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Friday, July 6, 2012

56 years and still waiting for the Diamond

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Every citizen of India loves his country. In India we can find different kinds of people. Some can do anything for the country and some are afraid even of mosquitoes. But when any citizen of India heard the name of our neighbor nation “PAKISTAN”, an extra amount of energy starts oozing from the body. India and Pakistan have fought twice in the history and both the time Pakistan was defeated badly.

On 14th august 1947 a new nation named Pakistan was born and next day India celebrated its Independence. This partition was done so that Muslims could live in a separate nation and everyone thought that now everything would be alright, but the partition started the biggest fight of all time which is still going on. From 1947 to 2012 as the years went, the level of bitterness between India and Pakistan has never come down. Lot of efforts has been made to ease the tension but they always failed.


“Train to Pakistan” has been written by a well known writer “Khushwant Singh”. He was born on 2 February 1915 in Hadali District Khushbu Punjab (which is now in Pakistan). In this short book, the reader gets to know various characters, which increases the knowledge about the culture and social understanding of the people of that time.


This book was published in 1956. It’s a work of fiction which shows the situation after partition. It is a story of a village Mano Majra, a village on the border of India and Pakistan. When Partition happened, lots of people were killed. Muslims who were in India were forced to go to Pakistan and Hindus of Pakistan were forced to flee to India. Despite the threats, everything in Mano Majra was alright, till one day a local money lender is murdered. The suspicion falls upon Juggut Singh, the village gangster.

Villagers of Mano Majra don’t know what was going in the country. After this murder Hukum Chand came into the action and he ordered his policeman to find the culprit. Hukum Chand is the regional magistrate and a main character of this story. In his whole service he did lot of corruption using his power and is an alcoholic, he always feels guilty of the action he did in day and in the night he get relived of them at night with the support of alcohol.
He also slept with the teenage prostitute the same age as his daughter.

The Government wants the Muslim to go to Pakistan and when the soldiers came to Mano Majra, Muslim of Mano Majra refused to go to Pakistan. They said they were born here and this was their motherland. They never belonged to Pakistan but were forced to move from this village

When Muslims were taken to refugee camp from where they will go to Pakistan, a group of religious fanatics came to the village and told the local Sikhs to kill the Muslims and they made a gang from the village to attempt mass murder as the Muslims leave on their train to Pakistan.


There are two more main character of the story Nobal Iqbal Singh and Juggut Singh. Iqbal singh is well educated social worker from Britain. People of village thought that he is Muslim. Juggut Singh is an uneducated gangster of village, who involved in lot of gang war and fights. He loves a Muslim girl from
village, who also loved him a lot.

Both of them were arrested for the murder of money lender which they didn’t commit. After released from the Jail they came to know about a group which will do mass murder of the people who are going from train to Pakistan. Juggut Singh’s girlfriend also going from this train, villagers hated Juggut Singh and Iqbal also not treated well by the villagers as they always saw him with suspicious eyes. So they had no good reason to save this train. Iqbal Singh is in Confusion whether to save this train or not, but Juggut Singh decided to save this train and people at any cost and at last he gets succeeded in his motive.

This book published in 1956, has been the recipient of a lot of awards, acclaims and recognitions but the top jewel of Nobel Prize for Literature is still missing. The writer takes us on an incredible journey of 188 pages, where he portrays all the situations during partition. The prize does in no manner devaluate the book or its literary essence, but a crowning glory is what befits a king. So is true for this book.
 We all know that Nobel Prize is the biggest prize a book and its author can get; here are few points which will support this book for Noble Prize.

1. There is a scene in the book where writer shows, us that at that time there were people who didn’t hate each other on the basis of religion. When Soldiers want Muslims to be transported
from India to Pakistan, they refused to go with them and they told the soldiers that they were born here and their ancestors too. This shows that, humanity is above all type of religion. During that time communal riots are going on between Hindu and Muslim, but in Mano Majra Hindu and Muslim were living with each other peacefully and they believed that humanity is above all the religions.


2. In this book at every situation a question of Right versus Wrong arises and which tests different characters at different moment. Hukum Chand always felt guilty after his work in the
day, but after taking some alcohol he slept with teenage prostitute.

3. Government Officials were very corrupt and this shows that corruption was born quite earlier in India; Hukum Chand knows that he is doing wrong by transporting the Muslims to Pakistan
and he can easily stop that transport, but a heavy stone of “Corruption” on his head didn’t allow him to do the right things in the village.

