Home, Uprooted: Oral Histories of India's Partition

By Devika Chawla | Go to book overview

SIX
Hearth Crossings

I walk down the stairs from my study on the second level of my house in Ohio and step into the living room. I pause, as I often do, in front of the painting Mataji and wonder who she is, where she is from, and what she is thinking. Does she miss her home in Pakistan? Is she reminiscing or is she in mourning? In my mind, Biji and Mataji have become one person. Not an entirely implausible morphing, because Mataji is certainly a composite visual representation of an older-generation female Partition refugee. She is the grandmother I knew as a child. She is the sum of many of the grandmothers of my generation. Her melancholy echoes a sort of national nostalgia for the past that was. At the same time, one does not know and is not told whether she is a Partition widow or whether she is an abandoned and abducted woman who is living in an ashram because she has nowhere else to go. It is just easier to assume that Mataji shares parallels to my Biji. It is plausible, however, that she was one among many unlucky women who were used as weapons, targets, and instruments of war in the communal riots that coincided with Partition.

-148-

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Home, Uprooted: Oral Histories of India's Partition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • One - Beginnings—In HeadNotes 1
  • Two - Fieldwork/Homework 8
  • Three - A Story Travels 35
  • Four - Home outside Home 62
  • Five - Adrift- Reluctant Nomads 96
  • Six - Hearth Crossings 148
  • Seven - Remnants 180
  • Eight - My Father, My Interlocutor 201
  • Glossary 227
  • Notes 229
  • Bibliography 253
  • Index 265
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