So, although Arts Council England were supposed to have announced the results of their long-awaited investment decisions on Wednesday 26 October, this was delayed yesterday with a decision due ‘in the coming days’. The better news today is that they confirmed today that all applicants will receive a decision on Friday 4 November.
So, our re-imaginings can continue a little bit longer.
Today’s reflection: गम से फखर तक का आखिरी सफर: hearing the student voice in Jalandhar, India
Educational reform informed by creativity and cultural education is a global phenomenon. China, Singapore and Korea are some of the world’s major nations which are looking to creative and cultural methodologies to provide them with a new approach to teaching and learning and in recent months, we have developed a strong relationship with the Ivy Education Group in India who share our vision of transforming children and young people’s lives through creativity and cultural education.
This relationship led me to being invited to visit 6 Ivy Education Schools in the Jalandhar area of the Punjab, in order to establish exchanges between our organisations, teachers, students and universities across the Midlands.
This was an exciting prospect at the turn of the year but about two weeks before I arrived in Jalandhar, tension in the area escalated rapidly after a convoy of army vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a suicide bomber in the Pulwama district of Kashmir on 14 February: St. Valentines Day.
The attack resulted in the deaths of 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel and the attacker: the responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed. Kashmir is fiercely contested by India and Pakistan and three wars have been fought since Britain partitioned the country in 1947. The importance of cultural and creative education became more charged than I had expected when I was planning my visit at the turn of the year.
In the short time I was there, I presented the work of The Mighty Creatives to over 1,200 students, parents and teachers and was humbled by the welcome everyone showed me and the interest they expressed in the work we do across the Midlands.
One overwhelming memory was a poem written by a young student, Simran Bhardwaj, from Cambridge International School in Phagwara. As part of the school’s welcome, she read out her tribute poem, गम से फखर तक का आखिरी सफर (The Last Trip from Gam to Fakhar.)
Shown below in Hindi and its English translation, she mourns how a day dedicated to love became a day of tragedy through the eyes of a dying soldier. Her performance reminded me that whilst newspaper reports and academic papers explain something of our history, it takes the word of the poet and the voices of children to provide a deeper insight into our humanity and the struggles in which we find ourselves.
There are no solutions to the region’s conflicts in Simran’s poetry and no objective analysis of the historical factors which have led to the current situation: just the clear, direct and plaintive voice of a young child whose past and future lives have been, and will be, informed by that regional conflict.
गम से फखर तक का आखिरी सफर
मज़िल थी बड़ी दूर जनाब,
पर हमें में भी कम नहीं थे देश सेवा के जज़्बात…..
बाँध कफन सिर्फ़ पर और हाथों में लिए बंदूक,
घाटी की हसीन वादियों से निकल रहे थे हम……..
कभी घाटी की ख़ूबसूरती को निहारते,
तो कभी बीते हुए वक़्त से अपने परिवार की यादों को……
पर हुआ ही ना एहसास हमें कि वक़्त बदल रहा है अपनी करवट,
दिल में मेरे मची थी एक अजीब सी हरकत…….
मंज़िल की दूरी जैसे-जैसे हो रही थी कम,
वैसे ही हमारे क़ाफ़िले से जा टकराए यहाँ हमारी मौत का वो आख़िरी बम…….
एक झटके में टूटी हमारी साँसों की डोरी,
फिर भी जारी थी हमारी ज़िंदगी और मौत से एक आख़िरी सीनाज़ोरी……
चाहकर भी चल ना सका बस हमारा,
आख़िर टूट ही गया जो देश से था वादा हमारा……..
ए ख़ुदा काश़ तु बख़श देता कुछ मोहलत इन कम्बख्त साँसों को,
तो इतना बता जाता कि……
ग़म ये नहीं की शहादत नसीब हुई,
पर ग़म और शिकायत तो उसके तरीक़े से है…….
ग़म ये नहीं की शहादत नसीब हुई,
पर ग़म इस बात का है कि आख़िरी बार माँ भारती की सेवा न कर सका……..
ग़म ये नहीं कि मेरी हम सफ़र का साथ छूट गया,
पर ग़म इस बात का है कि उसका मंगलसूत्र उतर गया……..
