Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Train to Pakistan

"The fact is, both sides killed. Both shot and stabbed and speared and clubbed. Both tortured. Both raped. By the summer of 1947 ... ten million people - Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs - were in flight. Almost a million of them were dead"
- Khushwant Singh

Khushwant Singh's Train to Pakistan is a fictious story based on the events during the India-Pakistan Partition. The story is set in the backdrop of a serene village Mano Majra which turns into a restless chaotic border village as a result of the new geographical separation.

The book gives you a feel of what the partition has done to a village like Mano Majra, where Sikhs and Muslims live together like a family. The slowly changing mindsets of the Sikhs and Muslims, tells us how cruel the partition has been to these innocent villagers, for whom Independence is just a shift of slavery from the British Government to the Indians or Pakistani Government and partitioning the country is nothing more than splitting their own family.

The author gives different perspectives on the incidents happening through the eyes of Juggat Singh, Hukkum Chand,Iqbal, Meet Singh, Imam Baksh and the other villagers. As a common man we could easily put ourselves in any of these characters.

Punjab Riots
Victims of the riots in Delhi being removed from the streets. Fighting broke out over Partition. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images) Content © 2009 Getty Images All rights reserved.

The photographs of the carnage taken by Margaret Bourke -White gives more life to this fiction. These photographs doesn't give a feel that our independence is something to feel proud about. Its shame on us if we still boast that our indepedence was through ahimsa and without blood shed. If someone should take responsibility for all these murders and lootings, then the onus is on the the Babus, Jinnahs and the Gandhis.

The narration of the incidents without taking sides of the Sikhs or the Muslims, makes Train to Pakistan a worthy read.

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