There is an old Tamil picture by this name. Bhaga Pirivinai means partition (of inheritance) when siblings go their way breaking the joint family home. Its a heartbreaking thing in most Indian families.
I originally wanted to review the pic ‘Partition 1947.’ It is directed by Gurinder Chadda, whose grandparents lived the nightmare of partition. Inspired by Domini Lapierre’s ‘Freedom at midnight” this story has been retold a million times as we know. So much so that the partition saga to us now has gone stale. Oversold. The same trains set to fire. The mob violence. The bloodshed. The mass migrations. But what really moved me this time was, the dividing of spoons and ladles in the viceroy’s kitchen in Delhi. I almost felt a tear sting my eyes when that went on. Tuba for India, the French horn for Paksitan. That kind of sharing of cutleries and crystals. Tableware and napkins. And even the encyclopedia. I have always viewed the two countries as two different entities, having been born decades after partition. Being a south Indian, you cannot relate to the border ordeals at all. But in that one frame I saw the nations India and Pakistan as one family for the first time. It was heartbreaking. It is always. I have been in a joint family home before we built our own nest. Right now with the empty nest syndrome. I just know how it feels. It wasn’t easy leaving the joint family at all. Yet someday the inevitability has to happen.
Blessed to have family far from the borders. I would ask my grandma how the day of independence was. ‘It was a government holiday, public holiday’ she would tell me flatly! There was a single public radio broadcast in Luz central in Mylapore I believe where the famous Nehru speech that began with the booming words, ‘when the world is fast asleep India will wake upto…..’ blah blah blah, was played at midnight from the Red fort, Delhi. Crowds gathered to listen to it. My family owned a radio I guess so they listened to the speech at home. I don’t clearly remember. I wish I had paid more attention to my gran. She said, sweets were distributed after flag hoisting and singing of some national songs. Not sure if it was our national anthem either. Some patriotic songs sung by locals. After sweet distribution, everyone went home waving flags, she said. She always mentioned to me it was a govt holiday as my grandfather worked for government! Then next day he went to work hahaha! This was how August 15, 1947 unfolded in real life to my family. No partition ripple was ever felt. Thank god there were no social media or mass media and news did not travel miles in seconds. South remained peaceful for that reason. Everybody simply went about their business. My grandpa was a commerce graduate who rode a scooter and who smoked and who loved to dress up in sherwani like a north Indian. He was a looker! Just another day in our family I guess. Only the war times were a bit tense I believe, especially the 1971 one. Even then there were only radio news bulletins nothing more. But nobody liked Jinnah. Yet my people always felt the partition was a blessing in disguise. We always want to remain a Hindu majorioty country and would not want to be defeated by a population jehad. Hindu families have shrunk in size.
I may be secular, democratic with an open mind, yet I know India has a chance only if we are 80-% Hindu majority. Our democracy lies in our demography. I would blame Mountbatten for his hasty plans and exit but I guess he cannot be held totally responsible for whatever happened.
Anyway, present generation couldn’t care less. Our this India of ISRO and Infosys and world CEOs are a making well after 1947. No Mogul can take the credit. Not even the British. I love India the way she is. As headstrong as me hahaha! Proud and defiant!
I don’t regret partition. It is the best thing to have happened to India. This culmination into partition that came after centuries of brutal invasions is a natural progression.
Yet the Bhaga Pirivinai is never easy. It leaves a bitter aftertaste. Years later when you revisit, you still feel the ache and longing in your bones. That is family. The partition trauma will stay with those in the border states.
Btw I had a terrific maternal grandma. Probably she ignited the political interest in me in a young age. Fifth class dropout who could read and write Tamil and English fluently. I remember her reading the book on Kennedy’s assassination. My mother and she were discussing the report. Now in this 2022 I can see what a phenomenal grandma I had. I will prove to be one too to my darling cherrie granddaughter!
PS: Celebrating the good old days in my pink legging today, made in Pakistan 😀