A couple of Sundays back I went about exploring a bit of South Mumbai. I was keen to pass Jinnah House in Malabar Hill (also known as South Court). The place Mohammad Ali Jinnah built in 1936. A home built on 2.5 acres with Italian marble and walnut woodwork. A home that resided the man who played the most vital role in the partition of India in 1947 and became founder of Pakistan.
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Why did I want to pass by this place? I had read a couple of articles of Pakistan’s desire to hand-over Jinnah House to their government – there were many such demands that came up over the years, but there was a recent one in March 2017. A statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said, “The property belongs to the founder of Pakistan and should be given to Pakistan. On various occasions, the Indian government has promised to handover the property to the government of Pakistan but (they) have not fulfilled their commitment as yet.”
Why does this even compel me to write a piece on it? Footprints No Boundaries is not just about me looking forward to and creating new footprints through new experiences, it’s also about knowing where I come from and also expressing my views on something I visibly saw affect those close to me. So, like millions of people, in 1947, my family left Lahore (then British India, now Pakistan) and became refugees in Delhi. Millions of people believed this was just a small issue, it’ll blow over and everything will be as is. The grave nature of the situation was not understood until it didn’t get nasty. Millions of people didn’t get a choice. India was divided based on religion. Anger grew, millions died, millions were left homeless. India chose to remain secular. West Pakistan and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) became an Islamic Republic.
The horror of partition was such for people of both countries that it destroyed their livelihood, their families and their memories. My grandparents could never bring themselves to talk about Lahore so I know very little. Independence day from the British was scarred by the partition from each other.
It is well documented that Mohammad Ali Jinnah loved his Malabar Hill home – he had it built brick by brick under his supervision overlooking the sea. Jinnah had a choice, he chose to demand a partition. He chose to act the way he did. Just like millions of others, he couldn’t take his Jinnah House with him, but he knew what he was doing.
When he rejected India, why should anything in India be seen as his to be given to Pakistan? When our forefathers didn’t have the choice, why should anyone else, especially if it’s the man who caused this.
As I type this, I realise what a coincidence it is that today is the eve of India’s Independence and the chaos of India’s partition 70 years ago. I do wonder, if partition hadn’t happened, where would I be living today – a question with various hypothetical answers.