Troubled Pilgrimage: Passage to Pakistan – Balwant Bhaneja
Troubled Pilgrimage: A Passage to Pakistan is about a journey by the author, a retired Canadian diplomat, who is visiting his ancestral land of Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan, the first visit since he was five. Bhaneja’s Hindu family had to leave their homeland following the Partition of the Indian subcontinent in August 1947.
The author’s journey begins at the Birla House in New Delhi, India where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist over sixty years ago, from where he travels into Pakistan during the troubled and violent spring of 2006. The reader is taken through bustling Islamabad, the back streets of the author’s birthplace Lahore, and to the more remote, and mysterious towns of Sukkur, Rohiri, and Shikarpur in Upper Sindh, the ancestral land from which he and his family were exiled. After revelations about his past, his nation and his people he returns to Delhi for an audience with the “Refugee” Prime Minister I.K. Gujral.
The trans-cultural narrative deals with the universal theme of displacement and how it impacts mind and psyche of those involved. It is a thoughtful work about how our multiple identities shape and get played out in a globalized world. What makes some to leave their homelands while others to stay on despite fears and uncertaint