It has not been long since I reviewed a book on the massacre of Sikhs in 1984. The oxymoron of unity in diversity has blown on my face for the second time in a week when I read ‘Two’ by Gulzar which is based on the partition. Independence is another word which sounded oxymoron this time when used along with partition. How does a country become independent when the citizens are forced to leave their abode unwillingly because the authorities had to succumb to the unrealistic demands of some interested parties.
Unlike the books we get to read of late, story is the protagonist. Campbellpur and its inhabitants seems to become a part of our life and fails to leave our brain. Very rarely does a book succeeds in having an impact of this intensity. Reader is forced to visualise the sequences as if a hologram is displayed in front of them. Author has initially laid bare the apprehensions he had in the inadequacies in translating the original story which has various slangs but the fear was in vain because despite the inability in translating the slang, author did a fabulous job in illustrating the life post partition.
The introduction and the author’s note surely indicate that there has been a debate about whether the book is a novel or novella. While the author invariably calls his work a novel, me as a writer and reviewer would call it a novella. Till the partition and the repercussions, it was endearing to read but thenceforth the Kargil war and the anti-Skih riots on 1984, was rushed through and leaves the reader incomplete.
Variants of human traits is the highlight of the book. We can see a knowledgeable, sensitive yet revolutionary school teacher and a snobbish cribbing and heartless merchant in one frame. While a child who lost his parents in riot tries to save his old grandfather, a woman who was looked down upon by the society chooses to look after the boy post the demise of the grandfather. The lives of the sisters who were locked up and raped by the rioters will send a chill through the spine even without the graphic details. What happens to them further is a pointer to the turmoil they have undergone.
Author through his poetic prose tells us that partition might be dividing the land with barbed wires but the heart of the nation never stopped bleeding.
This review is in return of a free book from the publisher