Divided by Partition United by Resilience

by Mallika Ahluwalia

Read time: about 3 minutes

Partition has been a painful period in the history of India. As a nation, we lost more than we gained that could be routed back to the year when it all happened. My thirst for literature on the partition of India is never quenching as I come across books after books narrating the time. This book is different from all the others I have read before for a simple reason that this one celebrates the struggles of people who were directly affected. I proudly add it to my collection.

Cover: Divided by Partition United by Resilience

Cover

The cover page is rather dull. The sepia Color cover page with a photograph of migration is appropriate, however, it does nothing to stand out on the shelf. The lettering on the page does not help either. One might look over the cover page until she/he takes a note of the photograph.

Characters

The book contains several well-known figures from Indian politics, films, sports and business. One will get to learn about Dr Manmohan Singh, Madan Lal Khurana, Gulzar, Kuldip Nayar, Ajeet Cour, Milkha Singh and many others. It’s a great collection of personalities that have done really well in their fields.

Content

The book carried my attention during the time I was reading massive texts on colonial history and that of Indian independence. The books captured my attention as it was unlike anything I had read before. Indian independence and partition of the country into two are always spoken in one breath.

It was a tragic time, unfortunately the largest mass migration in the history. However, this book moves beyond the pain of migration, if at all it is possible.

The book brings together several personalities whose lives stood altered after their migration from now Pakistan to India. Leaving everything they arrived in a new land and started from scratch to build a life for themselves. It turned out well, yes. The stories they can tell now will inspire generations.

There is our previous prime minister talking about the what seemed like unreal events and this successive rise to Indian politics. Gulzar Saab still recollects his days in his childhood home. Milkha Singh recollects travelling in trains full of death and his zeal to rise up in life.

Several similarities can be traced in the book such as the unreal-ness of the entire episode and slowly sinking feeling of permanence. Those who moved thought they could never be separated from their land of birth and when ‘this thing’ dies down they could go back to their lives as it was. There is also a common witnessing of rage and violence in the name of religion.

But what unites each of these characters is the intent to stay afloat and stay tall.

There is no story I loved less than the other. They are all quite inspirational.

Language

The language is quite simple. There is no elitism in the words. This is meant to reach masses.

Good Points

The content remains the best part of the book. The simpler language helps in the reach.

Bad Points

I am afraid this beautiful book may skip the eyes of readers due to its ordinary cover. This could be worked on, maybe?

Overall

This book definitely stands high of my pile of recommendation on Indian history. A must read.

Who do I recommend this to?

To all the history buffs. Also, to those who like short inspirational reads.

Quotable Quotes

They would pour liquor of the wound as a disinfectant, and make people drink it as an anaesthetic. It was a mayhem. My father later wrote an account of what he saw- he said the river Jhelum ran red with blood. - Anjolie Ela Menon

And even in their moments of doubt, there seemed one surety: ‘Lahore was the safest place because Lahore would stay in India- everyone beloved this,’she remembers. - Ajeet Cour

In the beginning, there wasn’t a clear sense of what partition meant for such divided families. People though it would be like a Union, and that people would go back and forth. - Hamida Habibullah

Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com