Lest we forget…

The Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 saw massive migration, as well as the slaughter of at least half a million on both sides of the border. No one has a count of the women raped or orphans created. Despite being the single most cataclysmic event in the modern history of Southasia – arguably in the world – there has been no collective catharsis, and not a single memorial to mark the human tragedy of Partition. Sixty years after the event, Himal thought it high time to visualise a memorial that would help us remember the anguish, but also to move beyond. Here we present artist Venantius J Pinto's renditon of two such potential monuments. We welcome more contributions, which will be carried in forthcoming issues. Pinto describes his visions as follows:

At Atari-Wagah, the long-standing border-crosing between India and Pakistan, the infinity loop suggests that what happened during Partition can never truly be erased. The two tall, double columns would enclose geometries of shapes, including old parts scavenged from trains and rails, at complex angles and abrupt juxtapositions. The spheres would be inscribed with poetry in Gurmukhi, Urdu and Hindi.  

The second monument covers a larger area. It shows clusters of people in some places; in others, just the lone individual. These human-esque forms would be made of concrete, with mosaics of metal and porcelain embedded in them. They would have a somewhat unfinished feel. The incomplete arcs would carry testimonies – in Urdu, written in the Nataliq script; in Hindi Nagri; in Punjabi, written in Landa and Gurmukhi; and in English. The arcs would disappear into the ground, but visitors would be able to discern the trajectory and continuity of the arcs that are not visible, until they reappeared someplace else.


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Himal Southasian