Who’s this Radcliffe guy anyway? (Virsā Artwork inspired by this story: Purana Qila - The Old Fort)

1947 Phulkari Camps Anecdotal Encounters Phulkari Punjab Punjab Handicrafts Rural Artisans Stories that inspired these Artworks Textiles The Partition of India Women's Empowerment

Purana Qila Refugee Camp, September 1947.

My mother had taught me how to sew, I told them, so they would accept me in the sewing group. Well, the honest truth is I was too little and I used to watch her use the *Charkha and spin khaddar and then color it and embroider upon it with silken pat. She wanted me to learn and become the best embroiderer in our *Pind. All this until that tranquil, simple life was shorn away to bits by these politicians. The Radcliffe Line does not determine where my village started and where it ended – it will not, it cannot…ever! Who was this Radcliffe guy anyway? Did he really understand who we were? Or, if we couldn’t co-exist peacefully as Hindu, Sikh and Muslim like we had for centuries? My questions, I am told, are empty rhetoric. This is it. This refugee camp, this tin-shelter is my home now. This Phulkari group is my home now. We sew our tears away; we (try to) sing together – well, some of us just cry silent tears. So many stories inside those eyes, lives lost, the meaning of the terms “*ghar, *pind, *mulk” lost – forever. We try to bring together the *Trinjan but we know the spirit and soul of those songs will need nurturing for a long, long time! For now we sew, with every darning stitch, with every flower sewn (or sown), with every sequin strung into the hand spun cotton – I try to stitch together pieces of my life, try to heal wounds and try to look into a future when one day I might have a home again and a family to call my own. For now, I take a walk every evening to the top of the *Qila, feel the breeze in my hair and pretend I am the *Shehzaadi of Dilli – my Phulkari scarf is my tiara…its sequins glimmering in the moonlight.

 

 

*Charkha: Spinning Wheel; *Pind: Village; *Ghar: Home; *Mulk: Country; *Trinjan: A group of women would get together to do Phulkari & sing folksongs. Trinjans were very negatively impacted by the riots that ensued post the Partition of India *Qila: Fort; *Shehzaadi: Princess


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