Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Age of Kali

These days I am reading this book called "The age of Kali" from William Dalrymple.  I have always loved his books, because there is so many things about history that I am not even aware of.  I also like the way he intervenes personal stories with historical facts making it very interesting read.

There are so many things that we lost due to partition of India, and we hardly know anything except that there were roits and thousands of people were killed. But also so much of culture and so many cities were lost and overnight were turned in to refugee camps.  He writes about this particular story about this guy from Lucknow, who owns a haveli in Lucknow, which is right now in ruins and his story in his words goes as follows, 

"We belonged to one of the rich families in Lucknow and at that time it was a very prosperous city. It was full of havelis and magnificent buildings, markets smelled of "scents" and delicious kababs. It was a city of poets, art  and even poor people spoke such good urdu. Lucknow'is were known for their etiquettes and manners. But overnight during the partition everything changed, havelis were burnt down, known faces disappeared, refugees appeared. Nothing remained same as before. 

As far as my personal life goes, it also changed a lot. My father was a close friend, helper and subordinate of people working in Muslim league. But he never visualized what partition could bring about. And after partition he could never forgive himself, and he went off and stayed in London, he did not have the heart of returning to either place because he thought that in some ways he was responsible for bringing suffering in so many people lives. My mother stayed here in lucknow in this haveli, but then during 1965, this haveli was seized by government, because my father no longer being an Indian citizen this haveli was seen as enemy property. This was occupied by various government offices and they plundered and looted it. My mother did not give up, and stayed here outside in the veranda for two years. Finally the haveli was handed over to her in the ruined state and that is how it is right now"

Now when I went to Lucknow during the Jagriti yatra, I could see it as full of cycle rickshaws and dirty and in middle of all this old buildings that perhaps some day were beautiful.

I wonder why wont they put such stories in school books, they give such a nice picture of what happened and probably it would make everyone realize that all this narrow minded ness about religion, languages can take us nowhere and we would end up losing so much. Sometimes I wonder with all this ram sena and shiv sena and all kinds of mujahideens, if we are going forward or going back wards.

PS: Read the book if you can get hold of it. 


Roy said...

exactly my sentiments, such books would make history in school so much more interesting. If you liked this one I recommend empires of the indus as well.

Sejal said...

where do you get hold of such books from?

I finished 'Fine Balance'!! I bet you got what I'm thinking now ;-)

Hope to get his one asap from you (of course after you are finished reading!)