Surviving War Propaganda

First Person

Surviving War Propaganda

I

was only eight years old when the 1971 war broke out. Although I have trouble remembering details of events from that year, I can’t forget overhearing a conversation between my mother and our neighbour in Kanpur that triggered panic. “I heard they are covering the Taj Mahal in jute,” the woman told mom. She took a minute to catch her breath and continued. “I don’t know how safe we are.”

A sense of hysteria had gripped the country that cold December. Every piece of information was magnified, every rumour acquired credibility. Kanpur, where I lived with my family, was on edge. My father was a government officer and was the first among us to hear chatter about where the war was headed and he warned us not to fall for the rumours. But I couldn’t get the jute-covered Taj Mahal out of my head. If the Taj Mahal wasn’t safe, what was?

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