Kab nazar mein ayegi bedagh sabze ki bahar, khoon ke dhabbe dhulein ge kitni barsaaton ke baad?
When shall we see the beauty of innocent greens, how many monsoons will it take to wash away the patches of blood?
-- Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Dhaka Se Wapsi Par (1974)
History is not a coherent narrative.
A war is always made into a glorious narrative with certain male heros and villains. Women mostly appear as sacrificing creatures, mother and sisters who bravely let go of their men for the cause of the nation. Women also appear synonymous to the landscape, ready to be raped, plundered, and give their lives and izzat or chastity for the cause of the nation. The purpose of Meherjaan is to break the glorious narrative of national history and open up a modest avenue to explore perhaps, not only one or two, but multiple narratives of war.
History is always a creation of the present.
We stand here, in our time and space, looking back in search of ourselves in the present time, piecing together what we call history: stories of people who lived in the past. First of all, no one will ever know what it was actually like if one didn't live it. However, there is at least one safe way to piece together a good enough contour of the past in order to comprehend the prominent political, socio-economic, cultural forces at play during a certain chunk in time.
This safe way is about making room for more than one voice. History has to be told, not only from the vantage point of the armed forces, the politicians, the freedom fighters, the men; rather, history has to be told from the voices of every other person that was left out—the old woman, the man who didn't fight, and maybe a young girl who was coming of age and falling in love while the entire country plunged into hatred, killing, separatist emotions and nationalist turmoil.
The most intense love stories are those that are difficult to consummate. In Sufi philosophy love relationship between the divine and the devotee always remains fueled by the consciousness of the impossibility of ultimate union. Meherjaan love story is driven by such impossible material conditions of union, while indefatigable emotional desire to unite throbs throughout the narrative.
Perhaps, the story of death, violence, trauma and loss can be best told veiled in love and romance. In her writing about Korean comfort women's sexual slavery during World War II, author Noeleen Heyzer offers an 'aesthetic solution' to overcome history of violence. She suggests that we look beyond feminist studies for a "more powerful power," a "power" which is "life sustaining, liberating, and transforming." I believe love and compassion is that "power."
As the world plunges into unlimited war and terror, there is a necessity to look outside the masculine ideology of nation-state and violence, to look for a feminine life sustaining language that is related to nature, absolute beauty and love.
With Meherjaan's saga of love, we intend to instigate a process of healing the unattended wounds of 1971 war by bringing out the inaudible voices of history.