Ice Candy Man Questions and Answers
- 1. Discuss the various connotations of the title of Ice-Candy-Man.
Critically discuss the significance of the title of “Ice-Cady Man”.
Ans. When this novel was first published in 1988 in London, it appeared as le Candy Man. This was the title that Sidhwa had intended However, in the 1991 American edition, the title was changed to Crachng India, because the publishers thought, Americans would misunderstand “ice-candy” and confuse it with drugs. The new title for the American edition is more explicit and clearly indicates that it is a novel of partition, which prioritises India. However the original title had significant symbolic connotations. First of all we must remember the centrality of the ice-candy-man’s role to the love theme and political themes of this novel. Sidhwa deliberately avoided naming the central character. He is called ice-candy-man because this name has certain specific political connotations.
Sidhwa has always maintained that this character represents what she calls or considers the “icy” unstable quality of politicians who determine the fate of their subjects. At one point in the novel, Lenny the adult narrator talks about the “Ice lurking deep beneath the hypnotic and dynamic femininity of Gandhi’s non-violent exterior”. Such men are icy, according to Sidhwa because they are remote and indifferent to the human loss they cause by their political acts. She also feels that political leaders like Gandhi, Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose and the English Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten were cold as ice to the sufferings caused by Partition. Such an interpretation is again part of Sidhwa’s historical vision. She has always believed that politicians stir up trouble and it is the ordinary person, a woman like godmother, who “battles wrongs.”
So the title Ice-Candy-Man is a metaphor for those who wield power and it provides an inventive and indirect way to explore the role politicians played in the holocaust and bloody birth of Pakistan and the new India. Sidhwa feels that politicians like the ice-candy-man were just role playing. She thereby implies that politicians are not consistent and their public image keeps shifting. It is also suggested that the motives of politicians appear noble but are often selfish. Like the scheming politicians, the ice-candy-man also frequently changes roles. When the sales of ice-candy decline in cold weather he changes his profession. He becomes a birdman who takes pride in deceiving his customers. When due to communal tension, bigotry is on the increase, the ice-candy-man become “allah’s telephone”, posing as a holy man with a direct line to the almighty and apologizing to his clients that allah “has been busy of late… you know; all this Indian independence business.”. So towards the end of the novel, the icecandy-man becomes a holy (actually unholy!) pretender, which the author implies is the role of many politicians. Ultimately the ice-candy-man takes up the despicable profession of pimping. So overall it is seen that the ice-candy
man uses his glib tongue and power of rhetoric to be successful in many roles. The author suggests that politicians especially during the time of Partition were indulging in mere double-speak.
Overall, the novel 1s far too subtle to state a direct political view. However, it does not idolize the Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru and vilify Jinnah as often happens in post-partition fiction and histories. For political reasons, at times, Sidhwa provides an alternate view of Jinnah and appears to be praising him. However Sidhwa’s overall belief is that the maneuvering of those in power has no more substance or permanence than melting ice-candy. So ironically the seller of such an ephemeral product, the man who shifts from one role to another turns into the unlikely symbol of those who were making history or at least thought they were doing so. The title, as I have tried to explain is not just chosen at random but has several interesting political connotations which enhance the subtle meanings of this text.
Title of the novel Ice Candy Man seems to be contradictory as Lenny is the protagonist of the novel and the story revolves around the bloody partition of Indian Sub-continent during the late 1940s. Moreover, it focuses on feminism. However, the title Ice candy Man holds great significance. This can be interpreted and justified in two ways.
First, Ice Candy Man, in a broader sense refers to every man of the Indian sub-continent. The men are as sweet as candy before the partition. There exists communal harmony among the people belonging to different communities.
gardener, the Ice Candy Man etc. all belong to different faiths yet they sit in one group cracking jokes and talking about the trending issues. In spite of having sensitive discussions, they remain friends and all are the admirers of Shanta Devi who is a Hindu.
The masseur, the
Moreover, in the first visit of Lenny to Pir Pindo, we witness that Muslims vow to protect Sikhs from the upcoming danger and vice versa. They talk about their relations, dependencies etc.
But this candy-like situation vanishes with the breaking of violence of partition and the ice portion becomes visible. Ice Candy Man is seen celebrating the vista of Lahore burning in flames and feels excited about the death of masseur. He also betrays Lenny by ensuring to help Ayah but instead helps mob to locate her hiding.
In addition, the scene at Pir Pindo is contrasting to the first one, when Lenny visited this place. The Muslim men and children are butchered and Muslim women raped in the Mosques and then reduced to corpses by Sikh marauders.
Muslims also reply Sikhs and Hindus by killing their people and raping their women in Lahore. All this show how fake is the sweetness of man. It vanishes and the iced-face comes into light when such a situation arises.
The other perspective of vindicating the significance of the title is to narrate
the story of Ice Candy Man. Ice Candy Man is a good person having a humorous nature when we meet him in the beginning. He has friends from
different communities. He is one of the admirers of
Shanta Devi who is a Hindu. He possesses the qualities of wit and humour and entertains the readers with his funny actions.
But when the partition takes place, he happens to witness the train which carries the dead bodies of Muslims killed mercilessly by Hindus and Sikhs. He also sees the sack filled with the breasts of Muslim women.
This incident changes him into a villain. He cherishes the murder of Sikhs and Hindus in Lahore. In the final portion of the novel, he shows his extreme of villainy by deceiving Lenny and helping Muslim mob locating the hiding of Ayah who drags her out of the house and take her to Kotha where she is gang-raped and forced to become a prostitute.
But again we find a transformation in his character. He repents his actions and marries Ayah. He also becomes a poet. He tries to convince Ayah about his true love for her but she leaves for Amritsar and he follows her to the border This shows the complex nature of a human being that cannot be judged. title Ice Candy Man of the novel carries great and profound
Hence the significance both in terms of humanity as well as the individual.
