The Partition

The Partition is known to be the world’s largest mass migration, displacing 14 million people and killing another million. Following the British Raj’s withdrawal from undivided India in August 1947, the Radcliffe Line was drawn between the newly independent nations of India and Pakistan. The task of demarcating the boundary between India and Pakistan was given to a British lawyer, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who had, in fact, never been to India, or anywhere else in Asia, and was not familiar with the demographics of India. Radcliffe knew the consequences of the line he had made. He never visited Pakistan or India again and destroyed all his notes leading up to this map. 

The effects of the Partition still remain today. I say this because the South Asian diaspora continues to carry the traumas of the Partition. Some have lost loved ones, while other Kashmiris like myself, are suffering the consequences of an occupied homeland. My poem is an attempt to deal with the melancholy associated with the Partition. My poem will follow the shape of the Radcliffe line. I intentionally utilize this shape because I believe those who experienced the Partition, including the South Asian diaspora, have a personal and bittersweet relationship with this line. I want my poem to settle there and sit there as it is a homage to my identity, confusion, and grief.

. . .


The Partition

I don’t know who I am or where I am from. 

I think this is what hurts most. Not knowing. 

My identity is scattered somewhere between the dividing line. 

And so I’ve learned to carry the wounds of 1947 with me everywhere I go. 

Oh Allah, tell me who I am? 

The colonizers have robbed me of my identity!

I safeguard  the blood of mamoo and khala, but also the family I never

got to know. 

My heart is matted with their red ink and partition stories. 

The corpses in Punjab haunt me as I walk around a city I can’t call mine. 

These bodies, neither Hindu nor Muslim. Just flesh and skin.

Punctured in my mind forever, 

I make room for them near the margins of my journal. 

I consume the genocides of Kashmir, in hopes to knit together what I lost.

But what did I lose? I can never answer this accurately. 

In between these borders, I am lost. 

As I learn the truth about my history, pieces of me blend into the syntax. 

Ammi says I’ve gone mad because I no longer weep. 

I smile in photos but burn while I prostrate to my Rabb. 

I hold on to my tasbih a little tighter and pray for the wounds to heal. 

Surely, my Lord listens as my dua reaches Him.

“Be and it Is.” [Quran, Surah Yasin, Verse 82]

Maliya Naz

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