Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

What takes me to India?

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On the morning of 9 January Shabnam and I cross the border to catch a flight from Amritsar to Pune. At Pune, we’ll be met by someone to drive us about three hours (91 km) to a conference centre at the hill station of Panchgani. As in July when I was invited by those wonderful people Professor Rajmohan Gandhi and his wife Usha to Switzerland, this conference, like the earlier one too resonates with the theme of man’s injustice to man in the name of religion, caste and colour.

I had not anticipated being a speaker at the conference, but some days ago I was told that I’ll be in a panel titled ‘Memory, Justice, Healing’. I will be speaking on my experience of March 2008 when I went home to Jalandhar for the first time in my life. There I met Mahindra Pratap Sehgal whose father was among the rioters that had killed my father’s immediate family – twelve persons in all. Incidentally, the Sehgal family was neighbours.

In those minutes that turned to a couple of hours with Mr Sehgal (he sadly passed away in March 2011) I realised that we had a common heritage. He had inherited guilt from a father who rued his action within hours of having perpetrated it and died in 1971 (or ’72) repenting. ‘They were good people. I committed a grave sin joining the rioters,’ is what Mahindra Pratap says his father would repeat. On the other hand, I had inherited grief from a family that stoically refused to mention the holocaust of Partition and the death of parents and sisters.

It is this I will speak about in the context of memory, justice, healing. And I am glad that I met Mr Sehgal before he passed away. At least he knew I held nothing against either him or his father.

On 12 Jan, Shabnam will be taking part in a session on ‘Empowering the Marginalised’. And that same afternoon I will be honoured with a chance of planting a tree in the lawns of the conference centre.

Partition stories: Across the Border, 'I have seen Lahore', Memory, Justice Healing,

Related link: Dialogue Initiator: Salman Rashid

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 9 January 2014 at 09:40, Blogger Suman Palisetty said...

nice to hear Sir

At 10 January 2014 at 17:15, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Must be very emotional moment. One can imagine the pain. Look forward to knowing more on this.


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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days