2. Comment on the importance of the Parsi perception of Independence in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man.
Ans. Bapsi Sidhwa has emerged as a leading woman novelist writing in English from Pakistan. In her novels she shows her concern about her Pakistani roots, culture and the treatment of recent history like Partition. Being a Parsi, she also introduces her Parsi communityin her novels. She has a distinctive Parsi ethos in her novels along with her individual voice. She possesses a sense of individualism and humour which makes her writings lively. She also possesses the art of storytelling.
In Ice-Candy-Man Sidhwa describes the events that took place during the Partition through a child-narrator Lenny. She presents the Parsi paradox of whether to support the independence struggle or not. The Lahore Parsis have an acrimonious debate on the political situation at their temple hall meeting. Apprehensions of their status at the departure of the British emerge. It is observed that now the Parsi community’s fascination with the Whites is gone and they hold a status position, resulting in “a typical Parsi compromise.” The community of the Parsis is concerned about its survival. BapsiSidhwa also provides the moral vision of her community. The writer has emerged as a trendsetter in English novel in the Indian sub-continent. She provides insights into the antiquity of the Parsi faith with their tolerance of other beliefs and their cultural values. She lets her readers to know about the Parsi community with their rights, customs, traditions, beliefs and mannerism. One psychological factor behind the restrictions in Parsi community is the small population and its closed society.
As a ParsiSidhwa’s writings show her quest for the continuation of her community. “She aptly reflects the cultural multiplicity in which she has lived. It is Sidhwa’s sexual and excretory candour and depiction of enforced sexual innocence in a touching manner,” Sidhwa’s attempt to show the heart and
soul of the Parsi community has been successful. She presents realistically the reaction of the Parsi community towards the question of loyalties and Swaraj. The Parsis have also been presented a culturally hybrids in their faiths and mannerism.
The novel holds a mirror to Parsi community for which BapsiSidhwa had to face a hostile reaction from orthodox section of Parsis. The reflection of the Parsi ethos and comic tone in her writings makes her one of the finest Asian writers in fiction.
Ice-Candy-Man is the prism of Parsi sensitivity through which the cataclysmic event is depicted. Ice-Candy-Man is, so far, the only novel written by a Parsi on the theme of Partition. While the novel shows in the beginning the non-committal attitude of the Parsi community towards the flux in which the various communities of India found themselves in the beginning of the twentieth century.
It distills the love-hate relationship of the Hindus and Muslims through the consciousness and point of view of Lenny who is also an unusually precocious eight year old Parsi girl.
What distinguishes BapsiSidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man is the prism of Parsi sensitivity through which the cataclysmic event is depicted. Ice-Candy-Man is, so far, the only novel written by a Parsi on the theme of Partition. While the novel shows in the beginning the noncommittal attitude of the Parsi community towards the flux in which the various communities of India found themselves in the beginning of the twentieth century. It distills the love-hate relationship of the Hindus and Muslims through the consciousness and point of view of Lenny, an un-usually precocious five-year-old Parsi girl.
The novel highlights the dilemma of the Parsi community faced at the dawn of Independence. “The Parsi dilemma is: whom do they cast their lot with?” But perhaps because of the limitations of space, she does not go beyond this observation to analyze how the pattern of communal relations were subjected to a maddening change during the Partition. This novel also highlights the changing pattern of communal relations.
Set in Lahore, BapsiSidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man sets the tone and tenor of the events described in the very beginning of the novel. The tone of neutrality manifest in the narrator-character Lenny,in describing the climactic incidents of Partition, is anticipated in the Parsi get together for the Jashan Prayer, to celebrate British victory, at the Fire Temple in Lahore. While the Parsis have all along been loyal to the British government, they, however, fear the Partition of India and, consequently, are in a fix as to which community they should support.
Throughout the course of partition we find that Parsi community keep itself neutral towards the violence and later become the “Masiha” of the Sikhs to escape from the mass killing. In chapter 18 when Mr Singh ask to store belongings at their house in Lahore. Mother says “of course bring anything, we will keep it with Shankars and we will keep it as long as you want.”
3. Comment on Art of Narration of Bapsi Sidhwa in Ice Candy Man.
Ans. Bapsi Sidhwa, the Pakistani Parsi essayist, has made a powerful sition in this day and age. Through her ability of innovative and pertinent written work she has tossed light on different consuming issues of her time group at global level. connection’
and spoke to the minority Parsi people She feels that it has given her a remarkable feeling of ‘isolates for her nation and its kin. Her inventive odyssey, which began with The CrowEaters (1978), has developed from quality to quality in her progressive works like Pakistani Bride (1983), Ice-Candy-Man (1988) and An American Brat (1994). Bapsi Sidhwa’s third and till date the most famous novel Ice-Candy-Man the most talked about books of late circumstances. the eyes of
1988) is a standout amongst The novel tosses light on the biting substances of segment through year old debilitated young lady, Lenny. autonomy
an eight-Lenny’s improvement from youth to puberty, India’s battle for from Britain and the apportioning of the nation into India and Pakistan all grow all the while. importance as Lenny
The skilfully joined plots give each other considerable originates from a minority group that remained moderately impartial in postPartition relig-ious clashes; she has entry to individuals of all re-ligions, both inside Lahore and in different regions.
She additionally has entry to a wide assortment of perspectives, both preand post-Partition, through her Ayah, a lovely lady whose suitors are ethnically and religiously various. It is 1947. Lenny lives in Lahore, in the chest of her amplified Parsi family: Mother, Father, Brother Adi, Cousin, Electric-Aunt, Godmother and Slave sister.
