Mohinder Thukral relives the horror of Partition through his book Vandd


Talking about Partition times, Mohinder Thukral’s voice quivers, eyes turn red and one sees a deep resolve in them–not to have a repeat of that fateful past. Thukral, who was barely one, when the bloodbath took place, has called Jalandhar home ever since.

Picking up the pieces of life, and having lost some of the family members, his family has moved on, but the scars remain. The story of these scars makes for the theme of his book, titled Vandd.

Five self-portraits, a 100-year-old family sword, four digital prints and an audio-visual presentation of Thukral doing gatka are on display at the exhibition organised by Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi.

An artist and a wrestler, Thukral recalls the stories his elders shared with him. Just about one, Thukral was thrown into Ravi, only to be saved by his masi, who lost her three sons in the bloodbath. “I have seen deep scars on my grandfather’s back. He was a tall, robust man. Nobody dared to attack him from the front, so they attacked from the back,”

Thukral’s eyes well up talking about the wounds of the past. He recalls how his sister was saved as her school staff hid them and his brothers walked for days. “My mother and masi jumped into the river to save themselves. My father jumped from the third floor of his home onto a mound of corpses to get away from macabre dance of death that took place in Sialkot and my grandfather not just fought his assaulters, he also had to chop off a piece of flesh of his leg with his kirpan as a snake bit him when he fell into a dirty nallah while fighting. Without food, or family, and a future so uncertain, our elders still made way and started from a scratch.”

The current state of affairs bothers Thukral, a feted artist. But he sees hope in talks. “There would always be issues, every family has it. But the way forward is not fighting but talking,” he says.

The exhibition also saw the release of his book Vandd (The Divide – Bantwara) that captures Thukral’s journey.

“With this exhibition, the Akademi intends to contribute in the continuation of a dialogue by revisiting the wounds of the unpleasant past, not to hurt but to find means to heal them in the hope of a beautiful future,” puts artist Diwan Manna, president Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi.

On till November 19 at Punjab Kala Bhawan-16.

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