I have been visiting Punjab since I was born. In fact, I was born in Jalandhar, as my paternal family belongs to that district. By birth I am a Punjabi, but not having lived there, I do not speak the language and understand the culture’s nitty gritty’s the way my cousins and the extended family would, but my parents did the best they could to imbibe in me the culture and knowledge passed on by my ancestors. Being born in a family who was on the move in regular intervals, I have always had a natural inclination towards learning about different cultures, their food, their literature and their music. While doing so, one comes to realise how different and yet similar we are to one another.
As someone who always thought of herself as a storyteller first and then a journalist, I realised that what was amiss in me was the connect to my own roots. The question, “where are you from?” has always bothered me because I have never an answer for that. I have grown up in multiple cities amongst people who belong to different states of India, We’ve celebrated every festival and yet my knowledge of Baisakhi and Lohri was negligible…my connect to my apparent roots was negligible.
What triggered this feeling was reading the book The Remnants of a Separation by Aanchal Malhotra, where she explores the India-Pakistan partition through material memories, and what follows is the most beautiful novel with multiple narratives by people from each side of the border recalling what partition meant to them…what “apni mitti” meant to them. It is then when it struck me that my own late grandparents had come to India as refugees from Pakistan and along with them had carried a wealth of memories and knowledge…knowledge which is now lost, with them gone. This sprung me into action and tickets to Jalandhar were booked for June 2018. What was meant to be a vacation for my family, was a soul searching trip for me, where I wanted to talk, explore, document and connect to my roots…something I should’ve done long back.
Through a series of blogs that will follow, I will take you all on a detailed journey of my trip to Punjab and all that followed. Stay tuned!
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