Working for them, or gasping after Ayah, are Butcher, the tiny Sikh zoo at-tendant, the Government House nursery worker, the favoured Masseur, the eatery owning wrestler and the shady Ice-Candy-Man-Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, companions and neighbours-until their foul, regular world crumbles before the savagery of religious scorn. with
goes Lenny’s enthusiastic love for Ayah, and the loss of honesty that their changing relationship through the Parti-tion, is a lively focus to the plot. Lenny’s associations with her mom, her effective Godmother, and her sexually obtrusive cousin are likewise vital to the novel.
Lenny’s polio assumes a noteworthy part. Other minor yet convincing subplots incorporate Lenny’s folks’ evolving relationship, the murder of a British’ official, Raima’s terrible story, and the youngster marriage of Pappu, the greatly mishandled little girl of one of Lenny’s family’s hirelings.
Sidhwa’s concentration in this typical novel is more on account strategies and less on the story, for they add to the work’s aggregate impact. Right off the bat it is the principal individual current state portrayal. Lenny is a kid when the occasions de-scribed happen, and the occasions are seen through her awareness. Lenny learns of the per-verse way of affectionate human interests from similar
her encounters with her cousin, who courts her with an assurance just to the Ice-Candy-Man’s quest for Ayah.
How religious fa-naticism can breed contempt and brutality is obvious in the executing of the Hindus in Lahore and the Muslims in the Punjab of the Sikhs.
The dehumanising effect of shared mobs is reflected in the tale of Lenny’s companion Ranna, a frightening record of the human abominations that can be executed when all humanised re-straints are evacuated through outside occasions or political propa-ganda.
Sidhwa picks Lenny, a polio-ridden, kid as the storyteller of the novel since she furnishes her with a degree for recording the occasions prompting wicked Partition riots, without purposeful publicity. In addition, she originates from a Parsi family as is free from any religious or ethnic inclination.
In Ice-Candy Man, Lenny is the story persona. Her nar-ration begins in her fifth year and finishes after her eighth birthday. She reviews her first cognizant memory of her Ayah accordingly: “She passes pushing my pram with the unconcern of the Hindu god-dess she venerates.”
She additionally recalls her home on Warris Road in Lahore and how she used to discover shelter in her God-mother’s “one-and-a-half room residence” prevailing with regards to making tracks in an opposite direction from the “unhappiness” and the “bewildering unrealities” of home.
These perplexities incorporate her own polio tribulation, which she utilises as defensive layer against a “self important world,” her mom’s indulgence, her dad’s aversion of it, her strain to top off the “diabolical hush” amid her dad’s “quiet suppers” by “offering chuckling and lengthier prattle”.
These perplexities likewise include the family unit staff. It incorporates her dear Ayah, Shanta, Imam Din, Hari, Moti, Mucho, Pappu and the Ice-CandyMan, and masseur, a touchy man who cherishes Ayah and is adored by her, much to the shame of Ice-Candy-Man and Ranna.
In Sidhwa’s novel, one finds diverse shades of human thought, sentiments and conduct honestly voiced. Each character in the novel gives us a chance to witness into his inward saves and we are con-stantly astonished at the truth of it. Entries portraying slaughter and murder highlight the animal in individuals. After Master Tara Singh’s awakening address against the division of Punjab, the swarm turns “neurotic.” Even the police were focused on. And after that there is towering inferno in Lahore. Lenny watches:
The entire world is consuming. The air all over is so hot. I think my fragile living creature and garments will burst into flames. I begin shouting: madly crying-to what extent does Lahore consume? Weeks? Months?
Prior to the contention, Muslims and Sikhs lived in serene har-mony. They celebrated and took part in each other’s celebrations, for example, Baisakhi and Id. Be that as it may, once the enormous inconvenience began “Small time’s religion is another man’s toxin.”
Other than expressions which summon a frightful national catastrophe, Bapsi Sidhwa likewise makes utilization of gadgets, for example, bad dreams, jokes including lavatory funniness, verse by the well known Urdu artist Iqbal, Parsi entrance into India, their traditions, supplications, fire sanctuaries, and
funerals in Towers of Silence, expound exchanges and civil arguments on national governmental issues by the wealthy and the poor, itemized records of owns, for example, Pir Pindo occupied by individuals of various re-ligions, and the astringent change of later circumstances, constrained con-versions, constrained kid relational unions and numerous other mi-nute yet grave subtle elements, which prevail with regards to conveying to the peruser an entire range of tragi-comic and grievous occurrences.
As the story advances, everything is sifted through the cognisance of Lenny. Her enthusiasm for things around her is to some degree unnatural as we discover her recording each and every-thing like a camcorder.
There are no limitations on her developments and she is by all accounts getting a charge out of the considerable number of happenings around.
She can go to the Parsi meeting to examine the future game-plan in the wake of Partition clashes and can likewise saunter around parks, shabby lodgings, and such different places alongside her ayah and can have admittance to the well known assessment.
Be-cause of her physical incapacity and intelligent nature, she is adored and minded by all, and even her folks don’t keep restric-tions on her. She is even permitted to go with Imam Din in his visits to Pir Pindo, a town in Punjab.
This visit furnishes her with a chance to meet Raina, the kid who later turns into an apparatus in the hands of the writer to detail the occasions of cruel severity stacked on the Muslims over the outskirt by the Sikhs, therefore supplementing the record of Partition described by Lenny.
4. Critically comment on Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man as a Partition literature.
Ans. The Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 is one of the greatest tragedies, the magnitude, ambit and savagery of which compels one to search for the larger meaning of events, freedom came to the Indian subcontinent but in a fractured form. India was divided into two countries India and Pakistan, and the border between the two was drawn with blood as nearly half million people were slain in communal clashes.
