by - Arun Babani
Post partition generation of Sindhis, now in their 50s and 60s, are the most homeless lot and are being pulled in different directions wherever they are. Their grownup children don’t value and recognize their value system, being brought up on computers and mobile phones and their elders are lost in their ancient, age old dreams around Sindhu river and the Indus civilization. They can neither relate with their modernized kids nor can they speak honestly or offer anything to their sad and lonely elders.
It is not only the fact of being homeless and stateless that we Sindhis suffer from. Over and above that misfortune, it is the times – changing rapidly, that has made almost every community, every religion and every language outdated and obsolete. Urdu in Pakistan is quickly changing hands with English, the Chinese are fervently learning English, Russian is fast losing its luster with the Russian youth and most Indian languages are being sidelined to make way for the mighty English .It is only a matter of a few decades and couple of generations when this becomes an unavoidable global reality. The meaning of culture then will drastically alter and compel the citizens of the world to rethink the idea of culture, civilization and roots.
For instance, a born Sindhi boy meets a born Chinese girl in an international school, both undergo similar education and grow together, sharing i-pods and burgers, are closer to each other than any Sindhi couple elsewhere. The bond of culture based on the sharing of a common reality is much stronger than sharing of family and blood relations.
Four generations down the line or maybe sooner, this fact of homogeneity of world cultures will be witnessed in a new perspective. Since western language and culture is fast becoming the culture of tomorrow, most of the ethnic and traditional value systems are going to take a back seat and perhaps disappear eventually. The demarcation between ancient and modern is being seen very clearly now in the 21st century and will grow faster and wipe out every unique and distinct identity that might have been around. People take pride nowadays in sending their children to American standard schools and colleges. They want their sons and daughters to be ready for the future. So, a Maharashtrian kid, attending American style high school, meets Tamil, Gujarati and Sindhi friends who all speak Americanized English and have been baptized as global.
So where do we look and go from here? Should we, the post partition generation, feel more and more helpless and ‘stuck’ with our younger lot, should we cry over the loss of Sindhiyat, or should we instead look to the future with hope and bless our children to do well and fit with the future? Where do we put our trust? In the Jhulelal from the past or in some unknown future God that resembles a superman? We know that our son will never speak to us in Sindhi proverbs ,that our daughter will not be able to understand Laadaas or play Chej- our traditional dance, or that our grandson will pray only to Christ…All this we accept, bowing down to the Great Reality, the verdict of history. We may or may not be around when our kids would be sixty and admiring their own young kids with an American pride and at the same time helping us, their elders, in imported wheelchairs, feeling our sense of loss…while we elders ,listening to echoes of our forefathers…tactfully wipe a tear so as not to show it to our bright, confident, global generation of Sindhis, Tamils, Americans, Pakistanis, nor tell them about our womb, our Indus, our Gods, our river, our land, our dreams and our past! They may cry, or worst still they may laugh at us…calling us sentimental fools.
We must stand aside now, we the old and forgotten, and make way for the new and upcoming. The march of history must continue, the old must go and the new must be born. We must, for a moment, stand out of our old thinking and wear the shoes of our young ones. Instead of resisting change we must support it. We may continue to live in the old house but we must allow for and welcome a new, global interior so that a bright future is born right here in the lap of a golden past. We may keep our Jhulelal but must make space available for the future Gods of our future generations!