ग़म ये नहीं कि मोहब्बत के दिन फ़ना मैं हो गया,
पर ग़म ये है कि अपनी हम सफ़र से किये वो वादे मैं अधूरे छोड़ गया……
ग़म ये नहीं कि मेरे बच्चों के ऊपर से बाप का साया छिन गया,
पर ग़म ये है कि अपनी ही औलाद को पहली नज़र भी ना देख सका………
ग़म ये नहीं कि मेरे माँ-बाप के बुढ़ापे की लाठी छिन गयी,
पर ग़म ये है कि जिन बाँहों में बचपन बीता आज उन्हीं बाँहों को सुनी छोड़ आया हूँ, तड़पता छोड़ आया हूँ………
सुना है खुदा आख़िरी वक़्त पर इन्सान झूठ नहीं बोलता,
तो आज अपने इस आख़िरी वक़्त में मैं भी अपना एक आख़िरी सच बता जाता हूँ,
कि मुझे ग़म से ज़्यादा फ़ख्र है……
फ़ख्र है इस बात का कि मैं एक हिंदुस्तानी सपूत हूँ …..
फ़ख्र है इस बात का कि माँ भारती ने मुझे चुना है अपनी सेवा के लिए……
फ़ख्र है इस बात का कि मोहब्बत के दिन अपने मुल्क से मोहब्बत मैं निभा सका…..
फ़ख्र है इस बात का कि मेरे प्राणों की आहुति मेरे देश के लिए थी…….
फख़्र है इस बात का कि आख़िरी वक़्त में भी मेरे तन पर सेना की वर्दी थी और मेरी आँखें फख़्र से ऊपर थी…….
फख़्र है इस बात का कि सोने चाँदी के बदले मेरा कफन तिरंगा था, मेरा कफन तिरंगा था,मेरा कफन तिरंगा था…..
The Last Trip from Gam to Fakhar
The destination was very far away,
But we also had high enthusiasm for serving our sacred motherland……
Tying shrouds on our heads and having rifles in our hands,
Passing through the valley of Kashmir the only heaven on earth……..
Sometimes beholden with the beauty of valley,
And sometimes lost in the memories of my family from the time passed by……….
But we didn’t realised that time is transforming itself,
Though I felt a strange movement from depth of my heart……….
As the destination was coming closer and closer,
The bomb of our death on the moving vehicle approached our convoy………
Just with one jerk the string of our life was broken,
Still we were continuing our struggle between our life and death for one last time…………
Trying our best to assert our will on our pre-decided destiny of ultimate death,
But we weren’t able to do so………
At last the promise to our motherland was broken……
Oh Almighty! I wish that you had lend me with some more breathes, so that I could tell everyone that:
Grief isn’t about being martyred,
But my complaint is about the way of being martyred……
Grief isn’t about my death being so early,
But my sorrow is about being not able to render my services to my nation for last time……
Grief isn’t about leaving my better half forever,
But my pain is for that her wedding necklace has been removed and her vermilion is cleared after my death…….
Grief isn’t about that I had died on the day of love,
But my sadness is about the promises which I made to my better half that will remained incomplete……..
Grief isn’t about that my children has lost the shade of their father over their heads,
But my mourning is being for the reason that I wasn’t able to see my child’s face even for first time……….
Grief isn’t about that my parents had lost their only support of old age,
But my regret is about that I had left those arms vacant and yearning in which I had grown…….
Oh God ! I had heard that at the time of death a person never lies. So, today at my final and last stage I shall tell my final and last truth of my life to this whole world that instead of being in grief I am highly proud:
I am proud of being an Indian warrior….
I am proud that Mother Bharat has chosen me for her service…….
I am proud of being able to fulfil my love for my motherland on the day of love……
I am proud that at my last movement my eyes were open high with pride…..
I am proud that at last movement also I was wearing the uniform of army on my body…….
I am proud that my life has been laid down for my country……
I am proud that instead of gold and silver my shroud was our national flag tirangaa, our national flag tirangaa.
By Simran Bhardwaj, February 2019
My time in Jalandhar was short, and my time with Ivy Education schools very sweet: albeit infused with the taste of tension in the airspace and on the land those two great nations occupy. Hopefully the voices of the poets and the country’s young people will be heard in the weeks to come and that a longer period of peaceful international relations will prevail.
Or if neither of these is possible (and heaven knows we’re all in tough financial times right now), then anything you can do to share and shout about the campaign would be equally welcomed and appreciated.