Bapsi Sidhwa employs the first person mode, viewing the partition largely through the eyes of Lenny, a physical challenged Parsee girl-child of eight, afflicted by polio but endowed with precious intelligence.
Before Partition, Hindu and Muslims used to live together along with other minorities in the sub-continent. Although, there were traits of individual disdain but overall, they shared tight bonds. The best example of people belonging to different cultures and religions having good relationship is portrayed in Ice-candy Man through the group of admirers of Ayah, who belongs to different religions, culture and backgrounds. Muslims, Hindu and Sikhs all are live together. There was a brotherhood among all.
The proposal of partition of India had created havoc in 1947 among the minority communities living in Lahore. This is to reason that Col. Bharucha
by feels that the Parsees living in Lahore. It will not be safe if the place is ruled the Muslims. Col. Bharucha further feels that the Parsees in Lahore should shift to Bombay where majority of Parsees live.
The rumours spread all around the country were worsening the situation in the country during the turmoil condition of 1947. There was rumour that Hindus are murdered in Bengal at the same time Muslims being killed in Bihar. The British Government was not taking any positive steps for controlling the situation.
Sidhwa criticizes Congress leader or who were sitting on dharnaa blocking rail tracks as a measure of protect political protest by them. It was nothing, feels Sidhwa, but a political stunt. The Muslim-Hindus communal riots were turning into Sikh-Muslim notes also. The police were engaged in sifting them from the railway tracks.
The Muslims leaders were demanding creation of Pakistan by combining Muslims majority provinces: Punjab, Sindh, Kashmir, the North West and Bengal. Largest population of country consisting of Hindu, Muslims and Sikhs desired immediate independence. But some Muslims leaders of Muslim League and Congress were interested in formation of a separate country and for this they were even ready for violence and bloodshed.
Sikhs and Muslims lived amicably and years with solidarity in the same village. They helped each other in distress. But the Partitions of India and follow up communal riots have spoiled there. This is the reason that Sher Singh asks Ice candy Man as to why
he being a Muslim will not help to a Sikh. Sidhwa associates partition with evil and destruction. Partition marked a massive and bloody upheaval. Hindus living for generations in what was to become Pakistan had to flee to their homes overnight. At the same time millions of Muslims abandoned their homes to cross the border into Pakistan. The hastily-arranged partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan was broken by the departing British colonialists. Months of violence preceded the partition announcement often whipped up by politicians or various religious and political groups jockeying for power.
The claim and counter-claim in favour and against the formation of Pakistan was being raised by both sides. Muslims were demanding vehemently the creation of Pakistan but the Sikh was opposing it.
There are no exact numbers of people killed and displaced but estimates range from a few hundred thousand to two million killed and more than 10 million displaced. As we see in Sidhwa’s novel, the news of bloodshed spreads like the wild fire. The all India radio also reports about cases of violence from different parts of India. Soon the entire Punjab province is seen burning in the fire of hatred and communal violence. The Ice Candy man waits for his sisters on Lahore railway station. When the train arrives from Gurdaspur, everyone on the Platform is shocked to see the ghastly sight. The train is loaded with mutilated bodies of Muslim passengers. This shocks everyone and friendly ice candy man turns into a person possessed with frenzy and a desire to kill the Hindus. We can see some sort of change in the character of ice candy man.
the d The train comes from Gurdashur and everyone is dead in this train All dead bodies are of Muslim. There are no young women among the dead as they have obviously forcibly detained for sexual abuses. Two gunny-bags full women’s breasts is presenting heart rending scene. (N/
There were also change in the characters, people who were polite and loving before partition, they became cruel after partition. We can see such as character transformation in ice candy man. Ice candy man was soft hearted man. He is street vendor who sells ice candies in summer and birds in winter. Half part of the novel he serves as the comic relief for his kind of good humoured funny character.
Bapsi Sidhwa slowly reveals ice candy man’s role in the partition of Pakistan. The incident of train that arise from Gurdaspur transform peace loving ice candy man into selfish man and a savage.
Sidhwa also shows how a feeling of a communal hated transforms good people into savages. With turn of events he turned his heart and Ayah became Hindu women for him, but before partition he was an admirer of Ayah. He has undergone a dramatic transformation in the wake of aggravated the religious feeling sprouting within him. This transformation also shows how raw emotions in simple people can transformed them into extremists. Bapsi shows trauma and shocking sights which ice candy man witnesses.
the impact of
The novel, although is a fiction, but the atrocities Bapsi Sidhwa herself witnessed all of this when she was just a child. What makes Ice-candy Man a historical and political novel is the realities she has depicted by developing fictional characters in the novel. By reading this novel, we come to know how we achieved Pakistan. Sidhwa has received praises for writing a novel which narrates the history in the most compelling manner.
- 5. Critically comment on Feminism in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man.
Ans. Ice-Candy-Man is a significant testament of a gynocentric view of reality in which the feminine psyche and experiences are presented with a unique freshness and aplomb. It is tangible in this novel that Sidhwa turns the female protagonists into the moral centre, while most of the male characters either remain passive or indulge in violence. The female characters in Ice CandyMan pulsate with a will and life of their own. Lenny as a ‘girl child’ is the most significant female character in this novel. In the literature on Partition in English, she is the only prominent girl – child narrator, beside Attia Hosain’s ‘Laila’ in Sunlight on a Broken Column. As a girl – child she addresses the issues of children’s forced marriage to old and morally degenerate men and the gender bias to which girl children are subjected even by their own families. repre
The central consciousness of the fictional world sented by a younggirl, Lenny, who is lame. The lameness of the narrator becomes suggestive of the handicap a woman creative writer faces, when she decides to wield the pen, because writing, being an intellectual exercise, is considered a male bastion, outside the routine of a woman’s submissive domesticity. In contrast, her recuperation symbolizes the overcoming of the
of Ice-Candy-Man is
constraint on the intellectual activity of writing by Bapsi Sidhwa. By making Lenny the narrator of the novel, the novelist lends weight and validity to the feminine perspective on the nature of surrounding reality.”
