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Ice Candy Man Paperback – 14 Oct 2000
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About the Author
Bapsi Sidhwa is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of four novels: An American Brat, The Pakistani Bride, The Crow Eaters and Ice-Candy-Man, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was made into the film 1947: Earth by Deepa Mehta. She is also the editor of the anthology City of Sin and Splendour: Writings on Lahore.
Her work has been published in ten countries and has been translated into several languages. Born in Karachi, and brought up in Lahore, Sidhwa now lives in Houston, Texas.
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Top customer reviews
Wonderful. Great service.The cover's different though. Hardly matters. If you're interested in pre/post partition literature,this is one book you can't miss.
In the book the central character Lenny is an inquisitive child far from the gruesome impacts of the partition, yet bearing the brunt of it through other people’s sufferings. In her growing years this is how the world was opening up to her, and it formed many social, cultural and philosophical dilemmas in her mind. I could really relate to Lenny and her dilemmas about society, when I was a child and my parents were on the verge of a divorce. It was the first time that I was exposed to the dynamics of society and to a conflict that could lead to really harsh and drastic repercussions.
There is a part in the book where Lenny is talking about becoming aware of religious differences.
“It is sudden. One day everybody is themselves – and the next day they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian. People shrink, dwindling into symbols.”
She completely defined the religious hierarchy that had formed amongst people and explained how they looked down upon each other. And at the end of it there is just one question asked – “What is God?” I was taken aback by it. It made me think that the entire point of the conflict (the Independence struggle) was forgotten. India struggled as a whole nation, for years, to gain independence and when we came so close to getting it, partitioning India defeated this purpose, to a certain extent. That is the paradoxical thing about conflicts; at one point of time you get so caught up in it that the entire point of it seems to be forgotten.
The book talks about how during the partition of India, millions of people’s lives were uprooted from their homes. It also talks about the violent nature of the communal riots and massacres that took places in Lahore then.
“Within three months seven million Muslims and five million Hindus and Sikhs are uprooted in the largest and most terrible exchange of population known to history.”
Not only did people’s homes get uprooted, many of their relationships were uprooted as well. In the process of migration, many people lost their family members, women were raped and tortured, and children were abused, killed, and orphaned. People were literally treated as objects, like chopping vegetables. “How soon he had become accustomed to thinking of people he had known all his life as bodies.”
“The Radcliff Commission deals out Indian cities like a pack of cards. Lahore is dealt to Pakistan, Amritsar to India. Sialkot to Pakistan. Pathankot to India. I am a Pakistani. In a snap. Just like that.” Like the Indian cities, it seemed like people were being thrown around like a pack of cards. To me, the thought of my parents separating was also like the partition. My mind had made a line between my two parents. Suddenly, it was my mother on one side and my father on the other. It was difficult for me to understand the suddenness of the changes that were lying ahead. Similarly even Sidhwa has portrayed in the book, how after the partition, there was a major psychological impact on the people due to a sudden identity change. There was a change in their sense of belongingness, a sense of root-lessness and losses that were irreparable.
Even though this communal violence prevailed for a matter of days, Lenny talked about how she felt like the fire in Lahore went on for months. “In my memory it is branded over an inordinate length of time: memory demands poetic licence.” Time feels slow when in an excruciating situation.
Lenny even talked about a box in their house which kept disappearing, until one day she and her brother Adi discovered that it contained their father’s revolver. The box seems to symbolize the sheer strength one feels when one has power in their hands. And if it falls into the wrong hands it could make many feel powerless. She even shows the contrast between the personalities of Nehru who is loveable, charming and supported by the Raj and Jinnah who is incapable of compliments, with a cause towards Hindu Muslim unity.
“It doesn’t make sense – but if that’s how it is, it is.”
When Lenny tells Ice candy man where Ayah is, she doesn’t know the consequences it would lead to, for Ayah or for herself. Ayah gets kidnapped by the Muslim men and is taken away from Lenny. She considers her tongue truth infected. As kids, we are taught to always speak the truth, as simple as that. But it’s not that simple. In conclusion, I would say that sometimes in history many details are forgotten, creating loopholes in viewing the larger picture. Sidhwa has made a great attempt to fill in these loopholes, to show the impacts of the partition of India.
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