Vinod K. Chopra
Lecturer in English.
G.(G)S.S.S.Hamirpur, Distt. Hamirpur (H.P.).
India 177 001
The independence of India on 15 August 1947 was undoubtedly a red letter day in the history of the sub-continent as it was on this day that the shackles of the British slavery were broken giving way to long cherished dream of freedom. The sub-continent simultaneously saw its division into two new states, India and Pakistan and the excitement heralding independence in some area of the sub-continent was however outshone in intensity by the savage massacres (Aiyar, 15) that engrossed the area. Though the long awaited dream of Indians came true in the form of freedom on this day, yet, ironically, the day proved to be a doom’s day for numberless innocent Indians who fell victims to the unprecedented violence that let lose following the partition of the country. The freedom of India brought in its wake the worst ever carnage leading to killings, lootings, arson, abductions and rapes. This mad dance of killings started long before in 1946 with the Muslim League’s call for ‘direct action’. The declaration of independence led to the appalling Hindu-Muslim communal killings spilling blood in almost the whole north and east India. The massacres claimed thousands o lives. While it is almost impossible to arrive at even approximate figures, the most conservative estimates put the death toll at roughly 180,000 (15).
The people were horror-struck since they were not prepared for the unparalleled eventuality that came in the form of one of the greatest catastrophe that overtook its people. The process of migration, evacuation and resettlement was evidence of this unpreparedness (RaiVII). The aftermaths of partition were far-reaching. It resulted in one of the largest ever processes of migration (Aiyar 15). Never before or since have so many people exchanged their homes and countries so quickly. It is estimated that four and a half million Sikhs and Hindus moved from West Punjab into the eastern areas that became part of India. On the other hand an estimate shows that five and a half million Muslims moved in the opposite direction (Aiyar 15). All this transformed the demographic profile of the religion quite dramatically.
The partition of India rendered millions homeless. Their trauma was unprecedented as they had no place to go. These uprooted people walked on foot in great Kafilas, which could stretch for dozens of miles. The largest of them, said to comprise 800,000 people, a caravan almost mind numbing in dimension (Collins 319).
With this historical background of largely peaceful coexistence between the two communities one wonders how such a wide gulf between the two communities got created and who was responsible for making them each other’s enemies? What reasons let to the hostility between the two communities that led to the division of the country into two. Were these the political leaders of the Hindus and the Muslims who failed to see the consequences of the partition, or were the British solely responsible for creating the catastrophic communal divide? Whosoever was responsible for the mayhem that took place in 1947 the shameful fact remains that we, even after 65 years of independence, have not learnt any lesson from our past mistakes and still we go on in spree creating more ‘Pakistans’ in the name of caste, religions and ethnicity
in every part of the world. The irrational behaviour of people have forced the writers of different genres to pen the poignancy of the Partition of India even today only because we fail to understand the irrationality of dividing people across the lines of caste and religion. Such irrationality is exposed candidly by Kamleshwar in his novel.
Kamleshwar’s Partitions is an outstanding novel dealing mainly with the Partition of India and its aftermaths. The main reference of the novel is the turmoil of India’s partition in 1947. However, the novel presets a limitless canvas against which the extraordinary trial in the history of mankind runs its course. Present in a court that transcends space and time are those emperors, rulers and dictators of the past who brought havoc to the mankind. Along with political leaders there are present in the court of adeeb, littérateur, religious zealots and scheming gods of mythology. All stand accused of creating countless fractured nations, leaving a never ending trail of hatred and distrust.
The novel can be analysed and studied at various levels. It is not based on single theme or incident but has various themes running through its backdrop. The most significant and extraordinary feature of the novel is that it has no hero or villain (Kamleshwar vii). The protagonist is a nameless adeeb or littérateur. The novelist does not want to limit his protagonist to specific confines by giving him name and place. He is made to transcend in the course of the narrative. Thus, he is a contemporary Everyman—a man of a many parts and personae. He is introduced as a writer who has lived through India’s partition, experiencing the trauma of hearts and mind being divided as the contours of Pakistan are drawn up by the British. Since he stands for Everyone, the adeeb plays multiple roles. He is a journalist who questions the establishment. He is also playing the role of an unrequited lover whose mistress lives across a volatile border. He is a historian who questions pantheons of divinity as well as civilisational myths and history, and finally he is an activist who rails against massacres, in imperialism and nuclear proliferation. In each of these roles, the adeeb comes across as a person with an extremely sensitive conscience which makes him take a position of critical moderation. He is an articulate voice of the common man’s concerns which have gone largely unheard in history’s relentless march of time.
