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I received a lot of powerful comments on this page when the article was initially published. Unfortunately, those comments were taken down when the article was archived. I am continuing to search for an original version of the page, so that I can reproduce the comments here:
Meanwhile, here are some additional comments that I received via email:
A professor in Delhi forwarded me your article in The Hindu. It is deeply touching. It's very good to know that your grandmother was able to reunite with her siblings, but it's at moments like these - as I wrote to the professor - that one feels inclined to consider partition not just a mistake but a crime against humanity. I hope your article has also been published in Pakistan. The link below is to a column I wrote recently for Dawn, but it refused to publish it, so I sent it to The Hindu.
A case of mistaken paternity?
I read your article describing the long awaited reunion of your Naani with her brother and sister. What caught my attention was your commitment to the cause and the perseverance you displayed in the four and half year process. Obviously the results were worthwhile even though for a brief time period.
My dear Tanveer Ahmed,
I read with all the care your feelings demand in your article in respected The Hindu. First, I sincerely thank The Hindu for giving you the space to share with the readers what you have in your mind and heart. I am proud of being born in this great Nation.
I scanned and attached your piece. Even though emphasising infringes one's thoughts, I have emphasised what attracted my mind. I am sorry.
First, we the Hindus believe next incarnation of our Lord would be in the form of a Horse. We in Tamil say thoughts are like horses. It traverses time and space so fast you see. Presently, the medium invented by our Western brethren have helped us to communicate so effectively you see. So, in my mind our Lord has already incarnated?!
You are right when you say 'politics and politicians herd us like sheep into a protective 'national' net that restricts and exploits us rather than allow us utilise our strenghts'.
I always wondered about the partition and its aftermath. Our politicians in India claim it is got by Ahimsa, and, that too of Gandhi. But when I saw and see so much pain and carnage inflicted on the poor - I have reserved my view on that preachings. We have paid a heavy price by way of loss of lives and pain to those who are torn in that turmoil and live to suffer it. Quite painful you see.
I could see that pain in you as an youngster who chose to work to see your close people come together. And, your naani could at least enjoy her food; for once. I was pained to read those words.
I thought - with those thoughts, I would reflect a few for our benefit?
When Japan was rocked by earthquake at Kobe the respected TIME brought out an article. It started something like this. When rich was not willing to share any, poor was willing to share whatever little they had. That defines life as lived by humans - I believe. But, you see, the rich and poor is relative. Period.
I sincerely believe religion is for our private life. Yet, the politicians play tricks on us to deceive us. In this I include the religious people too who infringe in the political space for their exploits. Any way life is like that.
I submit to you all my thoughts on Indutva as I see.
I wondered why my Northern people are so focused on the Hindu-Muslim divide and conflict.
I submit the Acknowledgement I wrote in my struggle to restore my honour as I saw with Department of Space and Government of India. It gives a glimpse of me as a person. Finally I shared my thought about the harmony which is needed for us to survive. I always wondered - how come people in the Southern most part of peninsula have evolved to do so. I would like to give a glimpse of my thoughts. You see, this region is protected by sea on all the three sides. North is the only way through which thoughts could have come - before the advent of sea being opened. The religion and language Tamil and the wisdom professed by it has stood a great steed in protecting the people.
When Alexander came - even though he could defeat Porus - he might have been sacred by the courage of Porus as well as the people who could tame the elephants. When the Mohals came they could defeat the Rajputs as they have the culture of fighting the battle leading and thus died physically. So they could conquer the major portion at their zenith. Yet, the South was not affected by them. I give credit to the language and the values of those people who existed and exist in the South. When the British came, they mainly governed through subservient locals. As we learn the governance part is on different who ever is at the helm (?!) they could rule us so long. When the momentum gained, the British left. But, they have sowed the seed of religious poison between the Hindus and Muslims which was not there until then. This is my perception.
The political class thrives on that poison even now as it is convenient for them you see. Otherwise what can explain the persons who were born in present Pakistan and live in India and play an important role in its governance and your President Musharraf who was born in India chose to lead the Nations like this. Of course the ruling class have their own way you see - when they have people to fight their proxy war to their entertainment - if I am not wrong?
I request yours and all those to whom I mark this to read HARIJANS, my thoughts on Gandhi. May be time has come for the young to see beyond Gandhi and look to live their lives to their best as they deemed it fit. The incarnation of Lord as Horse is doing a good stead for the poor.
I sincerely believe the goodness of the common man would see him/her through. As our Mumbai people live their lives, as the media says. I mean the common man. He is not worried about the material loss. And, even the lives lost. It is the living who should live their lives to their best you see.
I am glad you could give some moments to your elders and The Hindu shared it with the readers - to inspire the pained souls?
My best wishes to you and to all those in Pakistan and humanity in general.
I read your article in The Hindu dated 19th September 2009. It was so nice to know about your Naani's reunion with her siblings and the commendable support extended by your grandfather in the whole process. Hope everybody gets blessed with a grand daughter like you.
In your aforesaid article you mentioned your Naani's name as Leelo Begum and her siblings' as Lekh Raaj and Kamala Devi. Was there an intercaste marriage in your family? I am just being inquisitive. Hope that doesn't sound too intrusive.
I will be eagerly waiting for your reply.
My response to Akshat:
Apologies for the awfully late response. I am the maternal grand-son of Leelo Devi. It was a forced inter-caste marriage if you like. It happened in the backdrop of a supposed war of liberation when my Naani was displaced from the rest of her family and found by my grandfather who took her as a bounty of war.
