Currently this is, perforce, a Delhi-NCR-centric review, but one hopes that this latest show by Sonam Kalra will travel the country and beyond…
“Partition Stories of Separation” was performed for the first time at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre in front of a sold-out audience this weekend.
A show devoted to the trauma and sorrow of Partition was never going to be easy viewing and there were moments of great sadness. Great, heart-wrenching sadness. When the elderly Sikh spoke about the death of his sister, I could hardly breathe, it was so raw and painful.
But this pain, which Sonam Kalra talks about in the programme, cannot – and must not – be avoided or ignored:
This trauma is part of the DNA of the subcontinent and it has to be commemorated and shared, especially with the gradual passing of the brave generations who lived through the horrors of Partition.
Through song, and poetry, and interviews with amazing people who lived through Partition, this traumatic period of history is brought to life by Sonam Kalra, Salima Raza and Sonam’s team of amazing musicians.
But for me, what moved me the most, was not so much the looking backwards at history, but the positive looking forward towards peace and reconciliation.
And here the energy and thrust of a younger generation with a different mindset was in evidence.
I loved the inter-active feeling of the show – from old fashioned postcards on which we were asked to write our message of peace starting with the positive words “When we meet…”, to the hashtags to be used on social media to build a dialogue with “The Other Side.”
There were cute, quirky touches, such as a “postbox” for the postcards for Pakistan.
We were even given pens, ensuring that there we all had no excuse not to write.
A pile of old luggage in the entrance to the auditorium spoke volumes.
I hope that this show travels the length and breadth of India, and more than anything else that it travels to “The Other Side.”
Shabash to Sonam Kalra for giving voice to painful memories, but than anything for presenting the pain with so much love and, most importantly, hope.