Unlike historians and other novelists he does not held any villain responsible for the Partition and ensuing mayhem. Even Mohammad Ali Jinnah is not, as he thinks, responsible for the Partition as most of the historians assert. It was the tragedy with Jinnah that he was unable to retract statements he had made in public. Mountbatten himself tells his wife Edwina:
Having openly demanded the partition of India, he cannot take back his words, no matter how much he regrets them now. If he does, he will lose all credibility and no politician can bear to do so. This is the strength as well as the weakness of movements that are born from stirred passions. A statement, once issued cannot be retracted even if, in hindsight, it is discovered to be incorrect or inappropriate. Whenever this happens, brute forces, opposed to change, rear their ugly heads. (42)
Time and again Jinnah wanted to think over the issue of Pakistan and was reluctant whenever Mountbatten discussed the issue. Jinnah again wished to take the party in confidence but it seemed the British government was bent on dividing India as Mountbatten says, “If your newly awakened conscience stops you from taking a stand and giving your assent when I present the plan for India’s partition, just move your head imperceptibly. Leave it to me to interpret the message your gesture conveys” (45). Jinnah was helpless and too aware that in the game of political chess, “he was a mere pawn in the hands of the British. He was being paid back in his same coin—Pakistan!”(45). Jinnah seemed “non-committal” when Mountbatten presented the
proposal for the Partition of India before the concerned parties. The adeeb tells Mountbatten in his court that even in 1933 when the idea of Pakistan was proposed by Rehmat Ali for the first time in London hotel, “Jinnah Sahib had said that it was an impossible and ill-considered dream…” (279). He also tells him that around the year 1934, Jinnah was so repelled and disheartened by politics that he sailed for London, abandoning his lucrative practice at the Bombay high court. He renounced politics. It was then the British government filled his mind with poison ad projected him as the leader of Muslims in India. It was the nefarious plans of the imperial government otherwise “God fearing, pious Muslims in India would never have accepted this pork-eating atheist as then leader” (282). Over and over again, Mountbatten has held Jinnah responsible for insisting on Partition. By putting the onus of the decision on Jinnah, “Mountbatten has acquitted himself” (285). Even the news of Jinnah’s illness was concealed. Had the news of Jinnah’s illness got around, the congress leaders of the freedom movement would have curbed their “haste for independence” and the tragedy of India’s partition could have been averted” (285). It is reality, then, as the adeeb is told by one in the court, “Jinnah did not make history… he was created by the powers of imperialism” (96).
Common man was equally against the Partition. Tannu, Major Hasan returns from the World WarII after the Armistice has been declared. He comes to his village Gangauli. He feels the pangs when he is told about the plan of India’s partition. He loves his village and people so much so that the idea of Pakistan does not appeal to him even a little. He remembers the days in the battlefield and tells others, “I have witnessed the macabre dance of death in the battlefield. When death came close, I remembered Allah and was reminded not of Mecca or Karbala, but of Gangauli…. If Allah is everywhere, what is the difference between Gangauli and Mecca, the indigo warehouse and Kaaba, the waters of Zamzam and that of our pond?” (49). He argues with a bigot Muslim and says, “This is my home and the Kaaba is Allah’s. If—God glory to be him— loves his abode, won’t He understand that we too cherish our homes?” (49). He tries to make clear his argument that “Anything built on the foundations of hatred and fear can never flourish” (49). Tannu embodies all those rational Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus who were against the Partition. Salma, Zainab, Buta Singh Vidya and Surjit Kaur are against any idea of Partition. Surjeet keeps visiting the adeeb asking whether her Multan is safe or not. Through these characters the novelist hints at the madness of creating ‘partitions’ and how ‘partitions’ bring pangs of separation in the life of people. It is, nonetheless, a fact that politics of religion has created so many ‘Pakistans’ and ‘partitions’ of heart and mind. Admittedly, it is religious obscurantism, narrow-mindedness and bigotry in the name of going back to fundamentals that tends to divide people whom life and history have brought together(Mirdha 102). Kamleshwar underlines how the political use of religion caused rift and hatred among the Hindus and the Muslims in India. The sentiments of innocent people were exploited for the political cause. Kulsum, a Mulsim, reports, “Arrey, that man who has arrived from Aligarh the one who wears a black sherwani… referred to the number of times in the Koransharif that Allah exhorted the mians to vote for the Muslim league” (46) On the other hand, the Hindu bigots exploit their brethren in the similar way. One Hindu pandit with the tilak marking his forehead tells how the god Krishna has declared, “O, Arjun, I am the Supreme Power. There is none but I. Today, beloved Bharat of the Gita sends forth a clarion call to each Hindu, exhorting him to rise and banish these vile Muslims from the sacred banks of the Ganga and Jamuna” (46). This is how the illiterate people are deceived in the name of religion and God and made to hate each other. There is no denying the fact that the roots of culture lie in religion, but with the passage of time, culture
liberates itself from the shackles of faith and takes on a humanitarian aspect. It is Salma who tells the adeeb, “Yet, you and your kind constantly try to drag culture back towards religion” (94).
