The idea of a creative project on the Partition has always been close to my heart. Born into a family of people who migrated in 1947, my father’s family from Panipat, and my mother’s from Meerut, I grew up listening to stories of the Partition. Accounts of the aristocratic life in Panipat, of the house with a pond, of grandfathers heartbroken at leaving what they called home, of the journey across the border with an army convoy, of my uncle’s journey by train disguised as a Hindu, of blood in drains and burning cities, partition stories formed part of the repertoire of tales we heard as children.
Over the last few years, I had felt the need to preserve these stories for coming generations, a feeling that would grow every time one of these story tellers would leave our world for the next. But I didn’t quite know how to go about it. This desire was not mine alone; several other members of Theatre Wallay felt exactly the same way.
When I met Kathleen for the first time, and she talked about a project on the partition that she was interested in doing, I knew that I had found direction. A couple of years later, here we are.
The journey of this project has been emotionally trying, and yet extremely fulfilling at the same time. We have found ourselves listening to people in a way we have never done before, we have questioned our lives, our beliefs, our systems, our perceptions. It has been a quest; a search for roots and identity, for answers and an understanding of events that shaped and continue to mould our lives even today, a search for justification and closure, and for a way ahead.
We now feel that we have, at least partially, repaid a debt to our ancestors. “Dagh Dagh Ujala” is dedicated to all those who lived through these traumatic times. In particular, it is dedicated to my father, who has never forgotten his beloved Panipat, and to my maternal grandfather, who was so heartbroken at leaving his home that he never went back. Abba and Baba, this one’s for you.