Witness to Loss: Parasher's Partition Sketches
Time & Location
About the Event
Meeting ID: 824 5657 3893
'This remarkable series occupies a unique place in our history, a place universally felt but seldom mentioned. S. L. Parasher was the Vice-Principal of the Mayo School of Art, Lahore, and Founder Principal of the Punjab School of Arts, Simla. Parasher spent 1945-47 as commandant of the Baldev Nagar Refugee Camp in Ambala and Gandhinagar Camp, Delhi. Wrested, like everyone else, from much of what he knew and loved, he spent sleepless evenings walking amongst the refugees and often stopping to sketch the visible evidence of all that was lost.
Has the Partition become a word whose meaning is bent by the ears that receive it? For young Indians now reaching adulthood, it could easily be an academic concept only, one as far away as Shah Jahan—important, but inaccessible. At a half century after Partition we are in a brief moment when intellectual, spiritual and social memory sometimes still coalesce.
As those born on the cusp of the shift from memory—what our parents told us—and re-memory—what we have to learn for ourselves—we must feel a special responsibility toward Partition, to the violence of the birth of modern India and to the unrecorded lost who paid with their expectations, often with their lives, for our current well-being. Parasher's Partition Sketches are a window into this largely empty space. They are that rare transitional item that flows directly from the immediacy of his experience in a transit camp in 1947 to our experience in 2021 trying to imagine hopelessness and despair, of the lives which have given us our own, of a time where everything which was dependable had been ruptured and nothing of the future could be imagined. The very fragility of these pieces—they are largely on scraps of available paper—is testament to the nearly impossible journey they have made from that moment to this one. Unlike written records, scant as those are, and unlike recreations such as film, these sketches are a constant, as real now as they were in the muddy, fly strewn and exhausted moments of their creation.'
Prajna Paramita Parasher is a filmmaker/scholar and multimedia artist practicing at the shifting intersection of classical thought and new technologies.
Aloka Parasher-Sen has been teaching at the University of Hyderabad, India since 1979 where she is currently Professor of History and Dean School of Social Sciences.