The recently quoted "unfinished business of partition" brings to mind the legacy of the "Great Game" played over and over in Asia since 1800s and which has Kashmir as its newest "prey" if we go by the imperial language in a postcolonial world. The Partition of India was the Partition of the British Indian Empire that led to the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan (it later split into the Pakistan and Bangladesh) and the Union of India (later Republic of India) on 15 August 1947. In the riots which preceded the partition in the Punjab region, between 200,000 to 500,000 people were killed in the retributive genocide. UNHCR estimates that 14 million people - Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims - were displaced during the Partition; it was the largest mass migration in human history. Also the two newly formed countries went to war over Kashmir, a princely state, dividing it forever and creating a decades-old sore which continues to fester and refuses to heal. 

In his New Yorker article 'The Great Divide', William Dalrymple discusses the violent legacy of the Indian Partition. He describes that, "...across the Indian subcontinent , communities that had coexisted for almost a millennium attacked each other in a terrifying outbreak of sectarian violence, with Hindus and Sikhs on one side and Muslims on the other - a mutual genocide as unexpected as it was unprecedented. He goes on to say that, "…by 1948, as the great migration drew to a close, more than fifteen million people had been uprooted, and between one and two million were dead...Partition is central to modern identity in the Indian subcontinent , as the Holocaust is to identity among the Jews, branded painfully onto the regional consciousness by memories of almost unimaginable violence. He goes on to quote the acclaimed Pakistani historian Ayesha Jalal defining the partition as "the central historical event in the twentieth century South Asia." 

Current history and the goings on of the subcontinent prove Ayesha Jalal correct in saying that the Partition "...is a defining moment that is neither beginning nor end, partition continues to influence how the people's and states of postcolonial South Asia envisage their past, present and future." It doesn't take an expert bent of mind to imagine the kind of trauma that the ghastly memories, shattered identities, blown up harmony among communities, the hatred, mistrust and resentment that must have been passed on from generations to a settled post-traumatic stress disorder collectively and individually. Yet there have been resilient stories among the Punjabis and Bengalis – the largest communities affected by the partition. If one goes by the stories on The 1947 Partition Archive, one can see that sheer grit, determination and the natural instinct to survive enabled individuals and whole communities to not only rebuild their lives but thrive. 

We do not have studies as yet to support the idea that the Punjabis and Bengalis are naturally very resilient but along discussion boards, one thing stands out. These much affected individuals and families rarely display a collective "victim mentality" that is so apparent with survivors of conflict and war. Rebuilding their lives stoically and with nonchalance, people from the Punjab and Bengal show characteristic industriousness and academic acumen. As the world moved into the Space Age and the social sciences gained ground in wellbeing and health, it became staggeringly evident how much of trauma these communities had absorbed. 

When soldiers returning from World War II showed symptoms of what we today call post-traumatic-stress-disorder, or PTSD, little was known about this and doctors, families, institutions apart from the individuals themselves had to struggle to come to terms with this nerve-shattering and life-destroying disorder. Posttraumatic stress disorder may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as major stress, sexual assault, terrorism, or other threats on a person's life. The diagnosis may be given when a group of symptoms, such as disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyper-arousal, continue for more than a month after the occurrence of a traumatic event. 

Today there are health clinics for the treatment and every day in numerous ways more and more people are becoming aware of the effects of this disorder and how to cope with it. Why I particularly mention this disorder is because to rebuild lives it is pertinent that the individual become a contributing member of society. And this disorder manifests all the symptoms that do not allow a person to integrate back into the mainstream. 

One of the most famous, or I should say now infamous, fictional characters with PTSD is John Rambo, from the movie First Blood adapted from the 1972 novel by David Morrell. Rambo, a Vietnam War veteran unravels on the first instance of an encounter with authority and the whole novel as well as movie plot is about his will to "hide" well so that no one can get to him. Though war veterans are the most at risk for PTSD, it can even develop in ordinary men and women who have been through a traumatic event. And the partition was by no means an ordinary event. Saadat Hasan Manto, a short story writer of the Urdu language and famous in both India and Pakistan captured the pain and grief of those times quite successfully and to critical acclaim. In his 1955 short story Toba Tek Singh, Saadat created the unforgettable Bishan Singh, a mental asylum inmate, who is part of an exchange of prisoners between the two recently divided countries. 

Bishan Singh who is from the town of Toba Tek Singh is sent under police escort to India as part of the exchange. Upon hearing that his hometown is now in Pakistan, he refuses to go and amid his nonsensical mutterings in a mix of Punjabi, Urdu, and English he lies down between barbed wire refusing to yield. In my opinion, Bishan Singh's mind is typical of PTSD, which has now become popular in his indirect pejorative of both India and Pakistan - "upar di gur gur di annexe di bedhiyana di moong di daal of di Pakistan and Hindustan of di durr phitey muhn", which translated means: "the inattention of the annexe of the rumbling upstairs of the dal of moong of the Pakistan and India of the go to bloody hell!" Bishan Singh embodies what many individuals whose voices could not be recorded or written down must have felt when 'the great divide' happened. 

Kashmiri mothers saw teenagers and young men quietly disappearing into the mountains across because they wanted to prove they were Rambos, but sadly many came back as Bishan Singh to the unnamed land between barbed wire – his Toba Tek Singh – lying either beneath white marble grave stones or above it shuffling to wait their time out.

Rebuilding means letting go of the past. Rebuilding lives means rebuilding minds. And like the collective courage and industriousness that the Punjabis and Bengalis showed to rebuild their respective communities into one of the greatest contributors to humanity, can the Kashmiris find it in themselves to move on the collective victim mentality and try to treat the collective disorder that is the legacy of the partition? That is the big question.