by Padmini Jha
Was it a shock? Or, was it a surprise? I’m still confused. I feel as if, I was witnessing a beautiful dream – a dream without barriers, hatred and violence but friendship, love and peace.
No! It wasn’t a dream. Yes, no. No, it wasn’t. I’m still in a fix. I saw something I never had imagined or thought. Yet, it was happening in front of my eyes: the event gave me goose bumps throughout.
Yes, the event – a combined celebration of ‘Independence Day of Pakistan and India’ under one roof of the South Asian University along with other South Asian Countries. Hitherto, we have been listening and observing the terrible stories and the fearful realities happening between India and Pakistan. But, this event expressed neither negative feelings nor feelings of revenge for the violence both the countries had to suffer in the past. Here, both – students of India and Pakistan – celebrated their Independence Day on the same stage. It is well said where there is a will there’s a way. Anything and everything is possible if you want to make it possible. What could be the best example where students from Pakistan and India celebrated their Independence Day altogether within an amiable and peaceful environment.
It was 11 pm when the students from Pakistan, dressed in the colour combination of white and green, started their programme to celebrate their Independence Day. The presentation made by them showed their love and patriotism for their country. They started the programme with the song “Dil Dil Pakistan, Jaan jaan Pakistan” and finished it with their national anthem. Pakistani students also showed the documentary including minute details of their country from their history to the contemporary times. Nowhere, they tried to show the superiority to all South Asian Students. Again, they did not leave a chance to praise the beauty and culture of their country. It was an enthralling presentation: a one hour programme organised by them was so graceful and mesmerising that we all South Asians were lost in the event.
At midnight, the day of pride and honour, the day of celebration and of memories “15th August”. The event was handed over to Indian students after the celebration of the Pakistan’s Independence Day. The Indian students started their event with the song “Saare jahan se Accha Hindustan humara”. An overwhelming opening dazzled the eyes of all other South Asian students present there. All the Indian students in their colourful dresses were complimenting the aura of the day. The slideshow presentation with a background music representing the Indian art, culture and the exotic beauty with the touch of tradition seemed to evoke a sense of national pride. The event took a new turn when some of the Indian students recited poems and speech on the relationship of Pakistan and India. A beautiful poem by a scholar left us with no words from its extreme in depth understanding of the bond between the two countries. He expressed the good relations between the two countries and presented it as there’s no boundary line, no gap but all of us are at home where mother calls from the kitchen to have a sip of tea. Thus, the program consisted of numerous manifestations of poem and speeches leaving a feeling of patriotism on all of us. Along with poems and speeches we heard patriotic songs from the students which were added up to the fervour of the day. Thereafter, last but not the least, the event got toward its end with the singing of the national anthem of India.
Towards the end of the event, a touch of national integrity was added with the presence of south Asian students.
Lastly, the host of the event requested the President of South Asian University to speak on the celebration of Independence Day of both Pakistan and India together. We were surprised to know that our President is a Pakistani. Later, he also added that he is 49% Pakistani and 51% Indian or vice versa because he was born in Pakistan and lived in India for long. After disclosing this fact he said that he had been the victim of the violence in Pakistan when he was a child. He elaborated by saying ‘though I was so small, l never felt any aggression inside myself. Neither, I thought of taking revenge with those people who killed my relatives in front of my eyesight. Simultaneously, I moved to India with my parents for safety reasons. For a second time, I saw the same violence in a new shifted place as well and couldn’t find any difference because people over there were also the victim of the same violence as in Pakistan’.
He was very happy to participate in the event organised for the first time and we all heard him speaking for the first time in ‘Urdu’. With some nostalgic memories, he moved ahead adding few “sher-o-shayari” in his speech. Remarkable representation of every single word he uttered on the day was beyond our imagination. He wholeheartedly appreciated the initiative taken by the students for the combined celebration of the Independence Day of Pakistan and India. All of us were glad to be the part of it both as an audience and as students of South Asian University where there is such unity and lovely attitude to promote and flourish the friendship between the two countries.
Being a Nepali, a country which shares neighbourhood relation, I could not resist myself to voice my feelings for the event. It was pleasure to have such an experience in the South Asian Sphere among South Asians. A well-organized and oriented program was something beyond the followed and practiced norms while talking about the countries like India and Pakistan. Joining hands and sharing the bond of not abhorrence but peace and friendship was seen, felt and experienced for the first time during the event. It gave all of us a new hope to proceed with optimism and spread the message of a sensible and a peaceful amalgamation of exclusively a new foundation.
photo credit: Padmini Jha