By investing the female characters of the novel with the qualities of heroism, sacrifice, justice, and action, Bapsi Sidhwa makes Ice-Candy-Man a representative feminist text. Bapsi’sfeminist posture is manifested in Lenny’s relationship with her cousin who makes unsuccessful sexual advances to her. Their relationship upholds the principle of equality or even superiority of women as she does not allow him to manipulate her sexuality and he remains a drooling figure, adoring her vivaciousness. Moreover, Lenny’s lameness does not “become a source of self-pity or constricting force on her psyche.” Like other female characters of the novel sheremains dominant and assertive.
Bapsi exposes the lifelong cultural constructs whichrender women as an insignificant and a sexual object. The following statement of Lenny exposes the patriarchal bias whereby a woman has to be beautiful to be desirable while a man is exempted from such conditioning:
“Drinking tea, I am told, makes onedarker. I’m dark enough… It’s a pity Ad’s fair and Lenny so dark. He’s a boy. Anyone will marry him.” Moreover, her schooling is stopped as suggested by her doctor Col. Bharucha:
“She’s doing fine without school…She doesn’t need to become a professor…She’ll marry-have children-lead a carefree, happy life.”This statement of Col. Bharucha is a represents the prejudices and bias of patriarchal society towards women-the ‘Other’.Right from her childhood the sexual identity is thrust upon Lenny. Ayah, the heroine, of the novel infuses in Lenny the ideas of independence and choice. Lenny states:”I can’t remember a time when I ever played with dolls…relatives and acquaintances have perished in giving them to me.”Almost all male characters are presented as indifferent, apathetic or destructive in Ice-Candy-Man. The inhumane, insane, callous and destructive attitude of the patriarchal forces hasartistically been portrayed by Bapsi Sidhwa in the novel. The episode in which Ranna, a small child, wou ed, runs for life when the riots break out, has been mentioned at length by Bapsi Sidhwa to highlight and condemn the destruction caused by the dominant patriarchal forces:”There were too many ugly and abandoned children like him scavenging in the looted houses and the rubble of burnt-out buildings. His rages clinging to his wounds, straw sticking in his scalped skull, Ranna wondered through the lanes stealing chapattis and grain from houses strewn with dead bodies rifling the corpses for anything he could use…No one minded the semi-naked specter as he looked in doors with his knowing, wide-set peasant eyes.” Another instance of this callousness on the part of the patriarchal society is manifestedin the train episode:
“A train from Gurdaspur has just come… Everyone in it is dead…butchered… two gunny-bagsfull of women’s breasts.”The women were
not only killed but first tortured, raped and then butchered like animals. Through this event, Sidhwa questions the hypocrisy of people who glorify the image of the Indian women and worship them as goddesses. The patriarchal biases of the male-dominated society gets a realistic and artistic manifestationwhen it is decided that the women and girls of Pir Pindo would gather at Chaudhary’s house and pour the kerosene oil around the house to burn themselves. By presenting this episode in the novel, Bapsi exposes the hypocrisy and hollowness of the patriarchal society where women are considered insignificant. Moreover, many women are molested, gangraped and killed in the novel. Bapsi Sidhwa highlights and condemns this inhumane attitude on the part of the male members of the society. Women characters on the other hand have been turned into the moral center in the novel. No woman in Ice-Candy-Man in shown to be indulging in violence. Pappo’s mother is destructiveat a personal level. Papoo is a mal-treated girl, beaten by her mother, and is married forciblyto an older man. The author’s feminist posture is underlined in this episode. Ayah, the heroine of the novel, is a Hindu girl of eighteen. She epitomizes the strength of femininity and it is Ayah who infuses in Lenny the ideas of freedom and will. She is also illtreated by other male characters in the novel. Through the caricature of Ayah, Bapsi Sidhwa satirizes the callousness and the hollowness of the patriarchal society which makes the life of a woman miserable. When the riots break out she becomes a victim of the lust of the uncivilized and frenzied mob. Dilnawaz, the Ice-Candy-Man, leading the Muslim mob raids Godmother’s house in search of the Hindus. Mad with the rage, he throws Ayah into the hands of the frenzied mob: “They drag Ayah out. They drag her by arms…her bare feet-that want to move backwards-are forced forward. Her lips are drawn away from her teeth, and the resisting curve of her throat opens her mouth like the dead child’s scream…Four men stand pressed against her…their lipsstretched in triumphant grimances.
“In Ice-Candy-Man Bapsi Sidhwa critiques the stereotypical images of women and fights fortheir empowerment and emancipation.”11 She ensures their emancipation by ending the novel on a positive note whereby Ayah is set back to her home free from all forms of subjectivity and domesticity. Bapsi Sidhwa in this novel exposes the hollowness and the callousness of the patriarchal society. By highlighting domestic violence and sexual harassment in the novel, Bapsi Sidhwa tries to inculcate a sense of selfidentity and self-worth in women. Women characters play a deterministic role in the novel. They are presented as independent: they have a will of their own, a life of their own. In this novel, Bapsi Sidwa challenges the traditional frame work that presents a woman as weak, submissive, passive, acquiescent, timid and emotional. She exposes the sterility of patriarchal society where is a woman denied genuine love and spiritual gratification. She violates the systematic, traditional norms and values in order to secure an unconventional position of women in society, where women will be given significance and respect. Ice-Candy-Man, thus, becomes a feminist text
in the true sense of the term, successfully attempting to bring to the centre the female protagonists. These protagonists, while on one hand, come alive on account of their realistic presentation, on the other, they serve as the means of consciousness-raising among the female segments of society.
