By Heer Cheema for KidSpirit's Unity and Division issue
They are restless, moving backward and forward, surrounded by a miasma of uncertainty and despair. Sleeping in airports, caught in transition, they have no homes, because bans and war-ravaged countries are their reality. They are a reflection of my past.
Pakistani history and literature is rife with this familiar tale of displacement. Saadat Hasan Manto, an Indo-Pakistani writer, in his 1955 short story titled “Toba Tek Singh,” reflects on the anguish and loss associated with the divisions on paper that wrought destruction on millions of lives during the Partition of the Subcontinent in 1947. His protagonist, Bishan Singh, lies lost in “no–man’s–land,” unable to return home as a result of these arbitrary borders. “No–Man’s–Land” is not only a region in conflict but, as Manto highlights, a state of distress and disconnect.
Bishan Singh’s dilemma is universal, shared not only by today’s refugees and diasporas, but also by my ancestors ...