Book Reviews

Partition as Reception

Partition as Reception:
A Critical Study of Indian Partition Literature in Translation
Editor: P.V. Laxmiprasad, Authorspress, New Delhi, 2023,
ISBN: 978-93-5529-493-7 Pp. 122 Rs. 795/-

The critical book entitled Partition as Reception: A Critical Study of Indian Partition Literature in Translation is edited by Indian scholar P.V. Laxmiprasad. In his preface, Laxmiprasad writes that the Partition literature is still relevant considering the historical tragedy as something that cruelly changed the course of innocent lives. It is still afresh in the minds of the victims. More than the victims’ tale of unending woes, it has occupied the readers through literature that sustains even after 75 years of Indian freedom. It has contents well researched papers on Partition. It covers Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu translations in English. It is an innovative one too considering the first hand experiences by the authors at the time of partition.

In the first paper, Lily Arul Sharmila has studied A Village Divided – An exemplification of Reza’s Faith in the Regeneration of Culture, Village and Home. She writes that the author visualizes the India without borders. India is a land of meditation, achievement and accomplishment. It is a land that embraces the rest of humanity. The lack of thoughts in India disorganizes without control over the vital. Things structured, organized, formed and sculptured as languages find amalgamation. Sufficient common types of civilization must be processed with intensity of emotion, sublimity of thoughts language cultivated, variety, multiplicity commonality, general leveling and uniformity, fossilized new organism mental vital habits, infinite variety identity and multiplication of instances. The novel delivers a continuous stream of destructive consequences and the cultural trauma, involving extensive loss of life, mass slaughter of people, butchery carnage and death. It deals with the full intensity of excessive violence in course of dominant dialogues of history. The central metaphor being Moharram, in commemoration of the death of the prophet produces an atmosphere for their annual purgation through poetry, narrating the events of Karbala. The contents of the novel formed highlight the enrichment of the phenomena such as fight and fall in love, the back drop of Indian national politics, Quit India Movement, the land reforms, abolishing large estates the historical perspectives of the events, provincial legislative assemblies, and first general elections in India, course through vibrantly. In the second paper, Sheeba S Nair has studied Bhisham Sahni’s Tamas: Testimony to the Gritty Political Espionage. Sahni’s Tamas though written in 1974 is set at the time when the empire of colonization was experiencing its ruin and when Indian freedom struggle conquered over the military power of the British who were on the verge of quitting India. The novel narrates how the intelligent British machinery as a last ditch tries to play on the religious beliefs of the people. The intelligent British administrator Richard finds out that the effective way to shatter the unity of the Indians is to play with their religious beliefs which run deep in their blood. Being a good administrator, he feels the pulse of the people and perceives that religion can be a trump card, and a very effective force. The uniqueness of this Partition fiction is that it does not have a usual story line that narrates the story of a protagonist. Tamas has in fact no protagonist. If one has to find a central character around which the story is spun, then it must be the riots. As a matter of fact, it is the series of riot that continue to take place in India after the Independence of which Sahni himself is a living witness kindled him to write this book. In the third paper, Gnanasekaran has examined Ikramullah’s Regret: A Study of Two Novellas as Partition-induced Lessons in Equality Based on the Bond of Humanity. This novella is a quietly persuasive account of how groups of people are incited to violence, and how the consciousness of power can incite a majority to behave with a minority. Maybe it does not have the evocative power of ‘Regret’. But ‘Out of Sight’ reveals a writer of courage and beauty. One hopes more of Ikramullah will come our way in English before too long. Both the novellas strive to give mankind lessons in equality based on the bond of humanity by eliminating all man-made divisions. In the fourth paper, Ayodhya kalian Jadhav takes up Intizar Hussain’s Basti for an evaluation. His celebrated novel Basti was first originally published in Urdu and later on almost after twenty-six years the novel is translated into English by W. Pritchett in 1995 and emerged as a genre and a part of partition literature into the realm of mainstream literature. And perhaps because of translation in English the novel Basti received a wider readership and won the “Man Booker International Prize” in 2013. In Basti (settlement) Hussain reflects nostalgic memories of childhood, disintegration of values, a sense of loss, anxiety, uncertainty, loss of identity, a heartfelt memory of past and frustration. He has used the technique of flashback to connect the past with the present. Basti is set in Pakistan in the backdrop of partition. Unlike Bhisham Sahni’s Tamas, Initizar Hussian writes about the emotional and psychological complications in Basti whereas Sahni writes about more physical violence in the form of physical things such as murders, looting, burning and suicides.

