Does our mother’s life then become the grisaille to our own? That monochromatic grey scale underpainting to which we add the color of our lives.
In Blackout, Faiz mixes images of Muslim and Hindu sacred origins as a symbolic defiance of the Partition. In the lyrical and romantic poem Ya’d’ (Memory or Remembrance), the pain of separation from the beloved (Jan) and exile (fira’q & hijr) also represent a yearning for the pre-Partition problematic, undivided self. In these lyrical poems, Faiz constantly raises questions of ‘home’ and ‘exile’, that defy the space of separation of the two nation-states.
For years my label for myself has been musafir, مسافر/यात्री which is the word for traveler in Hindi/Urdu. I grew up in India and since my father was a doctor in the Indian Army, I found myself in a new city and school every two to three years. It was a transitory existence, which I assumed – as any egocentric child – was how the world lived. Seven schools, a couple of universities and many, many homes in many cities later I found myself in a city and home in California, where I have now lived the longest. And the musafir is still here.
Abu is in the letter, arguing voraciously about politics with his fellow Pakistanis on the ship. Mummy promises her mother that he will add a line or two at the end of the letter, but true to the man I knew, he decides to let Mummy have the last word.