4. People of Mano Majra opposes the transportation to Pakistan and shows that humanity is above all religion, but when they come to know about the love between Juggut Singh (who is Hindu)
and Noor (a Muslim Girl). They oppose this love because both Juggut and Noor are from different religion. Writer shows that in India people of other religion can unite for everything except love.

5. In the final Scene Juggut Singh tries to save the trainload of refugees from mass killing, even at the cost of his own life. Villagers of Mano Majra oppose his love, but still he wants
to save the peoples of village. This shows that Juggut Singh is a brave man and despite of the fact that he is a gangster, still he has some percentage of humanity in his heart.

6. This story can be read from different angles, a love story of a Hindu boy and Muslim Girl which does not lead to marriage and this happened a long time ago and still today films like
“Ishaqzaade” are made in which too both lover killed themselves. It shows that boundaries of love were drawn quite earlier in India. Also this story depicted the brutalities suffered by the people due to partition.

7. When we read any book, we tend to imagine pictures in our mind of the situation and scene that are going in the book and this is a special quality of Khushwant Singh and this book.
Before describing the scene writer always tells about the situation of the surroundings which gives you a feel of the scene and characters.

8. The most important message from this book would be that this type of holocaust should never ever again happen anywhere. People suffered a lot due to the partition. Whenever a bullet is
fired it hits the good and the bad alike, it would not see what is important and insignificant, and it makes its way without distinction.

9. In this short story writer shows lot of characters and their behavior. It is always difficult to handle too many characters and situations in a short story but writer handles them quite
beautifully.

10. Last but not the least, this book shows the reality of partition. Young generation can get lot of information about what happened during the partition, which will give them idea that
there were some people who supported the partition and innocent people who didn't want the partition suffered a lot due to the people who wanted the partition.


I believe that book and Khushwant Singh should be awarded Nobel Prize for this work because even after 56 years since its publication, people still read and buy the book. This book an
Indian classic which has provided us with an insight and ugly realities of the times of Partition. In a time when the youth are getting more and more distant from the real life and real issues which book continues to show them about the price people of India had to pay for independence.

I have no doubt this book will continue to offer readers an insider view at the harsh realities of the times of partition. This was the book which paved the way for Khushwant Singh to write even more wodnerful books. And so even after writing many other books "Train to Pakistan" is still Khushwant Singh's most famous book and India's too. Train to Pakistan has been a part of Best selling books list even after so many years. One book that can inspire people to start reading must be awarded the highest literary award for such wonderful works. I would like to finish by saying that there are not enough praise which I can bestow upon this wonderful book and if I continue I would fill up an entire book by myself.

Chirag Joshi 

5 comments:

  1. Tempted to read the book already!!!!

    Great work...

    Good luck!!!
    Way to go Patna! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, a lot has been written on this subject and I have read Anis Kidwai, RamChand Guha, Kuldip Nayar, and even Arun Shorie pitching in with their facts and analysis. There are known political leaders too who've written on this subject... and quite authoritatively.

    But yes, Khushwant Singh does give a different stroke to any topic... and you've picked an interesting book to review. However, I'd have preferred any of his other more titillating ones! :)

    Arvind Passey
    www.passey.info

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lovely review, Chirag!

    This is a very touchy topic for Indians and Pakistanis.

    Corruption has been an integral part of the Indian system wayyyyyy before even the Brits left us. As Gurcharan Das says "We've always kept our houses squeaky clean but spat on streets." We've been more concerned about our individual selves than the country as a whole and this led to a spike in corruption. In fact, it flourished under Nehru & Indira Ghandi.

    All Muslims were being transported to Pak because the Pakis demanded it. And Sardar Patel had taken a stand; he would give Pakistan the 50 crores they wanted if all Muslims moved there. That would lead to reduction in the massacre of Muslims.

    Great review :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Honestly, I don't have the stomach to read anything on partition. Saw a movies made by a friend on it based on Manto's writings.....and could not go through it. No it's not the gruesome truth that keeps me away but how inadequate we are to each soul that lived and died in the name of a freedom we still lack. Someday, when I have the courage to face my fears, I will surely read this one too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This sounds like an interesting book. Will pick it up. Thanks for the great review!

    Best wishes from Kolkata Knight Writers. :)

    ReplyDelete

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