Badruddin Umar is right that communalism as a specific form of political use of religion appears in India with the rise of national movement in the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century (Mirdha 101). In this context Salma reminds adeeb in his court how Lokmanya Tilak, when “he sought to identify the quest for independence with the Ganpathi Ulsav celebrations and turned the former into a purely Hindu movement” (Kamleshwar 94).Thus he divides the hearts. ‘Pakistans’—a symbol of hatred—are created when there is lust for power and use of religion for political ends. Even today the same is happening. An Afghan mujahid, weeping, appear in the adeeb’s court and complains, “We were not blood thirsty mercenaries to begin with. Like all children, we were born innocent, but self interest and the lust for power transformed us into beasts…. How I wish we had been trained to work in the fields and factories” (179). Similarly, Nikhil Chakravarthy tells adeeb why Hindu Pandits are demanding a Hindu homeland or the version of Pakistan, “Pakistan carries on giving birth to more Pakistans…. It is an infectious disease. As long as religion, race, caste and imperialist ambitions continue to hold mankind in thrall, as long as lust for power and supremacy thrives, this planet will continue to witness the birth and evolution of many such monstrous Pakistans” (181-82).
It is true that religion has been used for political purposes or for maintaining and preserving the interests of the ruling classes in all hitherto known societies—divided into exploiting and exploited classes. No individual but the forces of communalism and their lust for power and pelf and greed can be held responsible for the division of hearts.
The long awaited freedom of India, at last, came in 1947 giving way to joys and happiness as the centuries’ old slavery vanished and people breathed in free atmosphere of pervading independence. However, it was a time of strange paradoxes. The following opening lines in. The Tales of Two cities suit to the occasion:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct the other way.… (Ansari ix)
The above lines poignantly sum up the state of affairs that prevailed in the wake of India’s independence. Sadly, the independence brought with it massacres, rapes, abduction, hatred and suspicion because secularism received a fatal blow from communalism by way of Partition of the country on religious basis. In the name of religion there was large scale bloodshed which no religion on the earth preaches (Bipan Chandra 35). Partitions is the voice of a man who happened to live through, and keenly felt those troubled times. The unprecedented event of the Partition stands for loss and destruction of life and property, social values and mutual love, peace and harmony. It symbolises death of everything we hold dear. Moreover, one ghastly event of the Partition bred many ‘partitions’ in the wake of changing time. The Partition of India emerges as a metaphor for divisions and hatred. Since 1947, many ‘Pakistans’ have been carved out and many are yet to be carved out. Politicians, religious diehard and even the common men failed to learn lessons from the past mayhem and are giving in before the forces that are anti-social. Even today efforts are on to create Pakistans of hatred in every nation in the world. That is what happened in Bosnia… the fragmented Soviet Union… and it is happening in Afghanistan and Israel. The worst tragedy is that everyone today is interested in creating new ‘Pakistans’ against the interests of their people. The political leadership is still not sensitised.
Following the footsteps of the British masters who perfected the art of playing one against the other, our politicians are playing the same game to capture power (Umar 61 ).
The adeeb as an Everyman embodies the people’s court which sets out to judge human as well divine acts of omission and commission down the trajectory of history (Dickens 3). He summons father Time to assist him in his judgement, sweeping over the vast tracts of time and space. Time emerges as the protagonist, presenting before the reader a tableau of men and matters that await the adeeb’s judgement. Partitions is not only about India alone. It has wider perspective—a macro study of people all over the globe who have undergone injustice, oppression and dislocation of various kinds. It is about those who have suffered the partition of one or the other kind. It is the voice of the adeeb as an everyman who has witnessed the world history through a crucial epoch. He witnesses the best as well as the worst of times. He expresses his anger on the many ‘Pakistans’ created all over the world let alone India. These ‘Pakistans’ have brought a shock and pain in the life of the common man. These ‘Pakistans’ stand as obstacles in the way of harmonious relationships between communities.
