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Bent, Not Broken: Stories of prominent Partition survivors come together in a new book

By November 27, 2018No Comments

Source : The Indian Express

“Millions were impacted by the Partition of India, and each one of them has a story. Each one of them is a story,” says author Malika Ahluwalia.

At the time of Partition, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was merely 14 and had just taken his matriculation exam, hoping that somehow results will be released in the middle of all the din. “But I was not in luck. Partition came in the way and Punjab University itself was divided into two parts. The new East Punjab University arranged for matric exams in February 1948,” Singh says in the opening chapter of the book Divided By Partition, United By Resilience (Rupa Publications; Rs 295). The chapter also details how he left his ancestral home in Gah and came to settle in Amritsar, and how even though he made several trips to Pakistan, he skipped Gah because of “the memory of his grandfather and others who were killed for no reason”.

Talking about the sheer violence unleashed in those times, Khanna recalls, “One evening, when men returned home from work, they discovered that women had already been sent ahead (to India) on trains. Upon reaching India, the women waited and waited for their husbands to join them, but no one came. Their men, who were left behind in Pakistan, had been murdered.”
During the book launch in Delhi recently, a panel comprising Ahluwalia, Cour, Khanna, Gujral and Anjolie Ela Menon discussed “reconciliation in the aftermath of the Partition through art and literature”. They observed how there is little in terms of paintings, short stories and poetry on the massacre that killed thousands on both sides of the border. Menon says, “I was too young at the time to have formulated a response. Besides Satish Gujral’s works and Khushwant Singh’s book (Train to Pakistan), there are very few stories. Perhaps, the pain of those time was too much to remember.” Khanna says, “Art is not done in the heat of the moment. I came to Shimla after taking seven days off from the printing press I was working with, back home in Pakistan. And for six years, I couldn’t return. What Partition did to us was not for just that instant, it was for a lifetime.”

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