Lahore tells us how India, Pakistan Partition impacted the lives of common people
In the months leading up to Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel are engaged in hectic deliberations with British Viceroy Louis Mountbatten over the fate of the country. Lady Edwina on the other hand is tensed over the unseasonal blooming of Laburnums – she links it with imminent death.
Sepoy Malik returns home from the World War II hopeful of uniting with his sweetheart Tara, unaware that in the raging divide-and-rule, his love will face an acid test. Then, there is a woman Billo, who has predicted a rain of blood. People have thrown her out of the area considering her mentally insane, only to find her prophecy coming true in a few days.
Is it a history book of academic relevance? Or a human interest fiction/ non-fiction? Well it is a mix of both – and a healthy mix at that.
Set parallelly across Delhi and Lahore, Lahore is the first book of the Partition trilogy by author Manreet Sodhi Someshwar. A behind-the-scenes look into the negotiations and machinations that gave India its freedom, the book has an equal amount of both – the decisions taken in the corridors of power and the effects those decisions had on the life of common men.
In clear and lucid English, the author has portrayed the mayhem and tension that followed the announcement of Partition. In a straight and simple manner, she tells us that while Partition happened because political bigwigs wanted power for themselves, it is the common people who bore the brunt of it. We know all of this, but through her stories of sword-wielding men and women who became the easy prey of these swords due to rising religious tensions, the author is, in a way, cautioning us not to let the history repeat. The book is a chilly reminder of what extreme fanaticism can do. Written in a spellbinding manner, the book is an insightful portrayal of the time we wish hadn’t arrived in our lives till date, over 75 years after it happened.
For the Gen Y and Z, who are unaware of how India got its Independence, and are often not worried about the nation’s unity and integrity, the book is a must read, for they will know what went into the making of this nation, and how many lives were lost. They will also know how different Princely states, like Hyderabad and Kashmir, acceded into the Union of India.
But irrespective of the reader’s age, Lahore will surely make one sit up and question, and ponder over the times we are living in.