Title: Train to Pakistan
Author: Khushwant Singh
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Historical fiction
This is my first Kushwanth Singh book and first Partition book I have ever read. By the time I finished this, I had tears in my eyes. When borders were drawn, millions were displaced, the darkest part depicted about the loss of several lives in the aftermath of the senseless violence that followed. I was totally smitten by this story & his writing style.
It is set during India’s Partition, in a small, fictional village. It’s a story where people know about partition and were coming to terms with it, without understanding the ramifications of it. In this book, Author takes us into the heart of the Partition by setting the story in the border village of Punjab. This book depicts the horrors of Partition and how it affected the lives of common village folks who had nothing to do with politics or partition. We witness, history from the perspective of the individual, see how hatred and discord was spread and coerced.
It’s a journey of a small village where Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were living peacefully and later becoming a part of religious hate and communal violence. Not everyone migrated willingly, minorities were forced to flee, they were forced to live their ancestral homes. In several cases, only when military came to escort them out, they realized the ramification of these events.
Book, shed’s light to various religious practices, mindset of varied groups of people along with the cultural and social understanding of that time and place. It also shows, that the blame could not be placed on any one group. Characters are the best part of this book. It is highlighted that no one is perfect. A political activist who preaches to the people, a corrupt magistrate who struggles with his own right and wrong, a local badmash, Policeman who can arrest anyone without reasons, all different people with their own moral and ethical compasses. In amidst of all, author has even showcased us that Love triumphs over hatred of all kinds. Love knows no boundaries of religion and caste.
The most horrific part was the arrival of Ghost trains from Pakistan at night, loaded with corpses of thousands of people with messages that read – Gift to India from Pakistan. And each time, one of these trains arrives a depressing chill grips the village.
Several people will be aware of the mass murder’s planned and yet only one takes a step to foul the plan of murdering Muslims on the train. The author neatly depicts the complexity of human nature and points out the difference between one’s beliefs and actions.
“Is one’s life greater or equal to the lives of many?”
It is individuals who change the world. You start with yourself; you don’t have to be an extraordinary person, or person in power, or have too much support, or literate or have strong religious background to make a change. All you need to do is make the right decision & stand with it even when no one else will stand up with you. The way it’s explained is extraordinary.
“If you do something heroic and no one is there to witness the act or immortalize it in history, is it worth doing it? For the purpose, it is not enough that a thing is intrinsically good: it must be known to be good. It is not enough to know within one’s self that one in the right.”
This is a deeply thought-provoking, disturbing book, that will give you a lot of ethical and moral questions to ponder upon. Author has highlighted the loss of humanity by all religions, without taking sides. Partition infused hate and violence along with millions of casualties of innocent people, being regarded as the biggest massacre on the Indian soil. It is recommended for anyone wishing to understand how partition affected the lives of people living in villages, where communal violence was unheard of. The rawness in writing style triumphed in making me fall in love with this classic read.
Source: The Biblioraptor Book Club
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