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Memory And Nostalgia In Partition Literature

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The Partition was traumatic to those people who have faced physical violence, humiliation and sexual assault who were compelled to leave their homeland. Recollections are objects that unforeseen tumble from the mind and connect the present to the past. From the narratives of the past we can understand how those refugees perceived their own victimization and how they conflicted with their ‘imposed’ or accepted identity. In this tussle, shared memory can be powerful mechanism through which the shelter seekers acquired a specific identity. Sventlana Boym in The Future of Nostalgia, explains the genesis of the word nostalgia and states that nostos refers to returning home, and algia — longing for a home that no longer exists. That can also be seen in ‘Alam’s own house’, ‘The shadow lines’ and ‘Toba Tek Singh’. The independence price was the hardest bloodshed in the country. The attempt by the Pakistani army to replay the massacres of the partition in 1947 in and around the Punjab is a point often missed in accounts of the war of Independence. It isn’t just an event, an unforgettable aberration built into a traumatic space where homelessness is felt throughout. Partition subjects and claims that the spatial significance of the originary homelands loses significance, and what remains is the nostalgia for a home, recreated by memory. Dipesh Chakrabarty says that, “a traumatized memory has a narrative structure which works on a principle opposite to that of any historical narrative”. Like in ‘Alam’s own house’, the use of nostalgia is to cope with the change and loss. If the past is the foundation of individual and collective identity, the protagonist in the stories undertakes a journey to the past to recover their present selves.

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Through the nostalgic impulse, they try to adjust to the crisis of Partition. “This is the land of my birth” by saying this Alam could submerge himself in his own identity. But the question that was his land, his native land too? Made him feel more homeless. As quoted in ‘Alam’s own house’, “Partition had taken place in two forms- political and mental. The second one not signed by Lord Mountbatten. Just as there weren’t so many potholes and graffiti on the streets of Kolkata, Alam gradually learned to accept the changes then and at the end too. The slogan ‘the gun is the source of power’ faded but the traumatic memories of the civilians wouldn’t be much faded in their hearts. The role of memory in ‘Toba Tek Singh’ plays an important role by portraying the aftereffects of the Partition and how it had affected the lunatics. Like, a fat Muslim from chiniot, who was a member of the Muslim league who bathed fifteen sixteen times a day had gave up that habit. Manto’s story dramatizes the place of the memory by its mad protagonist, who resists the shift towards the new nation’s politically correct landscape. So every effort to persuade and force Bishen Singh to go to India fail, and it stands in the non-man’s country between the newly-mapped nation-states like a colossus with its swollen legs. Indeed, in a classic instantiation of Ricoeur’s memory theory, it symbolically becomes Toba Tek Singh, the piece of land that is memory. There he stays all night long and lets the officials from the two sides rush the barbed wire early in the morning, before he breaks down to the floor. ‘A leaf in the storm’ shows us the memory of the different women in the camp. The old women who was the mother of nine children, who had given her fifty children of their own, her children were killed. Girls were abducted, still she eats, sleeps, hopes. “Among them are people who ran for life, for several miles. Many have arrived with bruised feet, broken limbs and withered bodies. Not to speak of their fever and epidemic. Despite all this they seem to have got used to this way of life. ” This is how the people who suffered have tried to cope with the changes and the way of their life. ‘The Shadow Lines’, too is a memory novel in the form of pieces. Ghosh uses the technique to look back on memories to tell about past events. By using memory as a narration technique, the historical moments in the novel are intertwined into a compelling tale.

The narrator in The Shadow Lines summons up an array of recollections in a web of connections. The time and space differences blur as the collection process transforms past events into a sweeping sense of the lost. It isn’t the memory of only an individual however the entire of the subcontinent. The Shadow Lines in this manner offers voice to the quiet borne out of dread in each Indian’s subliminal personality. This dread produced is a consequence of individual and national injury that they had encountered. Intizar Sahib challenged the responsibility of live and glorify in eternal nostalgia. Nostalgia is rarely a source of comfort and perverse pleasure, even in Basti. It lengthens like heavy air, especially when Zakir tries to find his belongings in the new city, which history has presented as a gift of life. In the most recently produced works of Husain, nostalgia took a different form, as it becomes a reminder and marker of today. It takes the form of sleep or dreams from time to time and helps navigate the turbulent present. Intizar Sahib can make large and small historical steps and keep the past fully relevant with his clever technique. A journey leads you to a destination; the achievements of all these figures are silence, a vacuum that means that your individual destinations are always removed. Their exile status is their life condition. In searching for ‘home’ what constitutes the essence of their travels points to how memories can be recovered and recuperated.

At the end I can say that Partition Literature isn’t all about facts and historical event, it also depicts the sufferings and the painful memories that one has gone through during that time.

10 December 2020

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