The adeeb gives a very painful account how the process of creating more ‘Pakistans’ is escalated through terrorism and religious fanaticism. He explains how ULFA, LTTE and those in Punjab brought massacres one after another in the wake of terrorism (Kamleshwar 50-51). Then there are those champions of religious-bigotry who created ‘Pakistans’ through riots in Karachi, Ayodhya and Baroda in Gujarat as they fomented religious sentiments of their respective communities. They were from every community. Simranjit Singh Man, Abdullah Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid—who so often give diktats, the leaders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal. All are bent upon creating their Pakistan (51). All the accused are summoned in the court of the adeeb along with the victimised ones who are crying in the court pleading for justice. The adeeb’s peon is right when he says, “It took birth in the harvest of 1947. It urges both Hindus and Muslims to be zealots” (57). Undoubtedly, the year of 1947 gave birth to numerous ‘Pakistans’ in the wake of the Partition and heinous pogrom that followed it. Even today innocent people suffer death throes due to the prevailing communalism. The adeeb witnesses how “the corpses screamed and shouted and moaned. It was unclear as to who was killing whom, because blood thirsty citizens of the world’s many ‘Pakistans’ were shooting their own people” (80).
The adeeb witnesses many ‘Pakistans’ in a process to be carved out all over the world. In the court of the adeeb Comrade Imam Nazish, too, laments the creations of many ‘Pakistans’. He admits that it is wrong to “determine national creations on the basis of religion.” Today, he explains:
Efforts are on to create Pakistans of hatred in every nation in the world. That’s what happened in Bosnia, Cyprus, the fragmented Soviet Union and the new Russian Federation. And it is happening in Afghanistan today. Using hatred as a prop, everyone is involved in creating new Pakistans against the interest of their own people. (83)
Truly, Time has changed and hatred determines man’s identity and caste today. It is hatred that enriches the soil of ill will and strengthens the resolve of revenge.
Casteism, too, gives birth to more ‘Pakistans’ among fellow human beings. It is Salma who claims that casteism has destroyed religion by segregating it within mutually exclusive compartments. She claims it on the basis of Brahminical texts and tells the adeeb, “Your caste system has become your true religion. Every child is born from mother’s womb. Yet your Brahmins and their scriptures insult all wombs. By asserting that individuals are born from
different parts of Brahma’s body, they have established a faith built on the difference between one human being and another. In today’s terminology, one could well say that your Brahmins have created a Pakistan for themselves” (93). Similar ‘Pakistans’ are created in the Muslim community as well.
An old man of history says, “Even in Hindustan, Islam becomes the victim of a kind of outdated Islamic Brahminvad, controlled by the vested interest of priests …. In Hindustan, the priests moulded Islam into the Hindu system of caste.” It was perhaps this impact that Aurangzeb who followed and perpetuated this system in the name of Islam became a Muslim Brahmin.” Who “gave precedence to religion over humanitarian concerns” (136).
Besides, the novelist mentions many ‘Pakistans’ which are created or are on the proposal to be created. First a Pakistan was created in 1947. A few decades later another Pakistan emerged as Bangla Desh. Now Sindhis, Muhajirs, Baluch are demanding their own Pakistans. Similar demands came from Indonesia, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Lebanon, Sri Lanka and India. Those who are bent upon spilling blood all over the world carry arms from America, China and Russia, rush towards Bosnia, Somalia, Jordan, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. They are busy in crating new ‘Pakistans.’ Some outfit like Algeria’s Islamic front, Jordan’s, Mohemmedi Army, Tunisia’s Islamic Party, and Kashmir’s Hizbul Mujahideen, JKLF and other such organisations become one to bring more ‘partitions’ in the life of men by “wreaking havoc along the way” (179). Even today the peace in Lebanon is looking fragile (Kulkarni 65) due to the attack on it by Israel The novelist also decries the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan at Pokhran and Chagai respectively as they pave a way for more ‘Pakistans’ among us. He also condemns the attack on Hiroshima as it was the worst crime against mankind to kill innocent people for no fault of their own. In this way, the ghastly infection of so called ‘Pakistans’ seems to be an archetype of nefarious plans of those who take sadistic pleasure in seeing the suffering humanity.
