There is much disturbing talk. India is going to be broken. Can one break a country? And what happens if they break it where our house is? I ask Cousin.
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There is much disturbing talk. India is going to be broken. Can one break a country? And what happens if they break it where our house is? I ask Cousin. Rubbish, he says, no ones going to break India. Its not made of glass! Cracking India also known as Ice Candy Man is one of those novels that year-old Anum more interested in North American YAnot that theres anything wrong with reading a particular genre as long as one matures enough to eventually give other genres and nationalities a There is much disturbing talk.
But year-old Anum can very clearly appreciate the importance of reading any and all fiction related to the partition—an event so shocking and traumatic that its repercussions still resonate in the here and now in both Pakistan and India and of course Kashmir, but that is a topic for another day.
But before the British could be kicked out, a decision had to be made about who was going to rule the area upon their leaving, and this led to major conflicts between the Muslims and Hindus in the subcontinent not the only religious parties in the area but certainly those in the majority who both had different ideas about what should happen. Long story very very short, in when the British eventually left, the whole area was divided into two: one piece was called India, and was considered the land of the Hindus although of course other minorities continue to exist there, and the state is actually secular—again, a topic for another day and a completely new state called Pakistan was created—supposedly a land for Muslims but of course any well-read human being will tell you that the rampant violation of human rights makes it something else entirely.
Think The Diary of Anne Frank, except this is fiction and the setting is another major historical event involving lots of death and conflict and at the same time emergence of adulthood and the pains of growing up. Lenny, our protagonist, suffers from polio Pakistan is one of the two countries where children still suffer from Poliomyelitis; literally the rest of the world has managed to eradicate it , a disease which affects young children and causes muscle weakness and in some cases paralysis.
The situation is reported to be under control. Lenny, with her crippled leg, is more interested in retaining her abnormal foot, because she believes it helps her live a life more pampered than other people. What will happen once the cast comes off? What if my foot emerges immaculate, fault-free? Will I have to behave like other children, slogging for my share of love and other handouts? Her Ayah, who acts as a sort of beacon for men of all religions because of her beauty and sexuality, is always surrounded by Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, all of them intent on engaging in discussions not only about politics but about what to eat that day and where they want to meet up; mundane things, silly things amongst all the serious, charged atmosphere.
This, I found truly intriguing. All these people belonging to different faiths sit down regularly and have frank, if sometimes bitter, but mostly honest conversations about what the political climate is like, and how it affects them. A body was stuffed into a manhole in my locality. It was discovered this morning because of the smell: a young, good-looking man.
Still, the majority of our story, being that it is situated in such a volatile period of history, comes back again and again to its main, central plot point: that of the partition itself.
I become aware of religious differences. It is sudden. One day everybody is themselves — and the next day they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian.
People shrink, dwindling into symbols. Ayah is no longer just my all-encompassing Ayah — she is also a token. A Hindu. Weird, but true. Blatant humour, subtle jesting, even moments of outright hilarity occur here and there, lending a lighter touch to the otherwise horrifying repetitions of rape, death and kidnapping that dot the narrative.
So, we are English! But the fascinating thing this story does is that it plants these figures in that time very solidly, like figurines coming to life out of history books. Suddenly the actions of Nehru and Gandhi and Jinnah and Lord Wavell and Mountbatten, people who existed too long away for me to really care about, suddenly seem much more significant, carrying so much more weight.
Muslim or Sikh, we are basically Jats. We are brothers. How can we fight each other? And an enemy to their enemies. And then a Mussulman!
God and the politicians have enough servers. So, I serve my friends. I have a radio. But our relationships with the Hindus are bound by strong ties. The city folk can afford to fight. We are dependent on each other: bound by our toil. To us villagers, what does it matter if a peasant is a Hindu, or a Muslim, or a Sikh? And when they do, when friends turn against each other, it is where the story hurts the most. Those were the moments when you need a break from reading this novel, because you ache both for the Muslim whose family has been slaughtered during a train ride, but you also pity the Hindu whose family is the one the remaining Muslims take their anger out on.
An example: Some seventy-five thousand women were raped, and many of them were then disfigured or dismembered. A naked child, twitching on a spear struck between her shoulders, is waved like a flag: her screamless mouth agape she is staring straight up at me. A crimson fury blinds me. I want to dive into the bestial creature clawing entrails, plucking eyes, tearing limbs, gouging hearts, smashing brains: but the creature has too many stony hearts, too many sightless eyes, deaf ears, mindless brains and tons of entwined entrails.
Recommendation I am Pakistani. In a snap. Just like that. The story is vicious in its honesty, and in how the characters react to the situations around them. To read more reviews or just contact me so you can talk about books, check out my Blog or follow me on Twitter! Different names. Thank god for best friends who are completing a thesis which requires them to be smart and know this stuff.
The plot involves Lenny, a 4-year-old Parsee girl who recounts her childhood memories after she is struck by polio in her infancy. She spends most of her time with her ayah Shanta, an year-old Hindu girl from Amritsar. Their relationship is the main narrative because Lenny spends a lot of time with her Ayah and she learns a lot about adult relationships from being with the voluptuous nanny and her very diverse group of admirers. Sexual awakening is a major theme of the book but so is communal identity as the story takes place between and when India gained independence but was split into two countries. Lenny has a lot of female relatives and this novel has a plethora of characters, but Ayah is the one she is most intimate with. The tone of the novel, written almost completely in the present tense, is rather caustic and remote much like the relationship between the children and their parents. This distance is enforced by the fact that in a couple of passages the writer reveals that she conjured up this little girl and her memories 40 years after they happened.