“Love transcends borders,” I remember Manisha Gera Baswani saying, her voice carrying the weight of a sentiment that seemed to encapsulate the essence of her cross-border art exhibition, “Postcards From Home.” The memory of that conversation lingers as I dive into the heart of Baswani’s creative odyssey—a journey that unravels memories and stories weaving an unbreakable bond between India and Pakistan, stitched together by shared history, unity, and love.
Manisha’s artistic endeavor isn’t just an art exhibition—it’s an ode and testament to the resilience of the human spirit. “Postcards From Home” is a living narrative, a canvas that doesn’t just display images; it weaves a seamless tapestry across geographical and emotional divides.
I can vividly recall the moment we stepped into Museo Camera, and there they were, the scrolls—the tangible fragments of a dream Manisha had nurtured. The project germinated from her parents’ stories about India’s partition in 1947. Her parents, now in their eighties and nineties, continue to recount memories of their homes in Pakistan. Yet, as Manisha delved deeper, her curiosity expanded beyond her parents’ stories, leading her to unearth tales that resonated on both sides of the border.
With contributions from 47 artists spanning India and Pakistan, “Postcards From Home” evolved into a mosaic, a collective of shared experiences, personal reflections, and historical connections—all threaded together by the universal emotion of love. In this article, I invite you to embark on a journey into the heart of the exhibition, to explore personal stories, artistic epiphanies, and emotional connections that form the very essence of this endeavor.
Amidst the scrolls of time, Manisha shared her journey—an ongoing project, “Artist through the Lens,” capturing artists’ essence in their creative havens.
The penny dropped during one of her travels to Pakistan, as she encountered familiar narratives echoing the stories of her upbringing — stories of Partition, this time from the vantage point of the other side of the border. Pain, nostalgia, longing, and love for a ‘Home’ lost to time resonated in every tale.
Reflecting on this, Manisha shared, “I came back and I decided to bring these stories together.” This endeavor led to the documentation of 47 artists from both India and Pakistan, bound by the shared history of the 1947 Partition.
Her own history intertwined. Born to parents who knew pre-Partition India, stories of Quetta and Sargodha knit her into a tapestry of the past. These poignant narratives underpin “Postcards From Home’s” growth.
Speaking of Pakistani artist Ahmed Khan, Manisha recounts, “I met him through a friend, Naeem, who took me to his studio. And he got talking and of course there were a lot of cups of chai and wonderful conversations but at the end of it he just held my hand and said, “Beta, you are the first Indian I have met after 1947. So I’m so glad that before I can leave this earth I have met an Indian.” And that’s his story.”
The act of sharing these stories, she realized, was a balm that healed the storytellers as much as it did the listeners. These narratives held within them a quiet hope, a belief that memories need not fade into the sands of time.
As we spoke, it became evident that these echoes had become a symphony within her, an orchestra compelling her to inscribe these tales onto a more enduring canvas. And so, “Postcards From Home” was born—a collection that holds the whispered memories of homes lost and found.
The exhibition seamlessly weaves together images of artists in their studios, accompanied by their narratives. This labor of love garnered support not only within India but also from across the border, a testament to the timeless truth that love transcends boundaries.
“I didn’t think for the longest time that art can heal from its content,” Manisha shared with a smile. “I mean if you look at the work of art it brings you joy but can it shift perspectives? I think in a very small way I did when I showed it in Lahore…”
As I look back on that conversation, I am reminded of the profound impact art can have—the stories it can tell, the bridges it can build, and the wounds it can heal.
And today, as India commemorates its 75th Independence Day and contemplates 75 years since Partition—an event that forcibly uprooted millions—Baswani’s work stands as a testament to the enduring scars and untold tales of that tumultuous period offering a canvas where love and humanity triumph over borders.