Train to Pakistan Paperback – 2009
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An Authentic Version on Partition Manomajra, a tiny villages slumbers without much din of the urbane suddenly comes alive with fanaticism takes hold of the innocent villagers. The amity and goodwill give place to rancour and so the majority, the Sikhs on knowing the horrors let loose by Muslims in Pakistan on their brethern Sikhs, would like to let out their rages on their fellow villagers- Muslims. It is cast against a love story between a Sikh and a Muslim girl for whose sake the rustic makes a sacrifice thereby allowing her and the rest of the Muslims on their journey to the Promised Land, Pakistan. --Dr V Pala Prasada
read Train to Pakistan years ago, right back when I was in college. I can still never forget the novel, which is undoubtedly one of my favourite Indian novels in English. Khushwant Singh is a daring story-teller. He manages to remain one of the few who refrain from much of the linguistic pomp, glamour, and political pretense that dogs Indian English writers. His language is simple; his message is startling. The novel is based on the time when India won independence, and when the partition took place. Singh blends satire and compassion with heart felt anger: at the hypocrisy and cowardice of social activists, and at the bureaucracy and corruption that permeates Indian politics. The climax of the novel is the message of the story: action is never political; it is only personal. Nobody is going to get up and do a thing for anyone else unless it's for someone they love, unless it's something that comes from the heart. This book is an absolute must read for every single person who cares about Hindu-Muslim harmony. --Supriya Thanawala Nov 19, 2011
Khushwant at his best... A must read for all english prose readers... read this book many years back.. but still i remember each and every character of the novel... Gud narration, story set in the backdrop of partition of india.. describes love,lust,burtality of humans in a simple way.. --Santhosh Tarikere Devananda Dec 2, 2011
About the Author
Khushwant Singh was India’s best-known writer and columnist. He was founder-editor of Yojana and editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India, the National Herald and Hindustan Times. He was a member of Parliament from 1980 to 1986. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974 but returned the decoration in 19984 in protest against the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by the Indian Army. In 2007 he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan.
He passed away in 2014 at the age of ninety-nine.
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The language of the book is simple and gripping.The story of Train to Pakistan is slow in the beginning but picks on gradually as the events unfold. The end is the best part of the book because, when I finished reading, I was in tears.
I have read two more books on Partitions – Ice-Candy Man by Bapsi Sidhwa and Partitions by Amit Majumdar. And I have liked both of them. That time in history evokes immense curiosity among people from this subcontinent. It is hard to believe, today, that something of such magnitude happened right here, in our country, not too long ago. We keep seeking such stories from our shared history to make sense of such an event that left millions of people killed, orphaned, raped or displaced. How could people like us do this to their fellow countrymen, even close friends?
Train to Pakistan attempts to explain perhaps that incredulity in us. How could this happen? Mano Majara is a fictitious village populated with Muslims and Sikhs predominantly (with only one Hindu family), who live in harmony. In a short book of 200 pages, much space has been dedicated to the life in this village, and not too much on individual characters. When the country is going through the turmoil of partitions and its after-effects; this quaint little village remains unaffected, even surprised at the turn of events. It is difficult for them to fathom how people from the same village could turn hostile towards each other when they should have fought for their friends, so what if they belonged to a different community.
But that is only till real tragedy hits them. The arrival of a train full of corpses acts as a catalyst, and people could not remain unaffected for too long and turned murderous with little instigation because they are only human.
The village is the central character in this book, all other characters play secondary roles. Though I am a reader who usually seeks identifiable characters, I still liked this book. Khushwant Singh’s writing is no doubt the best thing about it. If you would ask me, if this book is one of those must-reads; I would say – No! But if you appreciate good writing and if that thrills you as a reader; then sure.
Here are a few lines often quoted from the book:
“India is constipated with a lot of humbug. Take religion. For the Hindu, it means little besides caste and cow-protection. For the Muslim, circumcision and kosher meat. For the Sikh, long hair and hatred of the Muslim. For the Christian, Hinduism with a sola topee. For the Parsi, fire-worship and feeding vultures. Ethics, which should be the kernel of a religious code, has been carefully removed.”
1947 was the year when English freed the Hindustan by splitting into two : Pakistan , a Muslim-based Nation, got its independence on 14 August and India, a Hindu-based nation , was declared Independent on Aug 15 .Till the time English reside, they rule over the people of Hindustan by using a simple tactic of Divide-And-Rule and when it comes to leaving the Nation , they did same with the difference that this time some powerful people of the same Nation second that thought. Now in the 21st century , People of India & Pakistan celebrate their respective Independence day but still there exist many who maintain a stoic expression but cried within their heart. Yes, two Nations were born in that August of 1947 but at the cost of carnage. Few Malefactors on both sides kindled the hatred for one-another , people who once resided in a single village like brothers butchered one another. Everyone till now celebrates the independence days but no one from the leadership on either side ever stepped to share the grief of those who lost their loved ones in an uncalled feud. People were provoked on the name of caste & creed & trains carrying the refugees rolled to another side were ambushed before crossing the border, Passengers were killed and then the train was made to cross the border so that other side would never consider the earlier one inferior in any case and then the latter did the same with the refugees . Truly heart wrenching that was.
Truth be told , My best friend wants to read this book so I bought it to gift her but before I could present her this , she left so I started with ' Train to Pakistan ' .First published in 1956 , Train to Pakistan is a classic of modern Indian fiction. The plot revolves around the a small village, Mano Majra , settled on the border of India & Pakistan in the summer of 1947. Unlike other villages and towns in India & Pakistan,Sikhs and Muslims live together as brothers in Mano Majra. But a money-lender was murdered and the suspicion falls on a Sikh was in love with a Muslim girl and hence triggered the chain of events which made this book a page-turner .
No doubt with a perspicuous style, Khushwant Singh had written this magnificent fiction pouring the pain, in words, he went through 'cause of partition. With his writing author had depicted how before partition people of Hindustan lives together . Characters in the book are deeply engrossing . Iqbal , a social worker who had come to Mano Majra for his social work but framed & put behind the bars on the charge of the suspicious activity. Being an educated fellow, he was respected by all who came across his way from the sub-inspector to the 'Bhai Ji' of the gurudwara. Bhai Ji was depicted as an honest & religious person who used to take care of the daily chores of Gurudwara . Then comes , Banta Singh , was the headman of the village & is usually called as 'Lambardar' 'cause his ancestors had held the same designation in the village .Juggat Singh aka Jugga Badmash ranked among the top 10 criminals and was in love with Noorah , a Muslim girl . And Hukum Chand was portrayed as the magistrate who had done everything possible on hand to protect the clashes between two parties. He made decisions for the betterment of others.
So ' Train To Pakistan ' is a metaphor which symbolises that 'humanity' is greater than any materialistic greed. And it's a must read for every human especially for the people of India & Pakistan !!!
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