Jonathan Neale: Please vote against borders on Thursday.
I was born in New York just after the Second World War, and now I live in Britain. I was six years old when my family first went to India. We lived in Ludhiana, a small industrial city in Punjab. Six years before India and Pakistan had been partitioned. Hindus and Sikhs had killed Muslims, and Muslims had killed Hindus and Sikhs, until three quarters of a million were dead. One evening my father’s best friend, Mister Dillon, played caroms with me and told me that his family had sheltered a Muslim under their house to save his life. I understood he was telling me that there were good people in the world.
When I grew up, I understood that no one else in Punjab had ever told me a story like that, and that was part of what Mister Dillon was telling me too. But so many of our older neighbours told me that I must see Lahore, in Pakistan, once before I died. They could never go back.
Forty-six years later I was on a train from Delhi to Gorakhpur, a poor city in the north of UP. Several people in second class told me there was a man on the train from Pakistan. He had got a visa, and he was travelling to a village near the end of the line, where he had lived as a child. He was first man any of us had met who could return. Someone took me to see him. I looked at him, and I began to cry, and he cried, and the whole train carriage cried. We all thought maybe the border was opening. We were wrong. Continue reading