Those who went through Partition always recount horrors the likes of which, hopefully, the world will never see again. Brothers were set on brothers, women were tortured and raped, possessions were looted, bodies charred alive, and memories of these events haunt people and families even now. The divide that Partition created has not been bridged, 70 years down.
This fairly short Khushwant Singh novel is set in the fictitious village of Mano Majra, on the border of India and Pakistan. It is the summer of 1947. But Partition does not mean much to the Sikhs and Muslims of this village. Then, a local money-lender is murdered, and suspicion falls upon Juggut Singh, the village gangster who is in love with a Muslim girl. When a train arrives, carrying the bodies of dead Sikhs, the village is transformed into a battlefield, and neither the magistrate nor the police are able to stem the rising tide of violence. Amidst conflicting loyalties, it is left to Juggut Singh to redeem himself and reclaim peace for his village.
A number of interesting character sketches, very typical, develop throughout the book. They are people that we seem to have met and known. This is the first novel by the author that I read and I was very impressed by his style of writing. Particularly nice is the way nature, daily life, and regular days were described. Through most of the story, my skin kept breaking out in goose bumps. It was a very insightful story about the pain of innocent people.
Quote: “Muslims said the Hindus had planned and started the killing. According to the Hindus, the Muslims were to blame. The fact is, both sides killed. Both shot and stabbed and speared and clubbed. Both tortured. Both raped .”