Creativity, criticism try to heal the pain of partition

Kolkata: By acting as creative and critical responses to the painful partition of 1947, a collection of short stories, poems, articles, memoirs and literary criticism of narratives try to heal the psyche of people living in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"Barbed Wire: Borders and Partitions in South Asia" published by Routledge India Originals, presents a deeper perspective of history by highlighting the dents that partition left on the minds of those who experienced it.

Each contributor, which includes renowned scholars and litterateurs, brings back the memories of partition which severely affects them even today. Edited by independent researcher and lecturer Jayita Sengupta, the book was released recently at the Oxford Bookstore here.

Sahitya Akademi Award winning poet and short story writer Keki N Daruwalla`s "Partition Ghazal" movingly reminds us of the pace of history, of 1947 intermittently creeping into our present through the powerful image of journeying in a caravan. The metaphor of a caravan reinforces the continued loss of identity and a sense of exile or not `belonging`.  The `kar sevaks` have kept alive the communal feelings and the poet fears that a territory so fraught with the effects of one colonial rule could be subject to neo-colonial powers again.

Famous Urdu writer Jeelani Bano`s short story "Criminal" powerfully depicts the feelings of distrust among two friends, belonging to the two religious communities, in the wake of a riot.

Sreemanti Mukherjee`s essay takes up the stories of controversial Urdu author Saadat Hassan Manto and critically analyses how partition provoked the instinctual evil in man and led him on to acts of violence. While attempting to understand Manto`s artistic consciousness she analyses the tropes of `madness` and `dislocation` in his works and compares him with Gogol and other writers of modern short fiction.

Renowned Bengali author Achintya Kumar Sengupta`s long narrative poem takes a dig at the national leaders and their changed stances once the freedom was bought at such a price.

Somdatta Mandal`s essay looks at the visual representations of refugee living in Bengal with Ritwik Ghatak`s films like `Meghe Dhaka Tara`, `Komal Gandhar` and `Subarnarekha`.

Beginning with the issue of partition, the problems and pains of migration and rootlessness, Ghatak made classic depiction of the utopian and dystopian visions of homeland in an independent Bengal.

Explaining the importance of continuous remembering of the past, the author Sengupta says it empowers the post-partition generation to listen and re-tell difficult stories and to have a meaningful existence, individual as well as collective.
The critical essays on narratives, creative writings and memoirs transcend the temporal space to engage the reader in a dialogical conversation through reading, understanding and negotiating the past and reconstructing his identity.