‘Pakistans’ are also wrought in human relationships in the form of distances and rifts among people. Such a ‘Pakistan’ was created between two brothers after the Partition of India. It was in 1965 Indo-Pak war when two brothers were facing each other. Major Yaqub Khan, the elder one, fought for Pakistan and Caption Yunus Khan for India. The war had lent another dimension to the painful tragedy of partition when two siblings ranged against each other—a ‘Pakistan’ was created between brothers and both were paying the price of the Partition of the land. Sadly, Yaqub Khan could not save himself and was killed by no other but his brother (Kamleshwar 327).
Women, too, become victims of partitions around them. The Partition in 1947 brought suffering and separation in the life of women in its wake. Salma is separated from her lover as she has to flee to Pakistan with the creation of geographical Pakistan. A Pakistan is created between the relationships of two lovers. She suffers the trauma of separation for ever. On the other hand, Zainab is about to be ravished by ravishers when she is saved by a Sikh called Buta Singh. He not only saves her from the ravisher but also gives her a shelter and marries her. They have a daughter called Tanvir. But the day comes when Zainab is restored to her parents in Pakistan. Anyhow, Buta Singh manages to reach Pakistan, pleads for his wife, converts himself to Islam but they would not give in. Zainab is forced to keep quiet all the time. Her voice and choice both are strangled. Woman has no choice in matter of even her own life. Buta commits suicide by throwing himself before the train along with his daughter. Thus the lovers are separated for ever. Zainab suffers the trauma of unfulfilled love as ‘Pakistan’ is created between her and her lover with whom she enjoyed the blissful conjugal life. Similar is the plight of Vidya who undergoes the similar tragedy of separation from her land, relatives and the people she
loves. Two boys of her own community abduct her and use her “to satisfy their Hindu lust” (333). The two boys rape her repeatedly. Thus a ‘Pakistan’ of hatred is created in her mind for her hometown as it has begun to terrify her. She loses her parents in the wake of riots. It is the fate of woman to play in the hand of man. Even during medieval period, “each Hindu ruler would auction his daughter like fragrant bouquet in the kingdom’s bazaar. In exchange, he sought ease and pleasure through bargains …. For the sale of Hindu girls, a Hindu merchant was always present and engaged in protracted bargaining” (229). It is the tragedy of woman that her body is always traded with. Surjit Kaur also suffers as she is the victim of the Partition. The worst violence is meted out over her body. During the Partition she has fled from Multan with her son who is given a dose of opium lest he should not cry along the way. She is raped and left almost mad with the onslaught on her body. Her son never opened the eyes again. She carries the body of her comatose son for the last fifty years, “when ever war breaks out between India and Pakistan, she always comes to the adeeb asking him about her Multan, hoping that it has not been bombed (318), signifying she loves her Multan to such an extent that the demented woman is not ready to understand that Multan is now in Pakistan and she has nothing to do with it.
The Bengali women fall prey to the lust of soldiers when Bangla Desh has been created. Woman of the Bengali bastis in Karachi are molested and raped. One of the soldiers breaks into the house where a Bengali woman has been staying with her husband. “He tied her hands behind her back…. the officer now tore her clothes, so that not a shred of a cloth remained on her body…he thrust himself deep into her naked flesh a couple of times, then with a jerk, pushed her away” (344). After that the woman is raped by many soldiers. They leave behind a battered, naked woman who repeatedly asks herself, “Who, after all, was the real enemy?” (345). These were blood-soaked times that inflicted gaping wounds on woman’s psyche. Even today countless women are forced to pay heavy prices for the creation of ‘Pakistan’ by irrational miscreants across the world.
