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Beholds The Dream

About Sohaina JElia

Sohaina Elia works as Asst. Prof. (visiting) for Fine Arts (Print Making) at National College of Arts, Rawalpindi. She has worked as Manual Artist, with Tehrik-e- Niswan, Karachi. Having completed her MFA (Printmaking) from Punjab University, she has designed jackets for books, worked with the creative teams of organizations and Publication Houses, conducted Summer Camps at Alliance Française de Karachi on art, craft and clay work. In 2013, she contributed 5 prints to a fundraising campaign in USA for a Hospital, sold at an Art Gallery in Atlanta, USA. She attended 2nd & 3rd International SPIC MACAY Convention 2014 & 2015 at IIT Madras and IIT Bombay for Contemporary Art and Cheriyal Saw – Mask making, respectively. Sohaina is an ardent fan of classical music. She loves to write, she is an explorer of nature, and travelling is her passion.

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The rebellious, unconventional Chamak was out, travelling during the month of Ramazan. Eid was just round the corner. She was wandering in the woods of North, exploring the flora and fauna, beautiful plains and places almost 1000 feet above the sea level; enjoying her solitude with a bunch of like-minded people. She had no worries whether the clothes were stitched or what shoes she would wear; she was rather happy with herself. Eating, dancing, singing, loving, exploring, laughing, she felt close to the beauty of nature.
What was she trying to find? Was she looking for answers to specific questions or has she been like this all along?
Well, nobody really understood Chamak but her Nanma.
She was actually missing Nanma on this crazy trip of fourteen days. It started from Rawalpindi and was about to end at Karachi; in-between there were so many beautiful halts in Naran, Hunza, Skardu and Swat. At Karen, Kashmir, when the Indian Kashmir was visible just a few miles away, she had mixed feelings.
Separated only by a river. Alas! What a pity.
India was the birth-place of her Nanma. Chamak was introduced to the land through Nanma’s stories. For years she dreamt to visit the sacred land. Love for India was something she had inherited. Just a rubbish LOC divided the hearts and souls of the people who once lived together.
No. Actually it was not the hearts and souls. It was the selfish interests of a few people. They had successfully blinded the rest for years. Chamak couldn’t visit India till Nanma lived. That hurt somewhere deep inside. All her life Nanma wanted to visit the place where she was born. She missed her family and friends from the other side, who were buried under tons of sand. Those who thought that separating people would benefit a larger cause had brought upon excruciating pain for millions of people like Nanma.
You amputate when there’s a destructive wound. They amputated first and left a permanent impairment!
Chamak would ask whether there would be a time when the sub-continent would operate like European Union; where no visa would be required and one could wander like a free bird! It sounded like the ranting dream of an insane mind. Nanma would stare in the vastness of the void with hollow eyes; she had no answer to it.
Nanma was her favourite person. She used to say, “Chamak will become ‘a barra aadmi’ one day”. Chamat asked what actually a “barra aadmi” meant. Nanma said, “You would know by yourself.”
Chamak was still searching for the meaning.
Nanma told stories about a world of things, especially about India. Chamak heard tales of Patna and Sahasaram, the two cities in Bihar. Nanma was born in Sahasaram. She had a strong bond with the soil of that place. For hours she would talk about her childhood, her Amma, Abba, Chacha, her nineteen brothers who were all dead. Only her sister and she were alive; and also “Dulha Bhai”.
Nanma had barristers, judges and deputy collectors in her family. Chamak tried to imagine how was it to have a family like that in 1920s! Nanma proudly said that her Chacha had completed his Bar-at-Law from Britain and married a Farangun (Britisher). It was her wish that Chamak should also go there for higher studies. She introduced Chamak to Poppop Nani, her sister, and her children spread in different parts of India. Chamak and her sister had given this peculiar name to Poppop Nani, as she had lost all her teeth.
Nanma used to say that Chamak would become a judge one day, as she asked lot of questions. But Chamak wanted to be a Brain Surgeon. She had a knack for drawing and Ammi used to say that she should opt for art. Chamak eventually became an artist. Playing with colours made her happy. Also, she could fulfill Nanma’s wish for her to go to Britain to pursue PhD.
Chamak missed those moonlit nights when Nanma would apply Hena on her sister’s and her hands. Just a simple design. A circle in the middle with dots on the fingers and filled finger tips. So beautiful were those days. Waking up with hands tied in a thin muslin cloth so that the hena from hands won’t stain the bed sheet.
Tears rolled down as the memories were flooding like a film roll. She felt feverishly nostalgic sitting in a home at Torwarsak, a small village in Buner, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Her mind wandered around a specific time zone from the past where no one could reach ever again. A place of her own, where after washing off the Hena from the hands, Nanma would apply coconut oil on them. She would then kiss. And after a very respectful aadab, both sisters would get their Eidi.
The bygone days still seemed to be as bright as Eid. The festivities gradually lost all the meaning because occasions were meaningful till there were loved ones to celebrate it with. With Nanma’s eternal abode, the part she left with Chamak was still alive. But the part Chamak had given away to Nanma was gone.
Yet, with every passing moment, Chamak’s love and dependence on Nanma has only grown. It was like eternity. She didn’t need any more, the physical bodies of her loved ones to cherish. She had them anyway within the pit of her soul where no one could reach to take them away. And then, there was a little wish equally protected somewhere deep inside. One day she would be walking freely on the streets of India, exploring all the places that she wanted to visit with Nanma. Like Kashmir and Ladakh.
Love needs no boundary. The elegant Deriya-e-Kashmir which touches both Pakistan and Hindustan doesn’t care about the division. It only flows gracefully. It’s such a slap on the faces of those who feed both the sides with hatred.
Can they stop the wind, bird, river or a fragrance to enter the LOC without visa?
There are people in both Pakistan and Hindustan, who still wish that one day a lame piece of paper won’t decide whether you can or can’t cross the threshold.
Nanma’s dream to visit India with the status of the woman of its soil remained a spell which never broke. She could visit the land only twice after partition. Her dreams were buried with her. But what she left with her grand-daughter Chamak remained so alive that she beholds it in her heart and soul with loyalty that drives her with vigor and passion.
The enormity of the passion a grandmother injected in her granddaughter’s soul for a prohibited land can never be bound; it wants to break all the physicality of ugliness with rage and thunder.

