Sunday, February 13, 2011

30 Kms from Amristar, The other side @Wagah Border

I wanted to go there to see what the other side looked like, for a peep through the gates, to confirm if they spoke the truth when they said the people looked like we do, to check if the grass looked the same on either sides, to see for myself if what lay beyond the boundary was not a land drastically different from ours. I wanted to go there to perceive the reason that caused all the madness through the ages, to cry for a moment for those who died in the name of religion turning the green of the rich field into red and the holy water of five rivers into blood. But I failed. I failed because they wanted me to masquerade my curiosity behind the veil of patriotism.

I heard the Pakistani tunes first. It felt like a marriage party, a typical Indian (or Punjabi, if I may say) style wedding reception. It was my favorite Punjabi singer Abrar-ul-haq on the other side. I thought they were playing music so that people on both sides could have fun. I saw the sight of a flag on the other side, a big Pakistani flag held by the people on the stands across the border. I looked at them full of awe I saw some white caps and long beards. I thought for once we were having a cross border party. But then I heard the tunes of an Indian patriotic song with some school girls dancing in the center. I instantly got the joke which was a serious business at that point. The next to come was people shouting from the stands, and loud slogans which were orchestrated by someone running from point to point signaling the crowd to jeer, clap, shout, whistle and sing.

It was all in good fun for the adults, they came, they shouted slogans and went back but there was child in the crowds who on his way back with his parents was singing, “Chak de, Chake de India”. He learnt that evening that Pakistan is a country he must hate and patriotism is about jeering at its people. That is the harm that jingoism of this sort does.

I wish the flags go down one evening and never rise back again, I wish that the gates open and never close down again, I wish I leave from Delhi and end my drive at Lahore one day to see the sun set on the beautiful land where my ancestors belong. I wish I could call the land that my grandparents were driven away from mine once again.

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