The adeeb tells that even in Yugoslavia Christians have brutally tyrannised Muslims and driven them away. “Muslims women are abducted and subjected to such humiliation and torture that even the Pakistan army’s maltreatment of Bangladeshi woman during Bangladesh’s war of independence pales into insignificance …. The bestiality endured by Muslim women in Sarajevo has no precedent” (174) Women suffered because Serbs and Croats have compelled their Muslim compatriots to create their own ‘Pakistans’. And women suffered for male’s insanity and irrationality. Kim Huk Sun of Korean was such a sufferer of male violence that her psyche was torn into pieces as she, at the age of 17, was abducted by Japani soldiers from Beijing. She tells the adeeb in his court, “They raped me fifty times a day without respite” (79). She also laments, “Forty thousand women were forcibly conscripted here and every single day, each one of us was forced to sexually satisfy more than a dozen Japanese soldiers” (79). Thus this is a universal phenomenon with woman. Civilizations—developed or otherwise—make no difference. The psychology or mindset of the male members of society is same everywhere for they play with the body of woman. Women have to pay heavy prices for the madness of male members of their communities who are bent upon formulating new ‘Pakistans’ everyday. The psyche of woman is wounded so much so that their mental ailment and trauma is left uncured for centuries to come. Their scars are left fresh and bleeding for ever. More ‘Pakistans’ are erected over their bodies even today whenever violence is let lose in any part of the world.
At on level Kamleshwar’s Partitions is a study of past history where the novelist very candidly lambastes those historians who create many ‘Pakistan’ or ‘partitions’ of hatred through subjective and partial accounts of history. It is for this characteristic that the novel enjoys cult
status that dares to ask crucial questions about the making and writing of history. In this carnival of historical personages who march through the pages of the novel, the adeeb’s court questions, cross examines and passes strictures against those historians who brought havoc to the future generations by writing speculative histories and paved a heinous way for more inevitable ‘partitions’ in its course among those who, however, had been living together enjoying the mutual love and goodwill for the centuries. Such historians that have a prejudice against a particular community give to distorted version of history and have brought suffering and disaster in its wake.
The adeeb, in his court, fumes his anger against those historians who have evolved their own histories relating to Babri Mosque. Until 1857 there was no question of Ram temple at Ayodhya but the unity the Hindu and the Muslim displayed in the mutiny against the British rankled in the eyes of the British government and they falsified the history to divide Indians on religious lines. Two pages of Babarnama which prove that Babar had “gone to Avadh and not to Ayodhya, mysteriously disappeared. Having played this dirty trick, the British and, particularly,
H.R. Neville, the Faizabad gazetteer, went a step further. The latter placed on record the falsehood that Babar had stayed in Ayodhya for a week and ordered the demolition of the Ram Mandir”(61). This one incident of tempering with ‘history’ has cost thousand of lives of innocent Hindus and the Muslim so far. Besides, it has led to permanent feud, distrust and hatred among them and has created bitter and odious ‘partitions’ among them. They have turned this issue into a cancer that keeps on proliferating day by day without any solution in sight devastating the very united fabric of the nation. At that time no battle was fought for religion. Whether it was a battle at Kurukshetra or between Ram and Ravana or those fought during the medieval period the battles were “fought over a kingdom. As Muslims were fighting with others at the time, Hindu- Muslim question was simply not relevant (64). However, the historians give religious tinge to every battle and those irrational arguments change the parameters of social, religious and historical realities and lead to disunity, ostracism and ill will in the future. And as the adeeb observes, “The vanquished deliberatively erase truth and memory. The record in word and deed a history warped to suit their own perspective” (141).
The historian Shibli Nomani has been rebuked by the adeeb for his biased version of history as he defended the cruel ruler, Aurangzeb. The adeeb is right in asserting, “History written in blood and recorded under coercion can never be other than suspect. Such accounts are written by professional historians who are paid to do so”(195). The adeeb is truthful. Only those accounts that record honestly and dispassionately the thoughts, feeling, sentiments, aspirations and remorse of the very people who actively participated in historical events may be received as truly authentic and real. The attack on Hindu states are wrongly recorded as attacks on ‘kafirs’ by the biased historians that brings more ‘partitions’ even today and people look at other in terms of hatred and enmity. The adeeb lashes out at Hazrat Shibli Nomani for his bigoted version and vision of history. He says:
For faith and religion rarely keep up with the realities of life aninvariably lag centuries behind. It is the discrepancy between religion and reality that lays the foundation for the many “Pakistans” that have no grounds at all for taking root (196).
The biased and those with bigoted version are the historians responsible to pave the way for the rise of these grotesque “Pakistans”. That is why in Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Algeria, Somalia, Lebanon and Iraq Muslims are pitted against Muslims. The historians with bigoted vision and the arguments continue to create one Pakistan within another. Thus, the adeeb, through arguments
with those summoned in his court, implies that such biased and opinionated history must be brushed aside and eschewed if we want to have love, peace and harmony across the world.
