Thursday, January 03, 2008

Train to Pakistan

Train to Bangalore actually...
I didn't find time to search through books so I randomly picked up a book and ran to the station. And through my journey I read this book "Train to Pakistan" by Khushwant Singh. I had some amazing set of companions to travel with, so did not finish my book.
I did drag along with it when everyone feel asleep.

The story is built around a small village Mano Majra, whose inmates are basically Sikhs with Muslim settlers and a single Hindu family. The stage is set during the post Independence days and the Partition. The story opens with the murder of the Hindu family head. And slowly yet clearly it portrays how the neighbours suddenly differentiate each other. The normally peaceful village stays peaceful but in their hearts they quietly build a communal hatred.
There is the generally attitude of the government too. They are the ones who know what is happening and also know it's out of their hands. they are the ones who try to live away from guilt but it haunts them down. they are the ones who cleverly build plots and try to evacuate the Muslims without any riots. they try. But they fail. they take it that it's out of their hands. They still try. And still try to be live they may take control. They also try to believe that they are not guilty.

The story is written well and clear but yes a tag too boring. I would not have read it have I not been on a train and stuck with only that book, especially on my return journey when no one spoke to me.

But I am glad I finished it. The last page, rather the last half page makes the whole book worthwhile. Brilliantly written, it leaves the reader with a mixture of pride and respect to the character that has so far been looked down upon. The whole story lies int hat half page. The meaning and the entire essence of brotherhood, sacrifice, love and courage is written down merely in half a page.

But had it been me, I probably would have written this story in five pages. But may be Khushwant Sight knows enough to write a book. He knows that without all that preamble the story would have no value. Probably the environment is not built and may be it would not enthuse the readers much. probably the life of the last page is in the entire book.

But to me, Train to Pakistan is just that last half page and I shall never forget it. A story that stays, it is. Hats off to Khushwant Singh. And I bow my head to people like the characters in the story.

PS: Incase you want to read the book please do not read the comments on the cover. Complete spoilers they are !!


  1. damn it missed it..

  2. @puppet
    I really wanted to see if anyone would realise they missed the train :)
    there you go...

    so here is the rest of the post :)

  3. i liked the book.
    it was a very insightful look at the relationship between people of different communities and how the "outsiders" intrude in the harmony.
    There are lot of subtle things that i admired - like the circular structure of the village, the rhythm of life based on the train timings, how the same train brings in a change in the form of revolutionaries, dead bodies etc.
    The story of the Magistrate was pretty gripping i felt.
    And the climax was gripping!

    PS: landed here on Vatsa's insistence. :)

  4. @naresh
    yes, the story was also built up in a very subtle way.. in complete contrast to the climax which makes it even more gripping :)

    @vatsa : thanks

  5. is it another one of his veiled porn works.?