Publisher: Aleph Book Company (30 December 2017)
Paperback: 136 pages
During the chaos of partition in 1947, something dreadful happened in the city of Jalandhar in Punjab. As a result of this, Salman Rashid’s family fled Jalandhar for Pakistan, the newly created country across the border. They were among the nearly two million people uprooted from their homes in the greatest transmigration in history. Besides those who fled, other members of the family became part of a grimmer statistic: They featured among the more than one million unfortunate souls who paid with their lives for the division of India and creation of Pakistan. After living in the shadow of his family’s tragedy for decades, in 2008, Rashid made the journey back to his ancestral village to uncover the truth. A time of madness tells the story of what he discovered with great poignancy and grace. It is a tale of unspeakable brutality but it is also a testament to the uniquely human traits of forgiveness, redemption and the resilience of the human spirit.
I’m always up for a book about Partition. Each book has a different story and you learn something from each one. As the blurb says during the partition in 1947 the author’s family fled Jalandhar for Pakistan, at least a part of his family. Another part were among the millions of unfortunate souls who paid with their blood for the imaginary line that divides India & Pakistan. Rashid was born four years after the partition and never knew much about what his family had to go through. So in 2008, Rashid made his journey back to his ancestral village to uncover the truth.
This is not just his journey to learn about the last few days of his grandparents and aunts but also about all the people he met, and their journey so far. What I really love about this book is that the author keeps drawing parallels between India and Pakistan, and it felt honest and unbiased. Some examples like how the railway system in India has improved after the partition whereas it has deteriorated in Pakistan. It was refreshing to read how people were warm and welcoming in Jalandhar but at the same time he doesn’t sugar coat anything. There were a few who changed their countenance when he mentioned he’s from Pakistan. The author makes us wonder how the partition and drawing of one imaginary line has altered the way how minds of human on either side work.
It’s one of those books that breaks your heart but you’re glad that you read it. It’s a super short read, and if you’re looking for a book on Partition I would highly recommend it. If you’re someone like me who doesn’t read non-fiction a lot then I would recommend it to you because it’s short and you can finish it in one or two sittings max. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book.
** I received a copy of the book from Aleph Book Company in exchange for an honest and unbiased review**