There is not a soul in India who hasn’t spoken about the partition or read about it. It is an integral part of our life even after 73 years and it will continue to be for many more years. Our list of partition books is long but one book that personally stands out for me is Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh. I remember reading the book for the first time in school, I had tears in my eyes after I completed it. When I re-read the book as an adult, the reaction was no different.
The book, set during the time of the partition in a small village of Mano Majra along the banks of the River Sutlej. The village is small and peaceful with all its inhabitants leading lives unaware of the departure of the Britishers and the partition of their country. The chief characters in the book are Jugga, Iqbal, Hukum Chand, and Nooran. Trouble begins when the village moneylender is killed. News spreads, the Muslims in the village start getting together to leave for refugee camps, violence ensues. What follows in the story is, as they say, history.
There is a simplicity in Khushwant Singh’s writing, a beauty filled with heartbreak. Train To Pakistan is a must-read for every Indian. You may not cry like me when it ends, but the book will surely move something inside you. The horrors of what took place can never be understood by us. But, it is through works like these that we can remember a time gone by. A time that defines us and will continue to do so.
If you want to have a look at other works by Khushwant Singh, click here.