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AMBER ABBAS

The exchange below, which took place during an interview in Lahore, Pakistan in July 2006, reveals the disruption in one narrator’s family as a result of their decision to migrate to Pakistan. This narrator, Major General Wajahat Husain (Ret’d) of the Pakistan Army, chose to move because, as a recently commissioned army officer, he expected the move to benefit his career. His family, however, made their decision in haste, in the middle of the night, and under threat. In trying to locate his relationship to Aligarh, the city in which his family had lived for generations, and a center of Muslim cultural and intellectual life, I asked: AA: Do you ever miss India? WH: No. AA: I just wonder [because] Muslims gave up a lot to come to Pakistan. WH: Especially my family… They gave up a lot and all said and done, it was our childhood. We were very happy. We were very well brought up, very well brought up, we were well educated, we had excellent friends… The fact is that I had made up my mind when Pakistan was established. My mind was oriented towards going to Pakistan and joining the Pakistan Army. I have never regretted it. AA: Do you think your parents ever missed it? WH: No… All they were concerned with was the well-being of the children—there were nine of us. The main reason why my father left was when he realized there was no future for us in India. Whatever they had was worthless because [there was no opportunity] for all these children. (personal interview, July 11, 2006, Lahore) In his critique of Partition historiography, Gyanendra Pandey establishes Partition as a “limit case” of historiography, a moment so colored by horror that it is unique (Pandey 2001, 45). But he challenges historiography that treats Partition violence as a “problem of origins.” The problem of origins is insufficient to explain the trauma, disruptive as it is, of the pre-existing situation, that is, of the origins themselves (ibid., 49-50). What interests me about narratives of origins is not how I might use them to explain or understand the violence of partition. Rather, I can use them to understand how a community remembers its origins to create continuities in the midst of

Sagar XVII — 2007