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14 Response Comments

  • Waheed Ali10/07/2016 at 8:57 AM

    It’s just simply amazing, I think this is the story if thousands of people who love the both part countries Pakistan and India we Al Pakistani and Indians have alot of stories and the dreams which couldn’t come true just because of partition, Chanal is the voice of all people who wants to go India or Pakistan without any fear.

    • Sohaina Elia12/07/2016 at 3:12 AM

      Thank you Waheed, means a lot to me. This is so true; the pain of ‘batwara’ took away many lives and the motherland of a lot of people. It can not be changed but what can be done is to improve the situation by resolving the issues between the two nations.

  • Yumna baloch12/07/2016 at 12:10 PM

    It’s such a beautiful writeup sohaina .. India and Pakistan are not only nations. They’re like a eyes of a bride. They’re incomplete without eachother.
    All love for india and pakistan .. Jai ho 🙂

  • Inbisat Khalique12/07/2016 at 3:25 PM

    It’s a beautiful story Sohaina aunty.
    I love how your supporting peace between both countries! I hope more and more people from both the countries get together and resolve situations between India and Pakistan. I loved it❤

  • Satyapal Anand12/07/2016 at 9:13 PM

    Born in Kot Sarang, a nondescript village of Distt. Talagang back in 1931, I feel more a Pakistani than either Indian or American. That, however, is not the point. The point is that this story reminds us that we the lineage and progeny of common forefathers need to look at things as “ours” and not “mine” or “yours”. I am sending this story to my friend Gulzar to read and enjoy also.

  • Sadia Elia13/07/2016 at 1:30 PM

    Such A beautiful story written by you Sohaina baji ; heart touching words.

  • Nikhat14/07/2016 at 12:32 PM

    Dear Sohaina,

    Such a sweet flow of memories with a tinge of sour and bitterness on how the history unfolded for everyone living on each sides of LOC. I see a lot more of you in ‘Chamak’. It seems like as if, the story is not of any fictional girl but streaming out from you. Each one of our generation, whose parents suffered the pain of migration could relate to it very well. The story is short but the impact is deep. In few lines you have accomplished in portraying well the ‘Grief of Partition. That line “Can they stop the wind, bird, river or a fragrance to enter the LOC without a visa?” reminded me of a song of Sonu Nigan by Javed Akhter from the movie “Refugee”. The relationship of Nanma with her grand-daughter was quite cloying-loved it. It was a good attempt. Keep posting.

  • izhar ul hassan16/07/2016 at 9:50 PM

    It’s really heart touching Sohaina. Such pure words you have written. That is why they say,
    “Baat jo dil se nikalti hai, asar rakhti hai.”
    Thanx for sharing! ?

  • Suraiya jabeen17/07/2016 at 10:40 PM

    Congratulations, Suhaina! You are not only an artist, you are a writer too. Your story brings tears to my eyes as it always did when I saw my own mother suffer as a victim of the partition between India and Pakistan. Just imagine, you the third generation are still affected with the pain that your grandmother had suffered all her life! I believe the story of partition should keep on being told and retold in the hope that may be some day somebody in power might realize about the far reaching effect of the damage that it has done to the generations who have not been the direct victim of the partition of the subcontinent. Keep up with your writing, Sohaina! You are an amazing writer.

  • Rafit Khan20/07/2016 at 10:48 PM

    This was absolutely beautiful heart touching story..this is a must read for everyone it makes us feel the pain from deep inside.
    Incredible writing Sohaina you have the amazing ability to make someone feel every emotion possible in your writing.looking
    forward to your next sending huge prayers light & love your way!

  • Parma Abbas21/07/2016 at 4:22 AM

    This is a very nice heart touching story and I love the way you have illustrated the effect of the partition on you and described it in great depth! Very well written!<3

    • Parma Abbas21/07/2016 at 5:28 AM

      I love you and i’m so proud

  • Zaheer Alam Kidvai21/07/2016 at 7:11 AM

    A lovely article that sums up how many feel. With a father and a mother who wrote/write well, I am not surprised that Sohaina could write as truthfully as they do/did. Hope to see more of her work soon.

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