by Kathleen Mulligan
I have always been deeply curious about the stories of my family history and the lives of the people who came before me. That curiosity, combined with a deepening love for the subcontinent, inspired the first seeds of the idea for a Voices of Partition project while David and I were in Islamabad on Fulbright grants in 2013. I ran my idea by Rob Raines at the U.S. embassy, and he suggested that I might want to meet with members of Theatre Wallay. Rob helped us arrange a meeting at Café Mocha with Fizza Hasan and Safeer Khan. As I rather awkwardly began to explain the project I had in mind, Fizza started nodding with enthusiasm. “We have to get these stories now, before it is too late and they are lost to us forever” she said. At that moment I knew I had found our partner for this project.
There have been many chapters of this story since that day: grant application submissions and rewrites, Skype sessions and emails, frustration, anxiety, elation, and awe. And this story is not over. After our opening in Islamabad, our tribute to the survivors of partition will tour to Lahore, followed by my home institution of Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. I still can’t quite believe what has come out of that one meeting in Kohsar market.
The story of Partition is not my story. But I am deeply honored to have a hand in preserving the accounts of ordinary people like you and me who lived through that struggle. Hearing their stories, and sharing them with you, is one of the greatest privileges of my life.