Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book Review: Partitions by Amit Majmudar

Title: Partitions
Author: Amit Majmudar
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Pages: 216
Price: Rs 350
Genre: Fiction / Historical fiction / India
Rating: 9/10
Format: Paperback

From the Back Cover:

July 1947. India is torn in two. Violence erupts on both sides of the new border and waves of refugees flee the carnage and chaos.

Fighting to board the last train to Delhi, six-year-old Hindu twins Shankar and Keshav are torn from their mother and must begin a terrifying trek to find her again. A young Sikh girl, Simran Kaur, having escaped the honourable death planned for her by her father, dreams of a spiritual sanctuary at the temple of Amritsar. And Ibrahim Masud, a timid doctor driven from his home, treats all those he finds along the way as he struggles towards the new state of Pakistan.

This is the story of their journeys across a ravaged land, of the acts of compassion and cruelty that shape their new lives and their new nations.

My thoughts:

The first time I came across ‘Partitions’ by Amit Majmudar was while I was reading about ‘the Ice-Candy Man’ by Bapsi Sidhwa; and after having read both the books, now I know why the parallels had been drawn. Both the books are set against the partition of India in 1947. Both the books follow the changing circumstances of a set of characters before and after the partitions. What also connect these books are their unusual yet relatively neutral narrators. The former has been narrated by a spirit; while ‘the Ice-Candy Man’ has been narrated by a young Parsi girl.

‘Partitions’ is a fictional account of the plight of common people who were affected during that period in history which is often remembered for the extent of violence and uprooting of millions of people. The story has been narrated by the spirit of the twin children’s father, Dr. Roshan Jaitly. Although he died a few years ago, Dr Jaitly’s spirit still watches over his children because as a dead person he has the ability to foresee their future. In the beginning, the three stories run parallely taking the readers through the turn of events which eventually lead the characters to each other. These characters from different religious groups unwittingly come to each other’s succor, flouting prevalent suspicions for people from other religion. And therefore, irrespective of the painful circumstances, this story is surprisingly more uplifting than depressing.

The author has a beautiful, poetic style of writing. His prose is fresh and captivating. In a very well-handled back and forth between past-present-future and parallel stories of the four characters, he narrates a story that shows how humanity and empathy triumph over mindless hatred. Without having any personal connection with the partitions, it is commendable how he has been able to achieve a narrative that is so soulful.

This book will appeal to most readers of fiction, and more so to those who are interested in reading about what people went through during partitions.  

Here are a few lines quoted from the book:

“Some killing must be done. It is a form of communication, the only kind that can cross the partitions between this country and its neighbor, between this world and the next. Their enemies must hear the deaths, and know rest.”

“She pauses there, filling with admiration and adoration. The imitation-love a kind-hearted stranger is capable of feeling for a beautiful child. Not love.”

“How little we knew each other, though for centuries our homes had shared walls. How little we will learn, now that all we share is a border.”

 “I can almost always get a clear read on people. Each mind swims in its skull before me like a fish in a glass bowl. But with Aisha right now…… I can’t see clearly how she feels about Simran. The water is murky, the glass frosted.”

“It’s such a miraculous device, a voice. I never knew how miraculous when I had one.”

Image source: GoodReads

6 comments:

  1. U r back :) ... and the book sounds interesting.. something may be I can relate too..

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    1. Yes, I hope I am back :-) I would be reviewing kids' books too. This book is good but I sure haven't seen it on any other blog.
      Thanks for dropping by :-)

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  2. Great to read a review from you after long! This book seems very interesting...may pick it up sometime. Looking forward to the kids books reviews - my son loves books too, so am always looking for some new reads for him :)

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    1. And good to see you here too :-) I decided that I should do children's book reviews because that's what I read these days far more than my own books.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment. It is good to be back and more so when people notice :-)

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