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Remnants of a separation : book review

Remnants of a Separation by Aanchal Malhotra is not just a book, it is a living storehouse of memories. The author has used a very unique approach to revisit the partition through objects. Even after countless articles, journals, and documentaries, on the subject. The book has managed to strike a chord with the reader in a way that has not been done before.  The novel brings to light 19 stories, these stories are those of human and individual loss. The stories are about people who were affected by the partition of 1947 and are still feeling the aftermath of it.

Through her book, Aanchal has in a way helped in preserving and storing the memory of people from both sides of the border. She has done this with the help of objects that they carried at the time of Partition. Who would have thought that a maang tikka, a ghaz, a set of kitchen utensils, a shawl or a necklace would be evidence of a life that existed in an Undivided India? It’s unreal how the memory works. How an object has the power to survive through so much struggle and loss is beyond imagination. And it’s even more puzzling how simple objects hold so much history in them.

It all began when the author encountered objects that had been carried by her grandmother since partition. One thing led to the other. Which ultimately lead to the unraveling of stories that were hidden in the minds of the people. She started searching for other migrants with similar stories and objects to share. The book is a first of its kind that uses material memory and objects as testaments to the lives of the people who owned them.

Each story reveals how different each individual’s perception of the event was. Each story is unique and painful on its own. They will make you realize the struggle and hardships of the refugees and how they survived with little or no money in a country they couldn’t recognize as their own. The book gathers these different characters in one room where everyone remembers what the price of free nations was.

Remnants of a separation is a must-read for any history buff or any person who is even a little curious about the past. The book gives a fresh perspective about the personal and emotional aspects of the divide that changed the fate of millions overnight.  

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Written by Sanjana Vij

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