Genre: Literary and contemporary fiction
Publication date: 20 Sep, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins India
In the months leading up to Independence, in Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel are engaged in deliberations with British Viceroy Dickie Mountbatten over the fate of the country. In Lahore, Sepoy Malik returns home from the Great War hoping to win his sweetheart Tara’s hand in marriage, only to find divide-and-rule holding sway, and love, friendships, and familial bonds being tested.
Set in parallel threads across these two cities, Lahore is a behind-the-scenes look into the negotiations and the political skulduggery that gave India its freedom, the price for which was batwara. As the men make the decisions and wield the swords, the women bear the brunt of the carnage that tears through India in the sticky hot months of its cruellest summer ever.
Backed by astute research, The Partition Trilogy captures the frenzy of Indian independence, the Partition and the accession of the states, and takes readers back to a time of great upheaval and churn.
My Review of Lahore: The Partition Trilogy
I’ve only heard of the horrors of partition in books and movies, and I think I will never understand the true extent of the pain and damage inflicted on us. Lahore: The Partition Trilogy harks back to the Mahabharata several times to draw parallels between the brewing communal tension in 1947 and the bitter rivalry between Pandavas and Kauravas.
It’s a timely reminder of the horrors that a polarized world can unleash.
Lahore (Book 1) is extensively researched–we are treated to minute details about the principal characters concerning the negotiation and deliberation of partition, such as Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, V.P. Menon, Jinnah, Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten, and various Princes.
I was especially struck by the role of the women in the households of these political leaders–their quiet, steadfast contributions and support without which our illustrious leaders would not have been able to manage. For instance, Patel’s daughter, Manibehn sacrificed her own dreams to tend to her father. Yet, we rarely hear of these women or even know about them.
Lahore shows the effect of high-level political decisions on the ground-level reality–the confusion among the common people, the profiteering, and the rabble-rousing. The pain of people forced to leave their homes, their businesses, and their communities to fulfill the dream of Jinnah’s Pakistan radiates off the pages.
I had to put down the book a few times because the horrific imagery was getting too much for me.
Through fictional accounts of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and Christian families living in mixed communities in Punjab, we learn how people reacted to the whispers about partition. How local leaders capitalized on the political situation to promote their own separatist demands. How neighbors turned on each other as outside elements sowed mistrust and suspicion. And worst of all, how women suffered in the bloodthirsty game between men through no fault of their own. Women have been treated as nothing more than the guardians of “family honor”– objects to be bartered, snatched, and used at will.
As a reader looking in from the outside, you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as the unity of the Punjabis is ripped apart by divisive politics in Lahore and the elite politicians in Delhi watch on in impotent rage.
Freedom was wrested from the British but at a terrible cost to India. The memories of partition are fading as the generation that experienced it first-hand passes away. But we must not forget the lessons learned the hard way. Books like these will serve as a reminder of how communal tensions leave no winners.
This review is powered by Blogchatter Book Review Program.