1947 - India became independent from Britain and was divided into the countries of India and Pakistan. 1961- 2 days after sealing off free passage between East and West Berlin with barbed wire, East German authorities begin building a wall–the Berlin Wall–to permanently close off access that lasts for 28 years. 1969- Woodstock Music & Art Fair, considered one of the most organic music festival to date opens on a Dairy Farm. 2016- One the eve of its 70th Independence day, a girl from the North Eastern state of India, is the fourth best gymnast in the world, missing the bronze by a mere .15 points.
Creation of a nation, beginning of a Cold War, an event that will never ever be replicated and a woman who creates history, all on this day that year.
The question of identity and the default setting on this rule enters my mind on this 70th Independence Day.
This blog post will be read by Indians living in countries far from home, and also by those who belong to many other countries. The world is our oyster today, giving us access to fellow humans defined by different tags or countries. Each tag comes with its own merits and a few disadvantages.
You can take a quiz online: which country are you meant to live in?
Would that be a real choice in the future?
If this was speculative fiction, then this is what I would imagine the future as:
The world would be divided not by countries that you belonged to by birth, but maybe by regions defined by a vision. One region defined by culture that was a celebration of music, dance, the arts; one by industry, where great inventions, machines and futuristic gadgets were created and innovated, one by spirituality, where the search of self and awareness would be the central theme; one region for experiencing nothingness, spending time lazing around, understanding slowness and may one for violence, where aggression and brutality was strife and many more.
Each individual would be allowed only 5 years in every region, and would need to move to another region to contribute, nurture and grow.
But human nature cannot be changed all together, and thus within each region, would be grooming centers that would get you ready to transit into another region, touts who would promise a spot in the prized regions and few rebels who would refuse to leave their regions after the stipulated period.
Would their be a quiz or a Hunger Games like competition that would allocate regions to its citizens?
Does it sound too utopian an idea to work?
Maybe this is just an experiment in re-imagination.
As I sit here on my desk, using the luxury of a free nation to dream up this Utopia, I think of the nation-less, living in refugee camps, with no nation to call their own, with no land, no roots and no sense of belonging. The 10 individuals who participated in the Olympics under the refugee team come to mind, as do the millions displaced from their place of birth, who are now looking for an identity, often shunned and looking for hope in a bleak future ahead.
Dedicated to the 2 countries, India and Pakistan who came into existence on this day in 1947 when a line was drawn across and the familiar became inaccessible, is this week’s poem.
Kuch Din Pehle
Kuch din pehle….
Pakistan mein Baba* rehte the,
Lahore bara apna lagta tha.
Akhri baar awaaz suni thi Baba ki,
‘Garmi hai, Is Baarish ho jaye to theek ho jayega
Saans dame main ghutne lagti hai!’
Saans hi thodh di baba ne
Koi nahi ab sheher mein apna
Lahore ab sirf padosi hai!!
Some Days Ago
By Pavan Varma
Some time ago,
Baba* used to live in Pakistan;
Lahore seemed to be part of myself.
The last time I heard his voice, He said:
“Its hot, one rain and all will be well,
Its so suffocating to breathe with this asthma!”
But Baba, you gave up the breath!
Now no one is my own in the city
Lahore, is now just a neighbor.
*Baba: The celebrated Urdu Poet Ahmed Nadim Qasimi.