Dr. Meenakshi Malhotra talks about Witnessing Partition by Tarun K.Saint, which according to her, is a valuable addition to the corpus of Partition literature

In his book ‘’Witnessing Partition: Memory, History, Fiction’’(2020), Tarun K. Saint attempts the ambitious literary enterprise of a sweeping account of the major literary writing generated by the partition of 1947, when two separate countries, India and Pakistan were created. A moment which should have been a joyous celebration of freedom from colonial rule, turned into a tragic moment of violent and acrimonious division.

Partitioned LivesStudies on the Partition of India have generally focussed on the western front and taken 1947 as an end point in the narrative of that story. The splitting of Punjab was accompanied by large-scale migration, savage violence and frenetic rioting, which led to the death of at least a million people. Perhaps that is why the focus of a lot of Partition studies has remained on the western front, whereas the eastern front (the division of Bengal) has not attracted similar attention.

This is an ambitious and innovative production but, perhaps ironically for a collection clearly based around a single theme, lacking in clarity and purpose, says Elen Turner.

this-side-that-sideThis Side, That Side: Restorying Partition (an Anthology of Graphic Narratives). Curated by Vishwajyoti Ghosh. New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2013. 327 pp. ISBN 93-82579-01-X.

This book represents an ambitious project: to tell stories of the Partition of India through graphic narratives. It contains twenty-eight short pieces on different aspects of the Partition in 1947, from various locations. Present-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are all represented, and while most of the texts were originally written in English, a number have been translated from Urdu, Hindi and Bangla. The majority of entries are collaborations between a writer and an illustrator/artist, often in different locations, particularly across national borders.

A gamut of experiences of Partition are represented: life in refugee camps, the continuing difficulty of India-Pakistan cross-border travel, homelessness in both the physical and the psychological senses, the fundamental similarities between Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, despite political rhetoric.