Newest Review: ... of the dead man - now a spirit or ghost - who was watching over his sons. I warmed to him and felt empathy for him as he stood by, ... more
Partitions - Amit Majmudar
Member Name: dawnymarie
Partitions - Amit Majmudar
Date: 26/05/12, updated on 26/05/12 (123 review reads)
Advantages: Substantial, masterful story
What appealed to me?
After reading two impressive reviews of this book, by fellow reviewers, I knew that I had to read this. I felt like I should know more about this subject and this author seemed to have done a pretty decent job - keeping it real. As it has been received very well by the media and had impressive feedback I felt I could not go wrong with this one. The blurb captivated me and I was eager to begin. I anticipated a well written piece of work.
The prose begins as the partitions between Sikh, Hindu and Muslims are installed. Two young twin boys (Keshav and Shankar) and their mother (Sonia) flee their home and head for the train to safety in Delhi. Parted, in panic stricken crowd, the twin boys must face this hostile environment alone as they search for their mother. Daylight hours make travelling a little safer for when night falls that is when armed gangs prowl the streets with the intention of exterminating opposing faiths. A young Sikh girl (Simran) narrowly escapes death at the hands of her own male relatives in an attempt to protect her from Muslims. She is now alone and has the dilemma of ending her life herself in order to maintain her purity or attempt to make it to Amritsar and the safety of her guru. A frail, elderly Muslim man (Masud) makes his way through the night time terror and hopes to find sanctuary when he reaches the police station - realising that he has wasted his time he begins a journey to nowhere and no one with only his black medical bag for company. At some point in their journeys their paths will cross.....
An emotive journey...
Narrated by the deceased father of twin boys, Keshav and Shankar, the story begins. This concept was entirely new for me and initially I wondered if I was comfortable with it. As the first few pages turned I realised that it was working. I developed an understanding of the dead man - now a spirit or ghost - who was watching over his sons. I warmed to him and felt empathy for him as he stood by, unable to help, as his sons suffered as a result of accidental injury or at the hands of others.
The dead mans name is Dr Roshan Jaitly. He had been married to a younger woman from unknown origin (which dismayed his family) called Sonia. He describes how they met and the intense love he had for her and his boys - a family man. No longer able to protect them he feels frustrated as he feels more alive than he ever had now that he is dead. This man has compassion and through his narration I feel like I'm listening to a story as told by a kind grandfather. Roshan has spirit and is tenacious in his protection of his boys - even though it is only ever felt as a fleeting breeze when he faces people.
Sonia has been separated from her sons. I have not had a chance to get to know her beforehand and can only imagine that she is desperately searching for them or dead. The interest in her is kept alive throughout the prose as Keshav and Shankar continue their desperate search.
Masud is introduced quite early on and I wondered where the story was going initially as I expected it to solely focus on the twin boys. I was soon to begin warming to this elderly man, who at first is terrified to move from cover and eventually finds a strength within him to put the needs of others first and risk his own life selflessly. He was one of the most rounded characters and, for me, became a person that I rooted for. This author succeeded in getting me to care for Masud deeply and that is an achievement.
As Roshan flits about the locale between his twins and Masud so to does the prose and I think that it worked really well - some sections short and others a little longer. It kept the pace as fast as you would imagine the reality to be. With the introduction of a young Sikh girl, Simran, Roshan has another interest and we follow her horrific trials too.
I think of all the characters Simran's suffering affected me the most. A young girl who saw her mother and siblings shot and only managed to escape by the skin of her teeth. Once she had escaped I was immersed in her feelings of doubt and fear. I really felt for her. Alone and covered in her siblings blood (shot at close range to her) she began a frightening journey. She was at risk of being captured and sold - after being molested and raped. This was the reality of what was going on - she knew this and had a collection of knives that she could end her own life with if need be. It was important to her that she remained pure. After reading the horrors that this young girl endured at the hands of her father and others I could have wept for her. I am glad that I have had my eyes opened but found it an emotive storyline.
Little Keshav and Shankar have evaded capture and continue in their quest to find their mother - they never deviate from that focus and at six year old I thought they were inspiring. I developed a warm relationship with these two and, like their dead spirit father, I felt protective towards them. It was difficult to believe that adults would be so cruel, indifferent and callous towards them - especially if they deemed them to be an opposing faith. I was shocked. The scenes going on around them were brutal and their young innocent eyes even witnessed the sadistic treatment of a Sikh man as a crowd cheered. It was frightening to read let alone witness at such a tender age.
As the prose continues I realise that the paths of these three sets of people may well cross - this intrigued me as they were all different faiths and from what I had already read this was not good. I found the pace of the book quickening - or maybe it was the pace of my reading as I wanted to see what happened next.
The developments in the story in the latter end of the prose was crafted masterfully in my opinion - it was flawless and I didn't guess either. This is a clever piece of writing and very satisfying after the build up.
Everything about this book was new for me. I knew very little about the partition of India. I had only an incline of the battles. I had not read a book that was narrated by a dead person and I had never had such young characters as main protagonists. I found this to be one of the most worthwhile books that I have had the privilege to read and it will remain in my thoughts for some time.
Good old amazon.co.uk
Lower prices available from amazon.co.uk and amazon market place.
A solid FIVE
Highly recommended. This is a pretty quick read but substantial in content. The subject matter is emotive and the author has done a fine job at portraying the experience through the eyes of a deceased Hindu Doctor. I liked the pace of the prose and found it sped up at all the appropriate places - in reality the pace would be like that. I developed a fondness for the twin boys, Keshav and Shankar, who were so resilient and tenacious as well as being loyal and faithful. Masud has a special place in my heart, the compassionate doctor was a bit of a hero to me and I'll long remember him. Simran was a strong and courageous girl, I empathised with her and liked her very much. Roshan felt like a grandfather telling me a story, I warmed to him. Some of the events in the book are horrific, I was glad the author maintained minimum description as that was more than enough to evoke emotion in me - thought provoking for sure. I am thankful to the two Ciao/Dooyoo reviewers who introduced me to this one - I am glad I read it. A masterful piece of writing by Amit Majmudar.
Also published on Ciao.
Summary: A thought provoking read that will stay with me for a long time