Zindagi maut na ban jaaye, by Lata Jagtiani

“What difference will it make?”
“It’s easy to say!”

Two lines, but two lines that we have heard almost on a daily basis from someone or the other, if not from oneself.

A couple of decades ago, we were enjoying our starters over dinner and drinks with a couple of friends. The cricket season was on, and everyone was talking about the India Pak match that was impending. Hot discussions were everywhere and, naturally, found their way to our cosy table of eight. It appeared that Pakistan was not a favourite with the bookies (who had not yet been de-legitimised then). A guest who I have always respected and still do, happened to happily mention that he had placed a bet against an India win (even though he was sure India would win) and placed it on a Pakistan win instead. Seemed harmless enough for others there, but I ventured to ask him if he didn’t feel a vague sense of unease at placing bets like these which went against the country’s win, the country’s morale, while it reinforced the country which has been skewed in its values and has waged wars with us, killing so many soldiers and leaving so many families bereft of the head of the family.

We were seated in a club on the road called Prem Ramchandani Marg, which is the road that leads from the Gateway of India to Radio club. He was unaware of the name of the road, unaware of the man who had laid down his life thanks to the duplicity of Pakistan while having talks with India to end the war. But let that be. With assets that could take care of a few generations in his family, he was still betting against India. He uttered the words that pierce my heart,
“What difference will it make if I bet on India instead? At least I can hope to make a windfall from a Pakistan win.”

Pakistan did win. India did lose.
In more ways than one was I dismayed.

In the spiritual realm people hear day in and day out “be honest, be dutiful, be compassionate.” Wonder how honest he was when he betted against India, how much of his dharma he had been true to, and how compassionate he was to the lives of those who got martyred. When confronted with these questions, most people retaliate with, “It’s easy for you to say…”

Zindagi maut na ban jaaye sambhaalo yaaro…

Ek Taraf Pyaar Hai, Chaahat Hai, Wafadari Hai
Ek Taraf Desh Mein, Desh Mein
Ek Taraf Desh Mein, Dhoka Hai, Gaddari Hai…
Chand Sikko Ke Liye, Tum Na Karo Kaam Bura
Na Karo Kaam Bura, Na Karo Kaam Bura…

Happy Independence day…this nation is better than its Siamese twin because so many of us said, “it makes a difference and yes, it’s not easy to do but we did it.”

(Footnote: Prem Ramchandani has one of the most important chapters in my book Sindhi Reflections on the Partition of India and the Sindhi experience of it, I was lucky to interview his 90-year-old weeping father Ram Ramchandani who narrated the greatness of that young man whose life was snuffed out by our envious neighbour Pakistan. When copies of my book arrived, the first copy to go out of my hands, after being blessed by my parents, went to the great Ram Ramchandani).

Music: Jatin Pandit, Lalit Pandit
Lyrics: Israr Ansari
Singers: Roop Kumar Rathod, Sonu Nigam


Originally published on Independence Day 15 August 2018

Lata Jagtiani is an author of several books including the biography, ‘OP Nayyar King of Melody’. She has been a lecturer both in India and abroad teaching English and Creative Writing to college students. She lives in Mumbai.





One Reply to “Zindagi maut na ban jaaye, by Lata Jagtiani”

  1. What a remarkable intro Lata_()_ I have always known you to be nationalistic, and supportive of whoever is so, no matter what he does, where he comes from, that you’ll bend over backwards to root for him. But if I was present at that dinner, I do not remember it, nor of course, that person who bet on Pakistan. I am sorry that country has gone so speedily down, within my lifetime, even as I love dozens of people there. I have known them personally in Dubai and in my visits to Pakistan or when they have come here. perfectly nice, caring people, just like you and me…but they have been swept away by an absence of leadership…even morality in public life. I always say India is sick, but there’s always some hope. While Pakistan is clearly hopeless now. As for this film, i saw it thrice, which means I thought this was a great film, in the Jeffrey Archer cinema equivalent of page turning stuff! The songs were wonderful too, and this one electrifies me. But now, your intro, what a super wow ma’am 🙂

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