on phallic symbols of military potency, the only sane answer is a resounding NO.
Not in my name, I say to our political masters. Not in my name were countless innocents slaughtered for being of the wrong religion on the wrong side of Mr. Cripp’s imaginary line. Not in my name should you bar my father from returning to his home town of Jaipur. Not in my name should you rename the streets of my home town Karachi, to rewrite history, to have us forget that 40% of the population of pre-Partition Karachi was Hindu. Not in may name will you deny my father’s childhood friend - a Sindhi Hindu by birth - a visa to visit us in Karachi. Not in my name will you Arabize Urdu and Sankritize Hindi to prove to the world that we speak different languages, thus we are not children of the same land. Not in my name will you spend billions on hateful weapons while children starve. Not in my name.
Take your macho nationalism and warrior myths and divisive tales of religion and false gods of patriotism and hate. Take them all and begone, to the dustbin of history with you. With apologies to Soran, I have a tryst with destiny and I don’t want to be late.