Dear Tanveer Sahib,
I was so touched by your piece in Hindu today that forwarded it to hundreds of friends in groupmail and posted on twitter/facebook. Forwarding my piece on Pakistan for your perusal.
When he forwarded the article, he introduced it with the following insightful words...
Perhaps such pieces make no impact on political class and military bosses of three countries-India, Pakistan and Bangla Desh. But for people, these are most touching human accounts of reality. When the rulers of three countries will make borders irrelevant, as they proclaim many times for public consumption?
I am from mumbai and am glad to read ur article.
U r first person to interact from ur part of kashmir.
V in india want to hear more wat u people say, do and think.
Kindly express ur opinions freely in other indian news papers even if u do not have favorable opinion of us. Ultimately u r still our people even if u don't consider it a fact.
Thanks and regards
I am very happy to read your article in the Hindu today. You have succeeded in this mission because of your position in the society and personal dedication.
Hundreds of such similar cases where relatives have died and could not meet their kith & kin due to partition. Actually there are more Hindu & Sikh women who were taken to Islam religion.
I have been pleading in the Parliament that Pakistan & India government should allow all those people who were born before 1947 to go & visit their village or city and they should get some special permit for the visit. This would help the dying generation to fulfill their wish of visiting their birth place before death. No. of such persons is not much & is dwindling very fast. If this happens people may also find their separated relatives.
I admire your feelings and bold statement expressed in this article. I am thankful to the Hindu for this good coverage which will at least open the deaf ears of the government.
Eid Mubarik & may Allah bless you.
Member of Parliament
First of all, my deepest apologies for the late response. My life isn't as organised as I wish it to be. There are many limitations that I am confronted with on a daily basis. It's soothing and flattering words from readers like yourself that keep me motivated.
Yes, taking initiatives for those old people is an absolute must. I would be willing to participate in any initiative that enables Hindus and Sikhs to come to Pakistani-administered Kashmir. In fact, I wish for them to come and re-build a Mandir/Gurdwara or two.
Anything to give us a glimpse of our united past...I wish you all the best.
This is Suresh from Andhra Pradesh. The impact of partition is almost absent in this part of sub continent. But every time I read about the partition of India and subsequent riots and dismemberment of families like your nannies make me feel lucky as we escaped it as matter of luck and geography.
The way your presenting your essays is an eye opener for other journalists working on both sides. I would like to be part of your activism. Right now I am preparing for Indian Civil Service Exam (to become a diplomat).
I wish I can meet you once in my lifetime.
Thanks to you - Tanvir Ahmed for this writeup.
If only the Paharis and other peripheral eco-communities as those along the riverbeds ; sea' forests or ilanders... whose eco-sphere is a natural habitat are given that degree of autonomy as required or valid.... and then the rurual areas also given a degree-less though of eco-socio-political self-management.... the the Nation can really thrive both as a civilization and an International Entity.
Aa a social anthropologist with a first hand familiarity with a hill tribe and its way of life I have also experienced that 'Oneness' which is virtually a spiritual and a cosmic one not needeing any human rights commission or a humanitarian assistance from the Outside.
Hope and Pray .. We the current humanity will work towards such a good precedent -- the miriad dividing forces nothwithstanding.
My response to Kunal who was a 3rd Year LLB Student in Delhi:
First off, I must apologise for the awfully late response. I thank you for your words and analysis which proves that we still feel the hurt of partition even though we were born many a year later.
Dear Tanveer Ahmed
First let me wish you a heartfelt Eid Mubarak!
Your article ‘A Quiet Triumph for Humanity’ is so appropriate for this occasion and for this time of various festivals. I read it with tears of joy and sorrow. (You see I was born in Peshawer and my family and I lived in Arjun Nagar in Rawalpindi for a while just before Partition. I have distinct memories of my childhood in those newly built colonies between the Nala and Lei River!).
I’d like to convey to you my admiration and gratitude for your efforts and for your expression to rebuild the bonds of unity on the subcontinent and for humanity at large.
With very best wishes
With kind sharing of the article by Kishore Saint to the family mentioned below, I am hereby - in turn - able to share a moving exchange of letters between them as they reminisce over life in Rawalpindi before 1947:
My brother, Chand Kishore Saint has forwarded this heart rendering story of a family reunion across the borders of a partitioned country in India and Pakistan. I am forwarding the article as well as attaching a picture of my brother and I, along with our father, taken in 1946, in Rawal Pindi from where the author, Tanveer Ahmed penned the article. We lived in Arjun Nagar with our Nani whom we called 'Beji'. I thought you'd find it insightful, since this year there is a convergence of Hindu Navratri with Muslim Eid and Jewish Rosh Hoshana . Enjoy.
Prem (Dad, Chacha, Nanaji)
Dear Prem, Tarun, Amita, Roopen
Today is conjunction of Eid and Navratri and I thought I'd share with you all this moving account of reunion across decades of division and distress, with the hope that future makes such occasions possible for all of us without all the hassle. During the 'forties, Prem and I as children lived for a short while in Arjun Nagar, the locality in Rawalpindi mentioned in the article. These were newly built modern colonies for the newly prosperous Hindu middle class. I have quite vivid memories of those days before any inkling of partition emerged on the scene. It was towards or after the end of World War II. I distinctly remember Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's visit when he addressed a massive gatheirng.
With lots of love
Chand and Sudesh
I read your article in THE HINDU. I loved it. It was wonderful.
Well, my English is not that good but, still, your article demanded appreciation.