Book Reviews

Partition as Reception

Partition as Reception: A Critical Study of Indian Partition Literature in Translation
Editor: Dr. P V Laxmiprasad, New Delhi
Author Press, ISBN: 978-93-5529-493-7, Pp 122, 2023.

Indian partition holds serious interest for the readers across the world. It was a historical tragedy all the way. For academicians, the only form of Partition is evidently available through literature. There were original writings and translations. The editorial expertise of P V Laxmiprasad is possessed with strength and vigour in his judicious selection of themes for his edited volumes. One such book is Partition as Reception: A Critical Study of Indian Partition Literature in Translation. Through this edited volume the editor reveals to the world the trauma faced during partition. P V Laxmiprasad’s focus rests on partition literature in translation, because regional literature depicted partition literature in the truest form.

The present generation knows Pakistan and India as neighbouring countries, but there was a time when both the countries were part of Hindustan. The 75th year of independence of Pakistan and India is also marked as the anniversary of annus horribillis. The scar of the partition is fresh in the minds of the people who have suffered due to communal riots. Partition is one of the twentieth century’s most inglorious episodes of communal acrimony which manifested religious, ethnic, racial and national discrimination. The common cultural heritage of the land and the harmony of religion and culture were divided in the guise of partition. Many writers have expressed their own sufferings and what they have witnessed during partition. These writings portray the collective and individual pain of suffering of the victims. The younger generation comes to know of the pain and suffering through vernacular languages and many works have been translated into English for the wide masses.

Eight critics have evaluated the works on partition literature and each critic has chosen a different genre and a different writer except two, but all the critics have unanimously written on the loss of humanity and the pain endured during partition and post partition.

The first chapter entitled “A Village Divided – An Exemplification of Reza’s Faith in the Regeneration of Culture, Village and Home” written by Lily Arul Sharmila visualises India without borders, the necessity for struggle and survival amidst chaos and the onward progress of life and the ever growing and expanding Indian consciousness. The second Chapter “Bhishmi Sahni’s Tamas: Testimony to the Gritty Political Espionage” by Sheeba S. Nair warns the people against the ill-effects of religion as a weapon to gain political power. The people of culturally diverse land preferred peace and prosperity and they inculcated the qualities of tolerance and brotherhood, but such a peace is shattered due to the villainous intelligence of British authorities. The central concern of the novel is the riots which were instigated by a cunning plan. The lack of empathy on the part of British officials and the religious atrocity had driven men mad destroying everyone and everything on their way. The critic is of the same view of the author Bisham Sahni that the only solution to extinguish the fire of hatred is LOVE.

The third chapter entitled “Ikramullah’s Regret: A Study of Two Novellas as Partition Induced Lessons in Equality Based on the Bond of Humanity” by Dr. D.Gnanasekeran is a regret of thebotched society.The volume Regret consist of two novellas, the first part “Regret” portrays the friendship of Eshan and Saeed and the difference in their characters. The Second World War passed an electric current through India’s politics. Brotherhood and the emotional bond that existed between Hindus and Muslims disappeared suddenly. The critic has focussed on the concept that the temperament of religious fanaticism during partition still exists in India and enunciates the fact that a country’s prosperity is marked by religious harmony.

The other novella “Out of Sight” daringly exposes the pot hole within the same religious community. The people who dreamed for an independent country were not really independent, the lowest are always persecuted, this novella concentrates on the persecution of the Ahmadis , a religious minority within Islam in Pakistan. The Ahmadis were considered as Non-Muslims. The pressure of personal wants changes men’s attitude, selfishness and unprincipled conduct reined the hearts of the upper class. “Regret” is a discovery of social class, and political difference in the eyes of children. Both the novellas are a lesson to mankind based on the bond of humanity eliminating man made divisions. The critic insists on a land of Utopia as stated by Thomas More.

