Books

The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan

The eyes of Amina Appa, Rafia has sketched a portrait of Pakistan some may not like but one that is important and timely nonetheless.
 
Mar 30, 2015
 
Book: The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan
Author: Rafia Zakaria
Publisher: Beacon Press;
Pgs: 264
 
By Amit Ranjan
 
In 1947, when India was partitioned and Pakistan was carved out, many crossed the border with the dream of living in what was supposed to be ‘their’ country but, till today, they are regarded as Mohajirs (migrants) because religion per se is not the only criterion of social bonding. Soon after 1947 other primordial identities replaced religion and social conflicts started on their basis. It is not that those who did not go to Pakistan in 1947 were satisfied. In the following decades, some were forced to change their decision due to socio-political developments in India. Seismic after effects of the brutality of 1947 was so long and powerful that Muslims, after getting news or a rumour about occurrence of communal riots even in far flung areas, took the risk of crossing into alien land. This two-way process of group migration continued till the 1960s. Hindus too fled from Pakistan due to the violence and discrimination practiced against them. However, many people from these groups could not use their discretion because they had neither money nor relatives across these sovereign borders. Rafia’s grandparents, who had links in Pakistan, migrated from Bombay (now Mumbai) to Karachi in 1961. Though she has not mentioned communal riots as a factor influencing her grandparents’ decision to change their country, it cannot be completely ruled out.
 
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