A writer is made up of his experiences and this holds true for Dr B S Shah. A professor of pathology at the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital,writing is his hobby.
Dr Shah was so moved by his encounters with some Pakistani people that he spent his spare time penning a novel on Partition,Bebas Parinde which was first published in 2000 in Punjabi and later translated into Urdu. The novel charts out a story of a Sikh and a Muslim family during the Partition.
Besides,he has also authored short stories on people who do menial yet wonderful jobs but fail to get recognition. We should accord dignity of labour to a person for the kind of job he does. But that is missing in our society, he points out.
Talking about the novel,he says he did not choose the subject of Partition for his first novel but the subject chose him.
The story is of an old era when the country was going through testing times and I was skeptical whether it would appeal to the readers of today. But I realised it was a general subject and holds importance even today. The novel is purely based on human experiences and in a way tells us why the people of the two countries still interact with each other so often and with so much warmth. It is because our hearts have always been open to each other despite the line drawn between us.
He narrates: I happened to have three real-life experiences that brought back to me the memories of those people who witnessed the independence of a nation through Partition.
The first encounter I had with a Pakistani was when my cousin went missing for a few minutes at Bangkok in the 80s. Later,I found him chatting with Punjabi speaking boys who were from Pakistan. The security personnel had been questioning him under some suspicion when they told them that my cousin was with them.
The second time I was in Paris and travelling with my wife and a friend by metro. When we alighted,someone tried to loot us. A person saved us from the robber and the messiah too turned out to be a Pakistani. His third encounter was with a doctor from Canada in a conference in Mumbai years later. During my conversation with him,I found out that his father was the civil surgeon of Ludhiana before Partition. Their family had migrated to Pakistan,from where they had shifted to Canada.
He sums up,We all are inter-related and connected as we look the same,speak the same language and have a similar demography and geography. And all that inspired me to write.