November 3, 2010 at 9:15 AMNov (Cinema, Friends, Literature, Media, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

Unfortunately, i had to enter that house once again. Hesitantly i stepped in and the boy who escorted me was taking me to the room where few years ago i used to feel at home. But as we neared the room, realizing who occupies the room now, i stayed out.

Yes, its the same house where i had laughed and cried, in brief had lived some of the best days of my life. Govind had welcomed me to the house, years ago, for the first time saying “dude, we are like a family. you are our new member.” I had entered and had felt at home. But now, there i stood, as if i was standing on fire. Govind, Shiva, Reddy no one live there now. Some others have occupied the space. It is no more my house, as it was once. I had lost something, i realised. It was not the home, but the feeling of being at home. Thouse the building stood there, it was not the very same for me. I was an alien in the place where i once felt at home.

Few months later, i enter my second home (one can even call it my first home, as some do) and i feel the same experience. The same building stood there, yes with some new additional bricks. But overall being the same structure. Yet, while breathing in that given space, it was a strange feeling. I felt like an outsider. Did not feel at home in that place where for years i spent more time than that at home. So, many say that place is my first home. Nothing wrong in what they say. But now, it did not appear to belong to me anymore. It appeared to me that i did not belong to that place anymore. I felt like an alien.

When remebering these two recent incidents i am reminded of the last scene of the Bimal Roy film Do Beegha Zameen where the protagoniost returns to his land which now does not belong to him and is occupied by an industry. The protagonist picks up a handfull of soil affectionately and a guard comes to him, thinking he has stolen something and makes him drop the soil he held in his hand. The soil the land no more belongs to him. Someone has swallowed it and he is alien in his own piece of land with no right to hold his own soil in his hand.

The book The Other Side Of Silence by Urvashi Butalia also narrates similar stories when it begins to unfold. The story of Ranamama and Subhadra Butalia speaks the similar sort of alienation.

Ranamama who stayed back in Pakistan, converting to Islam, after partition in his own hoouse at one point says “Every brick in this house seems to curse me. I rejected what was mine and i have not been accepted by the faith that i adopted”

Ranmamama’s sister and author Urvashi’s mother Subhadra Butalia is taken to her house in Pakistan along with her sisters by Urvashi after 40 years of partition. Urvashi speaks of this visit back to home of her mother saying “Home- this was the house in which my mother and her brothers and sisters had grown up. They knew every stone, every nook and cranny of this place. But now, much of it was occupied by people hhey did not know. So they were forced to treat it politely , like any other house”

Subhadra in an interview to Urvashi about her visit back to home in Pakistan says “i wanted very much to go into what had been my room but i did not have the courage”

Partition did a great damage. But the greatest damage was not murders or the damage to the economics but to this sense of belongingness. A sense of alienation kills everything in a man. It kills him drop by drop and makes him live in the most uncomfortable way. This is the greatest damage done by partition, it appears to me.

I can hear Gulfaam Ali (played by Naseruddin Shah) of the film Sarfarosh screaming at the end of the film “Kisi ko raat-o-raat beghar kar dena gunaah hai, kisi ka sab kuch mithaana gunaah hai” (Making a man homeless overnight, is a crime. Looting a person completely is a crime) Here again this character who is a vistim of partition is speaking of alienation. More than having lost his Darbaar its the loss of the sense of belongingness which didturbs him the most.


Main Apne Hi Ghar Mein Ajnabi Ho Gaya Hun Aa Kar
Mujhe Yahan Dekhkar Meri Rooh Darr Gayi Hai
Saham Ke Sab Aarzuien Kono Mein Jaa Chupi Hai
Laven Sab Bujha Di Hain Apne Chehron Ki, Hasraton Ne
Ki Shauq Pahachaanta Hi Nahi
Muraadei Dahaleez  Hi Pe Sar Rakh Ke Mar Gayi Hai

Main Kis Vatan Ki Talaash Mein Yun Chala Tha Ghar Se
Ki Apne Ghar Mein Bhi Ajnabee Ho Gaya Hun Aa Kar

– Gulzar

22 February 2009

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