Beyond the Border – Indo Pak
Border Border by Ajoka Theatre
An amalgamation of creativity and history, spun together in an inseparable manner.
Never ever in Indian history has a year held as much significance as the year 1947. Our country was finally getting independence after almost 2 centuries of colonial rule. But our hearts weren’t prepared for what followed next – The partition . With no time for celebrations and a lot of trains to catch, the newly liberated nation’s citizens were packing in a hurry trying to make it past the borders of the blood smeared line that now divided India and Pakistan. The partition still evokes feelings of anguish and terror whenever it is spoken, with an estimated 2 million people killed and 20 million people displaced. People who had suffered the consequences of the division are still reluctant to discuss it.
Somehow, as a result of this cycle of murder, separation, and trauma, the two nations’ relations soured. People in one nation began spreading hatred for those in another, and subsequent generations carried on this animosity. Fortunately for us, the current generation is attempting to remove the generational indoctrination thanks to their knowledge of human rights and feelings. Being a proud practitioner of storytelling, Lighthouse sought to emulate this by working with Ajoka Theatre to partake in the social activity of theater, which is quite common.
Border Border was a play written by playwright Shahid Nadeem for a collaborative project of Ajoka Children’s Theatre and Besen Foundation, Chandigarh, India in 2001. The two groups had agreed to do the play with children both from India and Pakistan and perform in both countries. The children from Chandigarh, India crossed the famous Wagha Indo-Pakistan border to workshop and rehearse with their Pakistano co-actors. Later the Pakistani kids paid a return visit which culminated in the premiere in Chandigarh. The team then visited Pakistan to perform. Later in 2004, the play was revived by Ajoka in collaboration with the Springdale School, Amritsar, following the same process. The play was performed in Lahore, Islamabad, Amritsar and Delhi and attracted great media attention on both sides of the border. The bonds of friendship developed during the project led to long term friendships.
The play is set at the Wagha Bodrer, which separates the India side of Punjab from the Pakistani part of Punjab. This border is the venue of aggressive border closing ceremony at Sunset, famous for its jingoistic display of love of the land as well as hatred for the other side. It tells the amusingly similar story of children from either side taken to witness the flag-lowering ceremony. They are told by their parents about patriotism and how to distance themselves from the other side. But when the kids get to the border, they find that the kids on the other side not only looked the same, spoke the same language and had the same film and sports heroes. Not only that, they have similar names and wear similar clothes. Then they accidentally cross the border, the Indian Gudoo and Guddi slip into the Pakistan side and Pakistani Guddo and Guddi into the Indian side. When parents and the security people start looking for the missing kids, they find it very difficult to identify the kids from the other side as they can be differentiated from the kids of the other side. In the process, the kids learn about the kids from the other side and make friends.
This play has served to refute the animosity that has been instilled in the minds of small infants who have no concept of love or hatred. As we all know, hatred is learnt rather than innate. Instead of teaching hatred, we teach love, and our entire country develops into a beautiful, progressive, and respectable civilization.
Border Border is a play performed by Ajoka Theater emphasizing the importance of peace and harmony over unnecessary hatred and discrimination.