- 6. Critically comment on Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man as a postcolonial literature.
Ans. Postcolonial literature is a body of literary writings that has been written against the process of colonization. The root of colonialism always continues to spread, although these are not clearly visible to the common masses. Being aware of the colonial and its drastic impact, Bapsi Sidhwa effortlessly shows these impacts of colonialism in her most critical and influential novel called Ice-Candy Man (1988).
The story of Ice-Candy Man is based on the real tragic history of the partition of India into two independent nations called India and Pakistan. The novel is famous not only for the presentation of partition of India but also for presenting the aftermath effects of colonialism after the independence of India. It demonstrates and presents myriad incidents showing the brutal murder, killing, migration of people, and heinous rapes of women, arson, riots between Hindi or Sikh and Muslim. The novel begins with the happy lives of close friends including Lenny, Imam Dinn, Aaya Ice -Candy Man, Masseur, Hamida, Mini Aunt and Muchho. The important aspect of the novel, which distinguishes it from other postcolonial novels, is the employment of a child narrator named Lenny. The reason behind employing the child narrator is to be impartial and non-pre judice in presenting the real events of partition without any personal thinking and approach of the novelist.
History undoubtedly demonstrates British rulers always used the policy of divide and rule to dominate Hindu-dominated country. In Indian history, there are renowned stories of brotherhood and close relationship between Hindu and Muslim community. But this deep unity of Hindus and Muslims was partially disintegrated by British rulers through their tricky policies. This traumatic situation can be observed in the Ice-Candy Man through the relationship of Ice Candy Man, Masseur and Aaya. Ice Candy Man belongs to Muslim community but Masseur and Aaya are Hindus. In the novel, Ice Candy Man confesses: “I lose my senses when I think of the mutilated bodies on that train. That night I went mad, I tell you! I lobbed grenades through the windows of Hindus and Sikhs… I want to kill someone for each of the breasts they cut off the Muslim women… The penises!”
In the beginning of the novel, there is no place for the feeling of enmity among Hindus and Muslims but with the passage of the time this friendly situation completely reverses and they become killers of one another. To avenge murder of his sisters who are raped and murdered in riots of Hindu and Muslim, Ice Candy Man murders Masseur who loves Aaya and promises to marry her. He also gets indulged in other activities of violence. The novel clearly shows that this reversed situation is not a sudden result of any particular
incidents but a result from policy of divide and rule used by the British rulers They create uncertain and dangerous atmosphere where Hindu and Muslim can remain and live together for long time. Hindus and Muslims start hating one another for the cause. In this situation, thousands of innocent people including women, children, old people and so on are killed mercilessly by Hindus and Muslims without thinking who really is responsible for this situation.
History shows that women have always been victims of violence whether it is religious riots or caste based riots. Therefore, they cannot be spared from the ill effects of post colonialism. The novel demonstrates that the revenges are realised through the victimization of women in riots. During the partition, women are raped and murdered on the open street as presented in following lines:
“Setting fires, looting, parading the Muslim women naked through the streets – raping and mutilating them in the centre of village and in mosques. The Bias, flooded by melting snow, and the monsoon, is carrying hundreds of corpses. There is an intolerable stench where the bodies, caught in the bends, have piled up.”
Sometime it happens that she gets failed to understand from where the sound of wailing of women is coming: “The mystery of the women in the courtyard deepens. At night we hear them wailing, their cries verging on the inhuman. Sometime I can’t tell where the cries are coming from. From the women or from the house next door infiltrated by our invisible neighbours”. The character of Aaya and sisters of Ice-Candy Man are not just characters but they represent those innocent people who become the victims of partition of India crafted by British rulers.
The novel evidently narrates the hidden and vested interest of the British Government which has no personal interest in the development of India with economic policies. They knowingly introduced such acts and rules which could suit their personal interests. Although this aspect of development is not clearly presented in the novel but a deep study of the novel reveals that such policy and action are taken by the British Government to develop and improve the ravaged economic condition of India. In the novel there is no a single character who can be said to be flourished and economically strong. They all belong to poor families without any fixed job. Ice-Candy Man is the best example of the situation. Having no permanent occupation, Ice-Candy Man always changes his profession. There are no plans to create jobs for common masses. All the resources are transported by British Government into England.
Like Chinua Achebe’s narrative in Things Falls Apart, Bapsi Sidhwa has used the native words in the novel to show her anticolonial attitude. The amalgam of English language with indigenous words shows that she is delighted to write the novel in English but the significance of the indigenous words are not neglected. These indigenous words show the importance of the words whose essence cannot be expressed in words of alternative language. At one side she writes the novel in English, on the other hand she uses Indian diction such as ‘pahailwan’, ‘choorail’, ‘shabash’, ‘ghar ki murgi dal brabar’, ‘kotha’ etc. By using these words she wants to represent Indian culture. Bapsi Sidhwa’s anticolonial attitude is apparent when Iqbal’s poem “Complaint to God” is recited.
To sum up, it can be undoubtedly said that Sidhwa is a master of representing the postcolonial aspects in her famous novel named Ice-Candy Man. The novel not only confined itself with one particular aspect of post-colonialism but also touches upon the issues relating to women’s physically and mentally exploitation, divide and rule policy British policies, communal as well as religious riots between Hindus and Muslims, exploitation of resources of India by British ruler and etc. While reading the novel, readers feel that they are not only just reading the novel but feel that they are clearly watching and experiencing the incidents presented in the novel. Ice-Candy Man can be called a representative of postcolonial literature.
- 7. Critically comment on character of Lenny in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man.
