This Texan was born in Pakistan but never heard stories about partition. She’s trying to change that.
Neha Aziz came to the United States as a baby. She was raised in Texas and schooled in Arlington. She says it wasn’t until she returned to Pakistan for the first time in 2017 that she learned about what really happened during partition.
“I obviously knew that Pakistan used to be part of India, but I didn’t really know the horror stories behind it because no one in my family told me,” Aziz said. “My parents didn’t tell me, like my grandparents are survivors and they never talked about it.”
Millions of people were uprooted and moved from their homelands in the 1947 partition. Hundreds of thousands did not make it on the journey or in the violence that ensued as the division highlighted differences among people who had before coexisted.
Aziz learned about the devastation through a presentation at a Pakistani mall.
“And basically, like after we saw this, we went to the food court for lunch. And we’re just, you know, we’re eating KFC. And I’m like, ‘What is this? Like, please tell me what’s going on,’” Aziz said. “And then ever since then, I’ve really wanted to take a deeper dive into the history, because it was a quite traumatic thing. And I feel like there’s still a lot of trauma to unpack.”
She decided to unpack it by putting together a podcast – “Partition.” She started by interviewing people, including her grandfather.
“He was 14 when it happened,” Aziz said. “And although he wasn’t in an area where a lot of the violence took place, he was quite scared when going to school, and he did witness some violent attacks.”
She says she was shocked that she didn’t read about partition in history books in school.
“I think the thing that I remember is that we learned about Gandhi and how he was a pacifist and stood up to the British, and that’s kind of really where it ended, at least to my recollection,” Aziz said.
She said the same is true about representation in media.
“We don’t have something like a ‘Schindler’s List,’” Aziz said. “There isn’t kind of this, like, this is the go-to kind of piece of media to really get a good picture of what it is. But of course, so many people obviously know what the Holocaust is. And I’m like, ‘this happened at the same time.’”
She says representations that are out there are from what she calls a “great men in history” narrative.
“But like you never hear about the actual people it affected, like the people who had to move, the women,” Aziz said. “It’s thought that around 70,000 to 100,000 women were raped, abducted, murdered during this time. And it’s like, where are those stories?”
Aziz says she hopes her podcast “Partition” will help to fill in those gaps and introduce more people to the 1947 event that impacted so many.
“This my culture. This my history. And I didn’t know about it for such a long time,” Aziz said. “And if I don’t know about it, and this is my story, I can’t imagine the number of other people who they don’t know about it either.”
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