What can you tell me about Pakistan
India and PakistanTwo women fight against oblivion
"I was once with children from Pakistan in a school in New Delhi, India. The teacher there wanted to put garlands around them and paint a red dot on their foreheads, a tika. This is a Hindu symbol. The children started to cry and asked if this would make them Hindus. On a visit to Mumbai, India, a six-year-old child asked me in a school: Where are you from? When I said Pakistan, it ran away. "
Anam Zakaria could tell many more stories of prejudice, hatred and demarcation. The 28-year-old has led exchange projects between Pakistani and Indian schools, she met hundreds of contemporary witnesses from the time of the Indian division and wrote a book about them. Anam wants her homeland, Pakistan, to start working through its own history.
"People soak up the state version of the story. Even contemporary witnesses filter what they tell us about back then. They adapt it to the state version, according to which the Hindus and Sikhs in particular were the murderers. My own grandmother only ever had me told of the atrocities of the others. Of the trains that came from India, laden with the corpses of murdered Muslims. I later found out by chance that her own sister was rescued by an Indian family at the time.
Fathers threw daughters into wells to protect them
Mallika Ahluwalia supervises the last work in the "Partition Museum" in Amritsar, India. Here, the 34-year-old shows countless documents and valuables that refugees had with them at the time and made them available to her. There is a memorial - a well. Desperate fathers threw daughters into wells in 1947 so that they would not fall into the hands of enemy mobs. Mallika wants to open this week. So far, your project is unique in India.
"Every other country is reminiscent of history. Holocaust, apartheid, even the 9/11 attacks are already being remembered. The division of India has shaped an entire subcontinent and the lives of so many people. And yet nobody has remembered it . But the people who suffered the trauma at the time deserve to be remembered. "
Mallika Ahluwalia's museum project got around in Pakistan too. Anam Zakaria's book on the partition is also selling well in India. But the enmity between the two states is still livelier than ever, Anam Zakaria knows that too. The younger generation is often more radical in their hostility to India than those who saw the partition in 1947 themselves.
"People want to get rid of the burden of memory"
Can a museum, exchange projects and a bestseller do at least a little to bring Indians and Pakistani closer together? Anam Zakaria is very skeptical about this.
"Well. It's actually frustrating. Our options are so limited. I can work with five thousand students and influence them. That's an impressive number. But at the same time there are millions of other children who go to government schools and those official textbooks It's actually not just frustrating. When you talk to these children about India or about religious minorities here in Pakistan, it actually scares me a lot. "
On the Indian side, Mallika Ahluwalia wants to save as much as possible from the history of division. Mallika says she could have taken the time for her project. But it was important to her to open the museum in Amritsar now.
"Now people want to talk, now they have enough distance, you can really tell that they want to talk, that they want to get rid of this burden of memory. If we don't listen to them now, their stories will be gone."
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