ERASURES AND DENIALS: CREATING AND RE-CREATING SELVES AND NATIONS IN THE PARTITION STORIES

Jessy Mani
unpublished
The article analyzes how erasure and denial of reality becomes the only strategy of survival for many who had lived and survived the horrors of Partition. The event witnessed unspeakable brutality, bloodbath, massacre of thousands. In the stories the writers bring out the heart-wrenching experiences of their protagonists who are dislocated, uprooted and forced to move to new borders. They cannot leave the past, their familiar markers and move to a new country. Many became exiles, many chose to
more » ... les, many chose to become mad, many lived in denial. Erasing the present, obliterating the new pressing realities became the only means through which people could cope up with the tragedy of losing loved ones, losing their homes and coping up with dishonour. In the three stories analyzed, "Toba Tek Singh" by Manto, "The Owner of Rubble" by Mohan Rakesh and "Thirst of Rivers" by Joginder Paul the protagonists go through a myriad of experiences and devise their own strategies to survive them. The Partition was a watershed, a cataclysmic event that uprooted, dislocated, scarred and mutilated millions. While the nation at large was celebrating the hard-earned Independence, the creation of a new nation, and the barbaric atrocities that followed the Partition created bewilderment for many who did not know whether to participate in the euphoria or to mourn the loss of humanity and innocence. With a single stroke a new nation was born, boundaries were created that divided the nation, people, religious identities and even selves. For millions, this traumatic event continues to haunt even today. Generations have been scalded by the event. Writers writing the Partition feel challenged by the multiples issues they confront-coming to terms with the event at a political, social and individual level. These writers were trying to recreate the mass killings, the appalling rapes, the cumulative atrocities, the neurotic hatred, the depths of guilt and the maddening vengefulness while also trying to keep the humane concerns at the foremost. For both the writers and the survivors the attempt to grapple with the psychological scars was daunting and led to erasures of memory, denial of reality, and a frail nostalgic attempt to reconnect to their floundering past, their homes and their lost homeland. In Sadat Hasan Manto's "Toba Tek Singh", Joginder Paul's "The Thirst of Rivers" and Mohan Rakesh's "The Rubble-Owner" the protagonists live in a concerted attempt to deny reality and to erase pasts, haunted as they are by their troubled memory.
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