The fourth chapter entitled “Imtizar Hussain’sBasti – A Memoir of Partition : Intermingled Subjective Memory with Collective Memory” by Ayodhya Kalyan Jadhav spotlights that Partition in a way has brought a psychological strain in the minds of the people. The critic through the work of Hussain brings to limelight the suffering and homelessness of the people and the rich culture and sweet memories in India. Each festival in India is a vehicle of happiness and has its own value but displacement and devastation has devalued the happiness of the people. Moreover, the dominance of the Patriarchal society and the marginalisation of women and the psychological implications are dealt by the critic in this chapter.

The fifth chapter entitled “Revisiting and Remembering the Outré tale of Woe in Muhammad Ummar Memon’s An Unwritten Epic” by Mary Josephine Jerina is an evaluation of the collection of Short Stories written by various writers in Urdu and translated into English. The collection is divided into two sections Partition and Post Partition. A linear thread connects all the short stories based on loss of humanity, horror, bloodshed, abduction and nostalgia. Women like Lajwanti and Bahu who are abducted suffer the pain even after years. The critic also highlights that the layman has no vengeance for his neighbours, only a few who are fanatic follow the British principle “divide and rule”.

In many short stories, the author has also revealed the positive side of the people during the traumatic situation, a person of one community helps the other, that humanity is the essential need in each man’s life. The communal riots during partition have led to too much death. The criticwhiplashes that man is reckless and still clings on to life at the terrible cost of conflict and insists on humanity to make the world a better place.

The sixth chapter “Trauma of Aliya in the Novel The Woman’s Courtyard by Khadija Mastur” by R. Manimozhi and Karthik Kumar is another depiction of the personal experiences of the people during partition. The critics have focused on the positive side of the protagonist who takes control of her life and becomes the bread winner of her family. Women suffered most during partition but women like Aliya also transform their lives but the tragic occurrences in their lives leave them terrified and helpless and undergo traumatic stress.

The seventh chapter titled “BhishamSahni’s Tamas: A Symbol of Trauma, and Anguish of Partition” by Palakurthy Dinakar is about the cordial relationship that vanished during partition. The focal point of this chapter is that each community tried to persecute the other. People were uprooted which created instability and led to anguish and trauma. Some reprobates enjoyed the pathetic condition of the poor and the weak.

The eighth chapter titled “Sadat Hasan Manto’s ToboTek Singh: Diverse Concerns of Partition Literature as reflected in Translation” by Dr. Tamali Neogi is different from the rest of the articles. This chapter lays emphasis on the condition of the people in lunatic asylum at Lahore. The author satirically portrays the nationalism, of the political leaders. The critic analyses the tragedy of partition, the madness related to it, the crucial issues concerning partition and the lost identities of victims of partition.

Thus, according to the editor “The brutality lingers in the minds of the people who were either of those affected families or those who stood witnesses to this destruction. Trauma haunts them just it haunts us as readers.” This book by Dr P V Laxmiprasad is homage for those who have lost their lives during partition, a soothing effect for the victims and a revelation to the modern world of the effects of partition.

Through this book the editor has not only made known to the present generation the angst of partition but also the magic of words that confront the harsh reality with strength. Moreover, the authors and the critics manifest the horrendous situation and evoke the senses of a restless country due to communal riots and displacement.

Further, through communal riots humanism has shrivelled to the status of noxious prejudice. It is a nicely edited book on Indian partition just when India was celebrating 75 years of independence. Partition wounds trigger our minds in mental, physical and psychological brutalities. Truly, the book pays homage to those victims of Partition in 1947.


More by :  Prof. Dr. Mary Josephine Jerina

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Views: 652      Comments: 3

Comment A really impressive review.Many dimensions of Partition have been explored.

11-Jul-2023 05:17 AM

Comment The book on Partition is a significant one in the context of British Policy of Divide and Rule. Horrors linger in the minds of people. Laxmiprasad edited this book brilliantly. The reviewer has done a really nice work. Congratulations.

Dharmapuri Neelima
27-Jun-2023 08:21 AM

Comment Through this book the editor has not only made known to the present generation the angst of partition but also the magic of words that confront the harsh reality with strength. Moreover, the authors and the critics manifest the horrendous situation and evoke the senses of a restless country due to communal riots and displacement.

Dr.KJ Redy
05-May-2023 01:28 AM

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