The illustration above is one of three I was commissioned to do by the Commonwealth Writer’s website, Adda, to remember 70 years of violent, bloody Partition of the sub-continent. While I was given complete freedom to conceptualize the illustrations, it was suggested that I make all three with some kind of connecting thread to them. For this I used similar colors, red, black and white and a certain similarity to the landscape.
The illustration above is for a powerful story called ‘Regional Division’ by Sidra Zia. In the image, to depict division and violence I’ve used dramatic colors – red and black and torn paper; to show migration, I've poured the mayhem of million birds in the air, I've splattered red for bloodshed; I want the dramatic illustration to draw out all the emotions in the story.
The second illustration (at the bottom) is for the non-fiction section, Speaking of Partition is a complex piece about communication; language and words in relation to Partition - whether what comprises a language is adequate enough to describe what happened during the Partition, the author is on a train journey, she talks about how the moment you board a train you can sometimes arrive at your destination.
The third piece, a poem arrived late, therefore I have kindly been given more time.
More and more when I read such stories, when I hear Urvashi Butalia talk about her book, The Other Side of Silence, when I read Shashi Tharoor dismantling false constructions that we were (and still are taught in schools), I thank heavens for the power of stories that hold up the truth before our eyes.