TRAIN TO PAKISTAN by Kushwant Singh – Book Review

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In the year 1947, while millions of Indians celebrated the arrival of the long awaited independence, thousands others were reduced to corpses in the process of partition of India: formation of Pakistan. Statistical and political accounts show the reasons and figures of the dead. And books like Train To Pakistan show the pain, the grief, the feelings, the hardships that have gone through between the people who were directly affected.

India’s one of the most celebrated author, Kushwant Singh through this novel of his, published in the year 1956, narrated through some peculiarly lively characters that reside in an imaginary village Mano Majra, near the border between India and Pakistan, brings out the real, true and direct suffering of the rural people due to the partition that is remembered today and a bloody period and blot in the Indian independence history. Inter alia, he also gets the reader into how manipulative and unaccountable the government systems such as the police force, the judges and other law enforcement bodies that acted during the period were.

Besides all this, the characters in the book also put forward different concepts that prevailed at the time and still do prevail though not at that degree, like religious superstitions, stupidity, people’s kowtow towards it, and the hot and vengeful clefts it had spawned between other religions. Through characters such as Hukum Chand, a magistrate, ideas of moral conscience, unreasonably unaccountable power and the miss use of the same are expounded. And through other characters such as Iqbal, Juggat Singh, etc., idea about educated people that the rural rustic had and what they really meant in the real picture is explained.

On the whole, it is a book that is a must read to understand partition of India into India and Pakistan and what it meant to people who had to lose their loved ones, those who had to travel hundreds of mile, flee to unknown and disowned places for the life that they held dear and other vagaries that persisted. Kushwant Singh at the age of 41, created this gem of a book called Train To Pakistan.

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