Delhi by heart, In An Antique Land
Another review on my book “Delhi By Heart” appeared in Outlook Magazine India.
By Venky Vembu
In his novel The Shadow Lines, Amitav Ghosh writes of the imagined cartographic lines that divide people in the Indian subcontinent and cleave their souls. Many of these “shadow lines” are etched in bitter, hand-me-down memories and imaginations, and for that reason are rather more indelible than lines on a map, which can perhaps be redrawn over time.
Indians and Pakistanis may have shared a civilisational bhai-bhai bonhomie, but the horrors of Partition, compounded by decades of mutual mistrust at the political level, have served to ensure that, outside of the world of the mom batti wallas at the Wagah border, there is little interest in knowing each other beyond a demonisation of ‘the other’.
As Pakistani writer and development professional Raza Rumi observes in this account of his travels to Delhi, although he himself is decidedly of the post-Partition generation, he was born into “textbook nationalism” and grew up in a milieu that conditioned him to resent India. But Rumi’s own family history is illustrative of the interwoven strands of subcontinental social history. His Hindu ancestors from Lahore were on a pilgrimage to Benares when their caravan was looted. They were offered shelter in the khanqah of a wandering Sufi dervish, and were drawn by his magnetism to embrace Islam.
Read full review on my blog “Delhi By Heart“