Bittersweet memories of Partition documented

Graphic designer

M C Rajagopalan was in his 20s when he enrolled in Hindu College in Delhi. Every day he left his home, where the present day Bengali Market is located, to reach Kashmere Gate, where the college was then situated. On route he was joined by his friend Maqsooda. Both cycled together on the lanes of Delhi which was fresh with the wounds of Partition. Both their father’s worked in the Home Ministry under the British Rule. One day Rajagopalan got to know that Maqsooda had to migrate to Pakistan with her father; and the two never met after that.

Stories like these sound familiar to the ears having heard grandparents talk about their long lost friends after the country was divided making many shift to Pakistan and vice-versa. But 21-year-old Sukanya Deepak realised the worth of these narratives, considering that they came from the “last generation which has seen Partition”, and compiled few of them in her book ‘Memoirs of 1947’.

“When I was given a choice to work on something as part of my graduation project as part of Communication Design course at Pearl Academy, I chose to take up something that was close to my heart. Almost everyone around us has heard their ancestors talk about Partition, but none realise what they went through,” says Deepak.

From the six-month time that she got to work on her concept, almost half the time was consumed in researching – which included reading books on Partition, watching films on Partition and finding people whom she could talk to.

“I sent out mails and managed to find people who narrated me their stories of Partition. I chose the ones which were different and interviewed 10 individuals but could only incorporate three narratives in my present draft,” says Deepak, whose great grandfather worked for the British Government in Karachi, Delhi and Shimla.
Her grandfather’s account of what Delhi was in the past and how it changed over the years flows as an undercurrent of post-Partition stories of refugee camps that were
set up. She chooses to keep the book interactive and uses her graphic designing skills to make it look like a long letter that opens and folds like the musical
instrument – accordion.

“I even collected whatever photographs people had, to give the book a visual identity,” she says, informing that she wanted her work to be “more nostalgic than sad or gory” like most of the Partition stories.

The image of withering leaves on each page, printed in sepia tone, adds an element of continuity to the documentation that she has done. “But I want to add more stories. This is just the beginning. There are so many people who have their stories of Partition and I want to include them all,” she says with high hopes of getting her book published some day.     

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