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8 Sep 2017

REMNANTS OF A SEPARATION by AANCHAL MALHOTRA

Genre : Non-Fiction

Pages : 400

Publisher : Harpercollins

 

Partition/Divide/Batwara. Three different words but having equally devastating connotations.

“These Stories strive to appreciate the objects in its totality”

Remnants of A Separation by Aanchal Malhotra is the first non fiction partition related book that I have ever read. I wanted to read this book because I haven’t grown up listening to the stories from the other side of the border since my maternal as well as paternal families have been based in India right from the beginning.

Picking this book up, I didn’t quite know what to expect but I was excited all the same.

A book that takes one back to the time of the Indian Partition through the objects that were carried across the borders or survived serendipitously when people fled their homelands is certainly a unique concept. As the author mentions that objects have the power to evoke the memories from the past buried in the deepest recesses of the heart most effortlessly, I completely second that having experienced it myself.

A book that amalgamates facts and memories. Memories of what people witnessed during the largest mass exodus and how it changed them or scarred them for life. That was a time when communal riots occurred and what followed is chilling down to the bone.

“This was the year of Independence, the year that changed everything and whether it was violence or intolerance, it was the year that saw the worst side of the humanity”

The book has been written in a manner where the reader forms an instant connection with the people telling their stories. One cannot help but feel shaken after reading each and every account because the emotions of these people are palpably real even after all this time. The magnitude of sense of loss and the shock from bearing witness to all the inhumanities that occurred back then was not so much lost as it was just not being revisited.

Emotions so strong that they literally seeped into the pages of the book and for that reason I couldn’t help but tearing up every now and then.

An extremely poignant account of how people were torn apart from their homes and were forced to start afresh. Despite all the despondency, this book also inspires in a way like no other. That people were able to create new lives for themselves despite the horrors and struggles they faced, tells one that everything is possible if one strives to work hard.

It was definitely fascinating to read about the lives of the people before the partition in their “Lahore” or “Patiala” or “Mymensingh zila” . A way of life so very different from what people live like today but that doesn’t make it any less real.

Every now  and then while reading this book, the question of “ What would have it been like had India remained undivided?” kept coming to mind but I could not come up with a definite answer. Partition did take place and its consequences were felt by the entire nation.

After reading this book, I felt heavy in my heart but at the same time I strongly feel that I needed to read something like this because this book has surely lent me a new perspective towards the history of my own country and even though these are not my memories but it feels they will remain with me still, in the most indelible way.

“ The ingredients of one’s past are particular and not exchangeable with another, yet I have wondered time and again, whether they are subconsciously transferable”

 Well, maybe they are.

To sum it up, I realized after reading this book that sometimes reality is indeed more incredible than fiction.

My Rating : 5/5 stars

Does this sound like a book that you would like to read? Get it here

 

 

 

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