The Right to Return

The Right to Return etchings excavate my immigrant history. Exhibited at the Hallie Ford Museum, the prints bear witness to my father's story of displacement and migration during the Partition of India. The dissection of the sub-continent resulted in over 15 million people displaced and 1.5 million killed in the summer of 1947. Lost at Sea, illustrates my family’s escape from the violence. The images depict my relatives fleeing by boat but remaining stranded in the Indian ocean for days before being rescued.

The Sikh man pictured in Cracking India was sourced from photographs taken by Margaret Bourke-White and the torn railroad map on the ground shows the vast network of trains that connected India. The trains became a site of communal violence during 1947.  Surprisingly few photographs of this world-changing exodus survive, and some of the best were taken by Margaret Bourke-White for LIFE.  From her scrupulously recorded notes, we learn this Sikh man was a farmer heading to India with his sick wife on his shoulders. The series blends Mithila folk art from my lost ancestral home and etching techniques to record time, memory, and loss.

To hear first-hand accounts of this history, visit the online THE 1947 PARTITION ARCHIVE.