Partition under the light of ‘Post-colonialism’ in the writings of Bapsi Sidhwa and Khushwant Singh
Postcolonial literature refers to writing from regions of the world that were once colonies of European powers. The term refers to a very broad swath of writing in many languages, but my emphasis in this class is on writings in English. The writers in this course come from quite different backgrounds, but they struggle with some similar issues, chief among them being the legacy of colonialism – of European dominance. Postcolonial literature is of particular importance partly because much of it is stylistically original and different from earlier European literature. The best postcolonial literature aims to tell good, entertaining stories while seriously attempting to represent some of the most troubling conflicts and injustices imaginable. Postcolonial writers attempt to develop their own literary voices in regions of the world that may have been described in the colonial era as “primitive” or “savage” – where literature and culture were considered absent or somehow illegitimate. The larger project of moving past this colonial legacy, what we might call the “decolonization” of writing, brings up a wide array of themes. In this course literature, politics, and social theory will be inextricable for the simple reason that the texts themselves are intensely concerned with social and political problems. The postcolonial experience has been extremely violent and complex, with new forms of oppression and violence.
Here I would strictly wish to observe the theme of partition under the light of post-colonialism. A number of novels in the Indian sub‑continent have been written on this theme, This unforgetable historical moment has been captured as horrifying by the novelists like Khushwant Singh in Train to Pakistan (1956), Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice‑Candy‑ Man (1991).
These novels examine the inexorable logic of Partition as an offshoot of fundamentalism and fanaticism sparked by hardening communal attitudes. They effectively and realistically depict the vulnerability of human understanding and life, caused by the throes of Partition. The two novels share a lot of details while retaining their individuality as well. Instead of depicting the events in political terms, the novelists have provided human dimensions which bring to the event a sense of reality, horror and believability. Bapsi Sidhwa narrates the story of upheaval of the 1947 partition of India through the eyes of a young Parsee girl Lenny growing up in Lahore. The character of Ayah is introduced to refer to several millions of displaced, looted and raped Hindus and Muslims during one of the harshest political phases in the history of the subcontinent. While on the other hand, Train to Pakistan not only records man's beastiality, but it also proves that man is essentially humane and sincere. Even society's marginalized characters like Juggat Singh can be a ray of hope and life for the depressed and distressed souls.
Priyamvada Singh. Partition under the light of ‘Post-colonialism’ in the writings of Bapsi Sidhwa and Khushwant Singh. International Journal of Advanced Research and Development, Volume 2, Issue 5, 2017, Pages 283-285