In the fifth paper, Mary Josephine Aruna has critically evaluated Umar Memon’s An Unwritten Epic. Muhammad Umar Memon’s translation of An Epic Unwritten appeals not merely in its details but in the overall ethos of its considerations of evil. Memon’s collection tokens the seductive power of fine fiction and almost primitive vulnerability to stores regardless of analytic acumen. His book is not just an inexorable fragmentation and exile from a sane world but of slow redemption from communal suffering through the quiet, idiosyncratic struggles in the midst or within ourselves. These struggles proceed not through endlessly difficult particulars in which conscience and humanity arise through the individual, not the abstract confrontation with human evil. The writings of Partition manifest the horrendous situation and evoke well the senses of a restless country due to communal riots and displacement. No doubt Man, in his reckless need for the enlargement of the boundaries of his empire have thrown the world into chaotic and irreversible disorder. Human species cling onto survival at a terrible cost of conflict. Alarmingly the conflicts in the world have become paranoid nightmares and man has to cope with the entire situation for survival. R. Manimozhi and S. Karthik Kumar have studied a novel by Khadija Mastur which is entitled as “Trauma of Aliya in the novel The Women’s Courtyard by Khadija Mastur”.

Through the afflicted women characters in this work, Khadija Mastur has depicted the social injustice brought on by the violence during the days of the Indian partition in the society. In addition to taking many lives as a result of the partition, the violence that ensued also wounded and negatively affected the people, killing their emotions. She skillfully captures the agonizing experience of the victim Aliya, who poignantly illustrates the injustice of the partition violence against the victims who were women. After encountering a tragic occurrence that leaves her feeling terrified, frightened, and helpless, Aliya is affected by traumatic stress. Long-term effects include intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks to traumatic previous occurrences. The Women’s Courtyard speaks within the realm of the courtyard against the raw-red backdrop of the independence movement. This is precisely the delicate balancing act that defines Mastur’s quiet genius. Mastur offers a new, truthful perspective on the widely-sung legend of 1947. Mastur’s writings do raise a lot of challenging problems for us and help us realize that, although the political division of India in 1947 was obvious and overt, the division of women’s lives between stifling customs and liberation ambitions is equally important.

In the next paper, Palakurthy Dinakar has evaluated Bhisham Sahni’s Tamas: A Symbol of Trauma and Anguish of Partition. Tamas narrates religious fundamentalism, historical and political events which is the root cause for the violence due to partition. Though the novel portrays the conditions of a village near India Pakistan Border, it was successful in captivating the nation’s interest. The story begins with the communal clashes that were begun due to the killing of a pig and a cow. Nathu was a poor tanner by trade. He was ordered to kill a pig by Murad Ali and the latter was ready to pay rupees five for killing the pig. Murad Ali says that the carcass of the pig is needed by the veterinary doctor. Nathu innocently believed the words of Murad Ali and killed the pig. The carcass of the pig is taken away by Kalu, the Jamadar (the sweeper), just before dawn, as per Ali’s instructions. But much against to the words of Murad Ali the carcass of the dead pig is placed on the steps of the mosque. The important point here is that Muslims consider the pig as unclean and nasty and moreover its carcass on the steps of mosque caused a rumpus in the city. Muslims believed that it was the act of Kafirs, non-Muslim community people which resulted in the communal riots in the city. In the last paper, Tamali Neogi has studied Sadat Hasan Manto’s “Toba Tek Singh”: Diverse Concerns of partitioned Literature as Reflected in Translation. The story “Toba Tek Singh” is set in the background of Partition of 1947. In the aftermath of Partition, millions were forced to uproot and relocate. Manto brings out poignantly the confusion relating what actually was Indian territory and what was the territory of Pakistan. The sanity and rationality of the leaders of both the nations who held talks on population exchange programme 1950, are questioned by Manto since no border can separate one from emotional connections with one’s motherland. The structural irony underscores the fact that perhaps the inhabitants of the asylum are saner than the political leaders. Thus this critically edited book is useful for research scholars. The editor P.V. Laxmiprasad must be congratulated for his laborious and scholarly labour.

01-Jun-2024

More by :  Dr. D. Umasanker

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