Our vision for the Winterline Journal is to provide a forum for building community among those of us who were born and/or raised in India and Pakistan. It is a way to reminisce, share our stories & love for these two countries and cultures with one another. At times this may touch on the sensitive issue of political and/or religious loyalties.
The following email discussion between one of our FTW readers and my father is such a discussion:
My dear Stan,
…I would want that your love for India be not besmirched with your infatuation with Pak. After the success with Attenborough’s Gandhi [film], Pakis wanted to have Jinnah and the role model was most appropriately played by someone who was known for his Dracula [screen play] role. The result was disastrous. Jinnah’s movie was banned [even]in Pak itself.
I sensed in your letter and either/or imperative, that one must either love India and hate Pakistan, or vice versa. Forgive me if I wrongly impute this feeling on your part. I have dear friends on both sides of the border and strong family ties in both countries. You know what my India roots are. The Pakistan roots were nourished by a decade of residence in Lahore in the 1950s and early 60s when I was on the faculty of Forman Christian College, one of the premier institutions of the old Lahore and the new, and the University of the Panjab where I lectured in American history in the M.A. program.
My daughters, Cynthia and Victoria, grew up there and have fond memories of wonderful times in the local and international communities of Lahore. As I say in the dedication of my book, “Farewell The Winterline” their Khargpur is Lahore!
I was there to witness the genuine excitement stirred up by Pandit Nehru when he visited Lahore to sign the Canal Waters Treaty. I was there when the Indian cricket team came for a three-day match and the border was opened to Indian visitors holding four-day permits… the first such event since [partition and] Independence. My students requested, and received, permission to go down to the Railway Station to see the trains come in. “Sir, we have never seen Sikhs!” Can you imagine, in the birth province of Guru Nanak.
The Indian visitors were treated as national guests. Bus drivers, taxi drivers, tongawalas, chaiwalas…no one took any money for their services. At the College a distinguished academic visitor from Amritsar addressed the assembled students in Panjabi and brought down the house. The first time any of them had heard Panjabi in a formal academic context.
That was then. This is now, post India-Pakistan wars, post the birth of Bangladesh and many unfortunate political developments that have left Pakistan at a loss.
my love is for persons, for friends and colleagues, not for political systems or nations or any particular organized religious institutions. I know that we can’t exist in this world as state-less persons disconnected from society and the institutions that make life possible. And that some times cicumstances force us to choose. But I refuse to internalize these identities as barriers to the wider human community.
…I fully agree with your arguments why you can love our western neighbour without offending us [Indian nationals]. But on second thought I find that it is only proper that you should write on your Pak experience. The ruins of Mahenjodaro, the KII, the port city of Karachi which became out of bounds for us will be revisted thru the pages of your book. I wish your endeavour all success.