Abida Mian's Blog

An outlier that's living, learning and being myself…

Archive for May, 2014

Partitions by Amit Majmudar

Partitions by Amit Majmudar

Ever since I was a young child, I’ve loved reading. My dad would encourage us, and bought lots of books, spanning different genres. After not seeing him for months at a time, we’d all tuck up in bed, and he’d read us a story, unfortunately, half way through he’d fall asleep, and start snoring 🙂

For me reading offers excitement, escapism, inspiration, and knowledge. It’s been a while since a book has enthralled me. On Easter Monday, the weather was miserable, there was nothing decent on TV, and I recalled my sister in-law telling me about a book she borrowed from our study called Partitions, she said she was so eager to know the ending, that she stayed up a few nights just to finish it (no mean feat as a mother of a young child & job as a nurse). I picked it up early that morning, and by the afternoon had read it.

Partitions is a fictional story set amongst the chaos of July 1947 (division of India into Pakistan). The reader follows the journey of the persecution of each religious group (Hindu, Muslim & Sikh) as told by a man. This man/the narrator happens to be the father of twin Hindu boys, Keshav and Shankar. They are fleeing Pakistan for India with their mother, Sonia (a Christian), but somehow get lost from her during their train journey, and the brothers are left to defend for themselves. Then we meet Dr Masud, an elderly well-respected paediatrician, who had his own clinic in India, but as a Muslim, he has to abandon his home and head towards Pakistan. The final character is Simran, a teenage Sikh girl, who flees from her home after realising that her father and male relatives decide to poison her mother, sisters, and young brother, so that they don’t get abused at the hands of Muslims. She embarks on a journey to Amritsar, but on her way, she gets taken captive by three Muslim men looking to exploit vulnerable young women and sell them to men.

Partitions captivates the reader; I was genuinely moved by the characters, eager to know whether they’d escape harm. By the end of the story, you reel at man’s worst capabilities (men exploiting women, the caste system, religious hatred), but there is also much love and kindness, the glimpses of the acts of essential goodness that save us from despair. Keshav & Shankar, Dr Masud and Simran all originally embark on their separate journeys, but in the end their paths cross, three different religious groups in unity. There are a few twists to the story, making this is a traumatic but enriching journey from which no reader can emerge unaffected.