No borders, only bridges

THE write-up ‘He defied borders’ by M.L. Sarin (The Spectrum, Feb 20) invoked a strong sense of deja vu in me. The memories are so distinct, so vivid, and the feeling rather overwhelming that I am unable to contain the temptation of sharing a similar experience. Human nature is the same, irrespective of geographic distances and differences except that it is vitiated by vested interests — generally politicians.

My father, Head, Department of Physiology, King Edward’s Medical College, Lahore, was a much-respected man among his students and colleagues. When Partition took place, he had just six months left to retire from service. On August 14, 1947, it was reluctantly decided that we needed to abandon Lahore due to the deteriorating law and order condition. It was a sudden decision and we had to leave behind everything, except the clothes we were wearing. No public transport was available. With the help of a Muslim medical superintendent, who had provided us with an ambulance at great risk to himself, we were able to reach the Lahore railway station and barely manage to catch the very last train that left Lahore. Reaching Amritsar was replete with terror, an account would require a book to be written.



For nearly six months after Partition, until March 1948, I made several clandestine trips to Lahore to retrieve about six truckloads worth household belongings that we had to leave behind. Our house on Nisbet Road, near Dyal Singh College/Library, was considered a relatively safe place. Relatives too had kept their belongings with us. I was barely 17.

Somehow, I reached Lahore. Muslim refugees, having seen the house unoccupied, had just broken open the main door when I reached. Ironically, help came from a Muslim. It so happened that after Partition, Head of Department of Physiology at Glancy Medical College, Amritsar, a former student and colleague of my father’s had migrated to King Edward Medical College, Lahore, in my father’s place. He was responsible for instigating anti-Hindu riots. Ironically, he was the same man who came to my help at the moment when crowds began swelling outside our house, while I was trying to retrieve household items in some trucks.

The Muslim gentleman came with a friend of his, an Inspector-General of Police, and introduced himself as the man responsible for riots in Amritsar. He warned the crowd that had gathered around that I was like a son to him and that if any harm came to me, people would face dire consequences. He even kept most of our belongings in the safety of his official room in the medical college for nearly six months. I was able to retrieve much of our household goods and bring them back to Amritsar, in private trucks, under extremely difficult circumstances. I was able to visit the then newly created Pakistan when there was neither free nor regular movement of either people (there was no provision of visas) or transportation. I wish to state that common people are fundamentally good at heart. They are made to behave differently by vested interests for their selfish ends.


Not good to be bad

Khushwant Singh, in ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’ (Saturday Extra, Feb 26), has tried in vain to establish the supremacy of the bad over the good. Singh does not correspond to any faith, it is also futile to convince him through religious references.

He has stated that Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Robinhood, Dulla etc. still live in the hearts of masses or even in minds of great people like the writer himself. All those mentioned here are not remembered, glorified or adored for their bad deeds. Those people had also some qualities — lending support to the poor in their area.

Atrocities committed by them are never glorified by any sane person. When Veerappan was killed, everyone was overjoyed to hear the news of his end barring those poverty-stricken people who were benefitted by the forest brigand.

Even bad people do some welfare work for their survival, otherwise locals would not accept their presence in society. The corn needs chaff to protect itself. The ‘bad’ perform some good deeds out of compulsions, while the good perform good deeds without greed for praise. Where have memories of Hitler, Napolean, Lenin, Mussolini, Halaku Khan and Chengiz Khan gone? They are also remembered but with contempt. It was not that they had no virtues but they did more harm than good.

If the learned writer can afford to remember only the bad ones, it reflects his own inclination. He should also be able to see how countless good people are adored or worshipped by millions. This tradition is passed down the generations.



Shades of Black

Shastri Ramachandaran’s well-researched World of Black (Spectrum, March 6) was a treat. Black fired his imagination to look for similar movies made over the years, the world over. The mention of Gulzar’s Koshish brought back memories of the 1960s International Film Festival in New Delhi. In that festival, a Japanese movie Happiness For Us Alone was the front-runner. It was the story of a deaf-mute couple, and how they coped with their disabilities. This movie later became an inspiration for Koshish. Gulzar has a penchant for Indianising foreign themes for the domestic film industry. He beautifully Indianised The Sound of Music and A Love Story by Eric Segal.

R.P. CHADDAH, Chandigarh

National treasures

The article “Pride in National Treasures” by B.N. Goswamy (Spectrum, Feb. 27) describes the Macclesfield Psalter which was bought at a heavy price, to be brought back to its native land, England.

That more than 2,000 donors, other than institutions, contributed wholeheartedly to pay the huge amount to the Getty’s Museum deserves to be appreciated. This is something from which all Indians should learn. If we had demonstrated the same spirit, we would have got back all the precious things carried away from our motherland by different invaders and colonisers.


Superstar pair

This refers to V.Gangadhar’s “Superstars” (Saturday Extra, Feb 5). The trend of casting a popular hero and heroine in a film most probably started during the golden era of Hindi films with Suraiya and Shyam or Suraiya and Dev Anand. It continued with Ashok Kumar and Nalini Jaywant, Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal, Raj Kapoor and Nargis and Rajinder Kumar and Sadhana.

Those days, this trend was also considered as a pet formula for a box-office hit. The craze to see a favourite hit pair in a film is missing in present-day cinema-goers.n

C.R. Jindal, Chandigarh

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