It really breaks my heart to write this, but Nazmuddin Khan sahib, on whom I wrote a chapter (probably my favourite one) in Remnants, is no more. Born in 1929 in Delhi's Hauz Rani, he passed away just short of 92 years. 1/
We didn't meet often, but when we did, he called me Munni. He was the first person to make me realize that my work was not merely on objects or Partition, but rather on identity and belonging. True belonging to land and home and soil; a belonging for the living and the dead. 2/
While working on his chapter, there were things I was confronted with that I’d never thought of before - things that made me feel small, made me question my privilege, my safety, and the lived difference between nationalism, patriotism and fanaticism. 3/
He may have been an ordinary person who lived an ordinary life, but the lessons from that life were extraordinary and I hope his words reach the far corners of the world to help us become more empathetic and accepting humans. This is his legacy, his hopeful heart. 4/
If you've read his chapter in Remnants -This Bird of Gold, My Land -The Hopeful Heart of Nazmuddin Khan- then you know he was masterful in his memories. If you haven't, then I will tell you that he peppers our conversation with his childhood, stories of going to Viceroy House 5/
. . . where his father worked, watching Jinnah sahib cruise through the streets in his convertible, how Partition riots engulfed Delhi, and why his family decided not to leave India. But what has stayed me the most is this short excerpt on a land for all its people - 6/
"‘Our Hindu brothers,’ he began, ‘are born in Hindustan, they grow up here, live their lives here, they die here. And when they die, they are cremated and their ashes are immersed into holy waters of the river Ganga. Within her tides they flow, even if it is eventually into.." 7/
"...foreign waters. But look at us Musalmaans...we are born in Hindustan, we grow up here, we live here and we die here. And when we die, we are buried deep into the ground and, eventually, when our bodies decompose, we become one with the land. We become Hindustan.’" 8/
This is the hopeful heart of Nazmuddin Khan sahib, and how he will forever be remembered by me. 9/9

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More from @AanchalMalhotra

27 Aug 20
In my work, I often write how the house of the past is perceived to be more beautiful than the house of the present - one filled with longing and memory. It is not unusual to come across interviewees who physically inhabit this belief. This is a thread on a house of the past 1/
Exactly four years ago, I witnessed something that sprouted in my heart an unavoidable and insatiable yearning to be able to physically move someone from India and take them to their childhood home in what was known as Mintgumri (now Sahiwal) in Pakistan. 2/
Stories about the past -particularly a traumatic one dealing with the 1947 Partition - begin either in indifference, silence, nostalgia or sadness. This began in tears. So suddenly and quietly in a way that nor I, or anyone sitting around us could do anything. 3/
Read 7 tweets
14 Aug 20
As someone who writes about Independence and the 1947 Partition all year round, the month of August feels particularly strange, despite its commemorative status, and the feeling inside my heart on the two historic days - 14th and 15th - is uniquely hollow. A thread 1/
These dates weigh on me, as they may also weigh on those who lived through them in 1947. I find myself wondering, year after year, do the people who witnessed Partition celebrate life and freedom, or mourn the price they paid for that freedom, or do both? 2/
I don’t know, but perhaps this is a question I should include in my interviews henceforth. But I wish that in the zealous way in which we celebrate the independence of the conjoined twins India and Pakistan, we could also celebrate the life they shared before August 1947. 3/
Read 7 tweets
11 Jan 20
The original front page of The Daily Milap newspaper from April 12, 1931, featuring the two Gandhis of Undivided India - Mahatma Gandhi and Gandhi of Frontier. 1/
In 1923, Arya Samaji Lala Kushal Chand started an Urdu daily out of Lahore called Milap, which quickly became the largest circulated Urdu newspaper, known for its powerful nationalistic editorials. It also published Fikr Taunsvi's famed 27-year long ‘Kaagaz ke Chhilke' column. 2/
During Partition, riots in Lahore lead to mobs raiding the offices of Milap, and burning machines and stacks of newspaper. Reports claim that the office was closed for six weeks, after one of its employees was stabbed. 3/
Read 6 tweets
5 Sep 19
Pran Nevile sahab once told me about #BhaionKiDukaan, most famous in all of Anarkali bazar apparently since the Mughal era for making oils, perfumes and scents 1/
When I met him just weeks before his death, with an air of great romance, he claimed that any one of the Bhaion ki dukaan fragrances could win the hearts of a "beau" or a "belle". For this it was famous not only in Lahore shehr but also the whole of Punjab 2/
When speaking of Lahore, he always had that faraway look in his eyes. The city of his birth, the city of my dreams, humara Lahore. He constantly asked me why I was so drawn to it, and quoting that it was also the city of my ancestors, I'd smile the question to an end each time 3/
Read 6 tweets

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