Thursday, May 8, 2008

Memories of Independence Days

Today is the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence. Alon has a very nice post on the occasion, describing what his father did on the day Israel gained independence. In reading that post, I was reminded of the story of another friend's father's memory of Indian independence.

My friend's father and his family lived in Lahore (in present day Pakistan). Being Hindu, when news of independence and the partition of India and Pakistan arrived, it was clear that they had to flee Lahore. But how to flee safely---atrocities were being committed in the name of religion. Turns out that they had a loyal Muslim driver who offered to drive them across the border. So the whole family hid in the back of a lorry (truck) and the Muslim driver drove it toward the border. Along the way a mob stopped the lorry and asked to search the back for fleeing Hindus. But the driver stared down the mob, using his own religious persuasion to convince the mob that there was no need to look in the back. Fortunately, the mob let the lorry go without a search and they escaped to India. My friend's father went on to become a very senior government official in India.

For a powerful dramatization of Lahore right before and during independence, I strongly recommend the movie 1947 Earth starring Aamir Khan and Nandita Das. It's a story told through the eyes of a little Parsi girl growing up in Lahore (the Parsis were viewed as being neutral in the Hindu-Muslim conflict). Aamir Khan is absolutely amazing and the climactic scene in the movie haunts me to this day.

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