Meetup # 48 Books on the Indian Sub-continent Partition

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history. “– Martin Luther King, Jr.

I believe one’s voyage with the subject history at school is quite universal unless off course one is blessed with remarkable teachers. For me it started in class 3rd I could barely understand the mumble jumble of the history section of the social science textbook (which was divided in three parts). Geography was fascinating, Civics was tolerable and History was meant to be mugged up because well one can’t argue with already established dates, names and events. But then the narratives got interesting, though History was mostly a reading class yet chain of reactions set by some ruler some 500 years ago and its far reaching repercussions started making sense to me. I finally started enjoying the subject which many dreaded. By the time I could start thinking for myself and really question the matter that was served to us in the form of some very convenient and restricted study material in History, I had to leave it for the scoring Commerce stream. I hope the ones who took this subject later in life have a better ending/ongoing tryst to their story.

‘Not forever does the bulbul sing

In balmy shades of bowers

Not forever lasts the spring

Not ever blossom the flowers

Not forever reigneth joy,

Sets the sun on days of bliss,

Friendships not forever last,

They know not life, who know not this.’ – Khushwant Singh

The topic for the 48th meetup of Jaipur Book Lovers’ was ‘Books about the Indian Sub continental Partition’ and it took all of us on an individual journey with the subject. For some it was the real life accounts of the events that spoke volumes and some were moved by the fictional narratives of the partition. The literature on Partition as one of the members mentioned could be divided into memoirs, diaries, travelogues, short stories, novels, interviews, poems, letters, speeches, historical accounts facts and figures. Each has its own beauty (which is a kind of paradox because there wasn’t anything beautiful about the partition).

The role of national leaders like Gandhi and Nehru was discussed along with the various narratives of women who were abducted or raped during that tumultuous period. From stories and actions which were banned during struggle for Independence and Partition under Section 124-A to how the event is taught in schools in just the terminology of facts and figures was discussed.

One of the most important points of discussion was the vicious and still quite visible repercussions of Partition. Be it in jest when both countries poke fun at each other to the more serious times when allegations and hatred is thrown across the border like a Frisbee. In a day and age when one could sit down and discuss and debate, the wounds of Partition often peek out of the garb of modernization and ignorance that both nations feign.

Writers are often prophets and words of Saadat Hasan Manto still hold true in this day and age -‘Hindustan had become free. Pakistan had become independent soon after its inception but man was still slave in both these countries –slave of prejudice…slave of religious fanaticism…slave of barbarity and inhumanity.’

Some of the books discussed were:-

  1. Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins
  2. Indian Summer by Alex Von Tunzelmann
  3. Midnight Furies by Nisid Hajari
  4. Tamas by Bhisham Sahni
  5. Pinjar by Amrita Pritam
  6. Pakistan or The Partition of India by Dr. B.R. Amedkar
  7. Twilight at Delhi by Ahmed Ali
  8. Pather Dabi by Sarat Chandra Chatterjee
  9. Yaruingam by Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya
  10. If I’m Assassinated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
  11. Mottled Down by Saadat Hasan Manto
  12. Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh
  13. Train to India: Memories of Another Bengal by Maloy Krishna
  14. Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse


Author of this Article is Yashasvini Rathore.

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