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to the border and back

Last weekend, Naina, Sukrat, and I traveled to the border city of Amritsar. Though we thoroughly enjoyed our chance meetings with a self-proclaimed saint, Sant, a Frenchman, and a group of proud Indian grad students, each stop was marked by sorrow.
We began at Jallianwala Bagh, a garden that was the site of a 1919 massacre of Indians. British troops fired on the crowd that had gathered to commemorate the religious new year, leading to people throwing themselves into a well to escape the relentless fire of bullets. After a lunchtime intermission at the Langar Canteen at the Golden Temple where meals are offered free of cost to anyone, we continued to the Indo-Pak border crossing known as the Wagah Border. The atmosphere was festive, replete with music, dancing, and cheering. Only after my initial excitement did I realize that the crowd was also jeering at the Pakistanis across the border. Indian soldiers held back the crowd of rowdy boys quickly becoming vengeful men. We left early, sad to see hatred propagated. Our final destination, the Golden Temple, has its own horrid history dating back only to 1984. Then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, ordered Indian troops to invade the Sikh temple where suspected terrorists had been hiding. Gandhi's Sikh bodyguard assassinated the PM shortly thereafter which led to anti-Sikh rioting in Delhi, resulting in the deaths of up to 4,000 innocent Sikhs.
So where does that leave us now? For me, these visits served as a reminder that the world we live in today faces very real threats to peace. Whether religiously-based like the attacks on Sikhs and, more recently, attacks on churches in Orissa, or racially-based like the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and, more recently, Darfur and now Chad, when will it end? How can we enable an end to grievous devastation and heart ache? I pray that we examine our hearts to determine how to promote righteousness.


april said...

Thank God for you. (Thank God you pulled yourself out of our corporate blackhole to find meaning in the world.)

I was a Salman Rushdie devotee in college, and I've always been curious about the historical accuracy of 'Midnight's Children.' Are you familiar with that at all?

SHiNE said...

In my attempts to prepare myself for this trip (and may I add there was nothing that could have adequately prepared me for this!), I began Midnight's Children and never finished it. But the influence of Britain and lingering bitterness is very real, in my experience.