. Ans. Lenny is the main character of the novel Ice Candy Man which is written by Bapsi Sidhwa. This novel is based on the post and pre partition scenario. Lenny is a girl belonging to Parsee community and is about five years in the start of the novel and by the end of story, she is an eight year girl. She has got a physical defect in her limb because of which her movement is limited and hampered. Lenny in this novel is a child narrator and being a narrator we can safely refer Lenny to be sole witness of every event happening in the story and thus we first have to see every event, happening or phenomena through eyes of Lenny and then through whatever discourse we tend to apply. Being on a position of narrator Lenny has justified her observatory skills. She has got great mindfulness of every thing happening around. ,not only just the physical occurring of events but along with that she gives us an x-ray disposition of every character,from their physical outlook to their innermost intentions with a child like delicacy but without child like imbecility For in the process of growing up with a physical disability Lenny has out grown her senses to the extent of maturity at such a young age, which contributed to her extra ordinary sense of cognizance which became our sole guide to tragedy, wit and emotions in the novel.
Lenny’s observation has not only made her one profound observer but those observations have led her to be a mix bag of emotions. If she loves, she loves with such fervent that surpasses her all other emotions, for instance her love for Godmother is one of an exceptional kind where her all pains succumb by just being around her beloved Godmother, for instance when Lenny has been operated and in an extreme pain but as she sees Godmother, she forgets all miseries in the benign presence of her Godmother, the blissful moment let her all concentrations squeezed upon the attire of Godmother while forgetting all about her agony.
“She sits by my bed stroking me, smiling,her eyes twinkling concern, in
her grey going out sari,it’s pretty border of butterflies pinned to iron strands of scant combed back hair. The intensity of her tenderness and the concentration of her attention are narcotic. I require no-one else”
Where her love is of extreme nature so is her hatred, at one place while feeling immense rage for Ice-candy man she experiences an upthrust of severe anger in her.
“There is a suffocating explosion within my eyes and head. A blinding blast of pity and disillusioned and a savage rage. My sight is disoriented. I see ice-candy man float away in a bubble and dwindle to a grey speck in the aftermath of the blast and then come so close that i can see every pore and every muddy crease in his skin magnified in dazzling luminosity.”
The statement above shows that being hampered by physical disability she has somehow sharpens the flow of emotions within her. And these very emotions became her medium of connections in terms of relationships, for instance her love for Godmother and Ayah have resulted in an impassioned bond of intimacy, even when Ayah was being dragged apart from her, she did not lost that unwavering love for her, she never thought of replacing Ayah’s place in her life.
These emotions along with her physical restrictions somehow became a significant reason for surrealistic thinking of Lenny.
Surrealism was a cultural movement in the field of visual art and writing where artists experimented the art form by mixing handful of reality mixed with intrigued realm of unconsciousness.
As Turkel in his paper about Surrealist Art says about Freud and Surrealism, Reknowned psychologist Sigmund Freud’s influence on the Surrealists cannot be understated, before Freudian psychiatry, the world of dreams was dismissed as insignificant and the unconscious was unimportant and inexistent.
“Freud discovered the importance Surrealists knew that this must be combined with reality in order to create a truer surreality. Surrealists had to find a way to allow their unconscious and subconscious to manifest themselves in their work, and so a number of techniques were created with that goal”.
of the unconscious and dreams and the
Lenny’s narrative contains many such hints towards her the surreality of her thoughts. Where she tries to make connection of her unseen world with the reality.
“Why does my stomach sink all the way to hell even now? I had my own stock of Indian bogey-men. Choorails, witches with turned about feet who ate the hearts and livers of straying children. Bears lurking, ready to pounce if I didnot finish my pudding.”
She somehow manages to escape into her world of dreams. In the narrative we find her quite a few times describing her dreams and sometimes merging the real with dreams that let her make sense of the life she lives, restricted movement yet very astirred and bustling in nature. For instance during her visit to zoo she compares the lions, real one and that in her dreams.
“There he lies, the ferocious beast of my nightmares, looking toothless and innocent.lying in wait to spring, fully dentured, into my dreams.” At one place while visiting Lahore with Ayah and Masseur she sensed the
unseen presence of Ice-candy Man, she presents the information which sometimes becomes difficult to categorize as reality or figment of imagination.
“He prowls on the other side of the artificial hill behind the peacocks when they spread their tail feathers and open their turquoise eyes: he has as many eyes and they follow us.”
Thus her this stupendous capacity to reside in a world of magical realism has somehow made her reluctant to accept the normality of things, she is happy in her wonderland. She is startled with the concept of living a life that everyone is living and that has also render her to live a less-mobile and docile lifestyle, she is comfortable to be uncomfortable in her movements, she is comfortable to be dependent on everyone else, she is comfortable to live an uncompetitive life,
“What if I Have to Labour at learning spellings and reciting poems and strive with forty other driven children to stand first, second or third in class?” Lenny’s real world appears less attractive in comparison to her hyperactive dream world. In the novel we find less accounts of her genuine reactions to particular situations, she has preferred more to react in her mind with her emotions oozing out of her bottled self.
For instance while having a talk on guys topic with her cousin Lenny felt least excited and lost her senses in her fantasy world to think of a situation which will cause her slumberous emotions come to life.
“The world is athrob with men. As long as they have some pleasing attribute -height, width, or beauty of face- no man is too is too old to attract me. Or too young.”
But we think not for too long Lenny was growing up and for her thriving with such peculiar sense of sensitivity, it was difficult to remain untouched by the grim realities of life, the amount of hostility and malevolent she witnessed during barbarous event of partition was enough to shake one out of the coozy comforts of dreamland, at one place we find her saying,
“The confrontation between icecandy man and Godmother opened my eyes to the righteous indignation over compassion.”