It is through the technique of using symbols and metaphors that the different types of ‘partitions’ are presented before us intensifying the poignancy of the distressed times. The Partition separates brutally the two lovers, Salma and the adeeb. Side by side the novel is a truthful and poignant study of these two lovers belonging to two different communities. They stand for India and Pakistan forced to stand apart. Even after the bloody Partition the lovers keep meeting discussing the trauma of separation. They represent million of people who wish to meet and share the trauma even after 65 years of the Partition. They are involved in extra marital love defying all the confines symbolising anger against the margins created by the politicians. Their love transcends all man made boundaries. Similar is the agony of Buta and Zainab who are separated even after they have got married. Buta not only saves the honour of Zainab but marries her to give legitimacy to their relationship. They are separated and Buta is forced to commit suicide. His death symbolises death of virtue and rationality. Zainab’s choice does not matter regarding her wish to live with Buta Singh. Her voice is hushed up forcibly. She stands for all those who were not asked whether they want the Partition or not. Besides, she symbolises all those women who bore the burnt of abduction, rape and subsequent desertion. Sometimes, they were restored to their families and forced to abandon the men they were living with. However, their choice in this matter was not taken care of. Surjit Kaur’s excessive love for Multan signifies the love of every uprooted one for his home. She carries the dead body of her son for the last fifty years implies that she carries the burden of Partitioned country for fifty years. The dead son symbolises the death of relationships and values. The headless people who keep visiting the adeeb’s court stand for irrational and headless politicians and bigots who hurried to create partition. The blind Kabir is archetype of unity and hope. He keeps visiting Pakistan and India implies a bridge between the two fragmented nations. He begs outside the temples, churches and Mosques in both the countries symbolising unity and brotherhood as all give him alms without caring for his religion. In the last the adeeb, Everyman is in ICCU hints that the so many ‘Pakistans’ have brought havoc in the life of everyman leaving them high and dry and virtually on the death bed. Kabir is a blind beggar in the novel. Ironically, the real blind are those who cannot see the love and humanity in the mankind, who go on dividing people in the mad pursuit of religious bigotry and voracity. The real blind are those deranged people blinded by religion who go on killing their brethren madly without eyes to see their blood. Ultimately, it is this blind Kabir whom the adeeb does see going towards Pokhran and Chagai to plant banyan trees because like “Shiva the roots of the banyan can absorb all poison” (367). His dignified aim is to see the humanity happy. He is the true embodiment of religion, and the words of Dalai Lama that he expresses in Freedom in Exile fit in the character of Kabir. Dalai Lama believes that all religion aims at making people better human beings and … at keeping humanity to find happiness. (Kaur
- Ironically, it is the blind beggar who is made to show the way to a subcontinent’s troubled populace and the novel significantly ends in an optimistic note.
Aiyar, Swarna. “August Anarchy’, The Partition Massacres in Punjab, 1947” in Freedom
Trauma, Continuities Northern India and Independence, Ed. D.A. Low and Howard Brasted. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1998.
Ansari, Ameena Kazi. “Translator’s Note” in Kamleshwar, Kitne Pakistan (Hindi), trans. as
Chandra, Bipan. “Communalism and Communal Violence in Modern India” in Communalism in Contemporary India. Calcutta: Burdwan University, 1994.
Collins, Larry and Dominique Lapierre. Freedom at Midnight New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1977.
Dickens, Charles. The Tale of Two Cities. 1993; rpt., Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Classics, 1994.
Gurpreet. “Two Facets of Partition: The Feminine and the Gender” in Perspectives on the Partition Fiction of the Indian Sub-continent, ed.Tejinder Kaur, Kulbhusan Kushal and N.K.Neb Jalandhar: NirmanPublications,2007.
Kamleshwar, Kitne Pakistan (Hindi), trans. as Partitions by Ameena Kazi Ansari New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2006. All subsequent references to the novel are to this edition and have been incorporated in the text.
Kulkarni, S.K. “Relevance of Secularism” in Challenges Mumbai: Jaico Publishing House, 2001.
Mirdha, “Partition Fiction: Between Madness And Humanism” in Perspectives on the Partition Fiction of the Indian Sub-continent ed. Tejinder Kaur, Kulbhusan Kushal
Rai, Satya M. Partition of the Punjab.New Delhi: Asia Publishing House, 1965.Umar, Badrudin.“Communalism: a Specific Form of Political Use of Religion” in Communalism in Contemporary India. Calcutta: Burdwan University, 1994.