Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Common Man and Partition

Fikr Taunsvi writes of Lahore in the traumatic months leading to Partition. A chilling account of what the common man went through, while life-changing decisions were made in Delhi and London:

'The washerman who lived on the ground floor...had become the father of a tiny baby at three in the morning and..was worried that the bazaars were shut. The sweet-seller who sold milk had locked his shop from inside and was hiding there. He had received no supply today because all milk-vendors are Muslim and this being a Hindu locality, they couldn't step into it. Hospitals were not functioning, neither were doctors, nurses and medicines, and both the mother and the infant were crying. The children were asking, 'Will the curfew never be lifted? Shall we never get milk?'...I wish you had the strength to ask great brains like Jawaharlal Nehru, Jinnah and other statement and maulvis to wear the guise of this unlettered washerman for a moment. Then you may go request the British to give you freedom. Then demand Pakistan and Hindustan'

These are the real voices of Partition, voices that tell the story of their times, of an event that changed their lives and that of their country, voices that lived through the traumatic possibility of becoming aliens in their own home. It's time we stopped reading only the political and diplomatic version of Partition. The real story of the birth of India and Pakistan lies with the people.

{Taunsvi's quotes are excerpted  from Yasmin Khan's brilliant book The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan}


Mel u said...

I have just complete R. K. Narayan's wonderful collection of short stories set in Malgudi, The Astrologer's Day and Other Stories-published in 1947-it helps to bring to life small town Indian in the years right right before the partition-it is also very much a fun read, beautifully written

Mel u said...

yesterday I read "Dog of Tithwell" by Santo Hassan Manto-it is set in 1947 among Indian troops on the Pakistan border-it is a heart breaking work on the absurdity of war and one of the classic short stories on the Partition of India-there is a link to the story and a poor translation of it on my blog


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