It was on evening of 10th of November 1989, in our home in New Delhi, India, Papa, Ammi and I were as usual watching the News on Doordarshan TV. The news of the day were the fall of Berlin Wall.
Here is a clip from that day:
My father, a Professor of Political Science at University of Delhi, and ideologically a socialist was a lot skeptical about what was happening far away in Europe.
Since I was engaged to a Pakistani, and our wedding date was decided for 29 Jan 1990, I was naturally comparing it to India-Pakistan scenario.
I asked Papa, “Can such a thing happen between India and Pakistan?”
He replied, “India Pakistan is a lot simpler issue than the two Germanies. All that the two countries need is easier visas. With PPP in power, Pakistan will get better.”
He believed the left PPP will mend Pakistan. 😀
He was a proud Indian who had massive faith in Secular India, that was the vision of Gandhi and Nehru. Infact, he had presented me in my school days a book, “The Glimpses of World History” by Nehru. He wanted me to know and align with Nehru’s world view.
Papa was an optimist, and as kids we remember him tell us siblings, “The world in your times will be more open and risen above the differences of religion, caste and race.”
And like every Indian he lay the blame on Pakistan for all the troubles between the two neighbors.
However, that evening he kept glued to the TV, keeping his focus on the Berlin Wall. He wasn’t much interested in discussing India Pakistan as he was more worried about the fall of communism. He kept wondering how will it all unfold, and what would it look like in times to come with Capitalism winning over Socialism.
Ammi, also a lecturer in Political Science was in total agreement with him.
I got married in January 1990.
Days and months later, in less than a year, in October 1990, the two Germanies united.
Now I closely began to monitor the relations between India and Pakistan as it was part of my personal life now. I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions myself, as bilateral relations went through several crests and trough, with one step forward and 2 steps backward each time.
Thirty years on….
Today Germany celebrates 30th anniversary of Berlin Wall fall. Nothing that Papa feared happened. Fall of Berlin Wall is in fact celebrated as an end to cold war and a symbol of peace.
Today also brings the Babri Masjid Verdict by Indian Supreme Court, which grants Hindutva vigillantes who tore down the Babri Mosque, the right to build the temple at the very site, despite admitting in the judgement that there was no temple found beneath on investigation, and also that placing of idols in the mosque in 1949 and tearing down of the whole mosque in 1992 were illegal acts. Religious sentiments have prevailed over scientific evidence and justice.
Today also marks the opening of Kartarpur Corridor between India and Pakistan for the Sikh Pilgrims, for the very first time in 72 years of partition. This I must say has been the most optimistic step forward in the 30 years of my life as an Indian-Pakistani. The credit clearly goes to Pakistan’s Imran Khan.
India Pakistan are now nuclear countries, still at loggerheads, with politics of religions getting dirtier, and making religious bigotry far more complicated even within India. It isn’t as easy a problem as Papa had predicted.
Socialist and secular by his soul, Papa was genuinely shocked and disheartened by the country wide antiMuslim riots that spread after Babri Masjid fall in 1992. This was not anything like his India.
Both my parents were professors of Political Science. But unfortunately both of them had no clue where would India, they were so confident and proud of, be standing 30 years later. And that Fall of Berlin wall, he so dreaded, would be celebrated as a symbol of peace on its 30th anniversary and ‘Pakistan’ he was so critical of would be the architect of “Kartarpur Corridor of Peace”.
We lost Papa in 1998 when he was barely 65.
I dread to even imagine what if he was alive in today’s India and knowing the unshakable belief he had of secular India, what would be his reaction watching it crumble down brick by brick like the Berlin Wall?