Lenny’s blossoming body was trying to make sense of the world that resides out of the realm of innocence and goodness. Her childhood capacity of quick learning helped her to be in pace with the gruesome factuality of life, she started to know the price one has to pay to be a grown up. Slowly and gradually she was becoming accustomed to the world of maturity and trickery. She was learning the artfulness of living a life that everyone has to learn when the time comes. An art that has to pay a heavy price in the form of heartbreaks and losses.
“I have never cried this way before. It is how grown-ups cry when their hearts are breaking.”
She was maturing with the pace of situations arising around her, she was learning how to be a grown up, how to say a goodbye to the world of childhood and innocence.
“When something upsets me this much I find it impossible to talk. It used not to be so. I wonder: am I growing up? At least I’ve stopped babbling all my thoughts.”
- 8. Critically comment on character of Godmather in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man.
Ans. Godmother in the novel is also one of the major characters. Her name is Rodabai. She is an elderly lady of substance, full of grace always attired in Khaddar sarees. And right in the start we get a glimpse of her through words of Lenny, as a fountainhead of love and compassion. For Lenny she is dearer than a mother. Along with her lovable personality Lenny is much attracted to her feminine grace. Lenny describes her when Godmother comes after taking bath.
“She looks like a dainty young thing. As if water has whittled away her age.” “She is a childless woman and Lenny takes fuller advantage of this fact by extracting all her motherly fondness out of her. Lenny’s definition of love starts and end with her Godmother. Her love quotient is satiated through Godmother’ phenomenal amount of emotional attachment. As in Lenny’s words this love is more satisfying than the love between a man and women.” Godmother also loves Lenny as her own child. She is never bothered about her being physically disable unlike her mother. She showers her uncontained, uncontested love over Lenny
“…. is stronger than the bond of motherhood. “
Lenny has rightly named her as Godmother, she is the only character who is near to perfect, her flawless disposition has made her a godly figure in the entire novel, like a mythical figure she emerged in the lives of people for helping them out of their miseries.
Godmother was not only a blessing in Lenny’s life but she also helped Ayah from her calamitous conditions. She has tried all her bits to let Ayah get freed from the abyss of miseries. The monument of love within Godmother turned into vehement saviour, her untiring efforts lead Ayah’s torturous life to have a much tolerable climax and Ayah ended up being at a Rehabilitation centre with the efforts of Godmother and is met up to Lenny’s cousin’s statement
“If Godmother says she’ll help Ayah get away, she’ll get her away.
While commenting upon the blood donating act of Godmother Lenny remarks,”Iam contain her blood will save many wounded lives.” Along with being a divinely human, she is one of the most influential and charismatic female character. She represents the feminist philosophy of author. She is presented as a binary opposition to the character of Ayah. Expressive, bold and resourceful. And is in contrast to her husband who is being introduced with the adjective’docile’. Her feminine grace is revered by all and sundry.
to of all faiths drop in to talk: and to pay their respects.” Godmothers espionage, her knowledge, her immeasurable capability listen and cure has made her a promising character who in Lenny’s words can move mountains from the paths of her friends and at the same time she had the zeal to erect mountainous barriers when need arise. A sheer epitome of a goddess.
Besides her godly larger than life attributes, what makes her an affablely human character in the novel, is her unignorable wit. Her intelligence of humour has somewhat eased the painful nerves pulsating in the background of the novel. She lightens the elements of pathos in the story. Her reproaching confrontations with slavesister was refreshing component in the tragic story. At one point sarcastically referring the slave sister for being late in making breakfast, she crowned her as queen,
“If bathing beauty didn’t take hours wallowing in her bath like Cleopatra, you would have breakfast.”
She knew what pain is and she knew how it could be covered or cured with little twist of words, so that they may sound less stingy and thus her humour worked as diluting the painful events and phenomenv as happening in the background
The bravery with which she carries her womanhood didn’t let her succumb to the grotesque crimes happening around. Her humour had the power to raise the state of any fallen woman. As when upon Lenny’s curiosity about fallen woman she says lightheartedly,
What’s a fallen woman? I ask Godmother.
‘A woman who falls off an aeroplane.’
But she is resoluted enough to save Ayah from the hell of prostitution. Where at one hand Godmother is an embodiment of love and good heartedness at the same time we can observe a transforming facet of her personality, the air of atrocities and bestialities has extracted out another dimension of her loving form i-e an enraged woman full of hatred for everything and every one worth hating as was the case of Ice-candy man, her rebuking remarks for him shows her extreme and disgust squeezed out of her heart in few sentences
“I can have you lashed, you know? I can have you hung upside down in the Old Fort until you rot…. Get out of my sight, you whining haramzada!” The raging storm within her was breeding the ache of her surroundings. She was sensitively aware of her people and land being slaughtered in the wake of newly discovered differences and hatred.
“But one of the face of her personality remains a question mark i-e her relationship with her sister who is always becomes the focal point of Godmother’s bitter remarks, the woman who has always shown a loving gesture to strangers is unable to maintain a normal relationship with her family members.”
- 9. Critically comment on character of Candyman in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Candy Man.
Ans. Dilnawaz or mostly referred to as the Icecandy man in the revel one of the major characters of the story. He is a street vendor who sells ice candies in summer and birds in the winter season. He is Muslim The import tance of his character has let the author to title the piece with his name for more than half part of the novel he serves as the comic relief for he is kind of good humored funny character who offers good deal of ludicrous romantic affair with Ayah. He is introduced in the novel as one of the admirers of Lenny’s Ayah. He claims to love Ayah, and for that he always find one or the other way to be around her. He has mathematically calculated the things for instance gossips and food in which Ayah has interest and then by catching Ayah’s attention he looks for tactics to be close to her and touch her in anyway especially his toes have become expert in sneaking movements, sliding over Ayah’s body every now and then. He very well knows the subject of chattering and convincing,
“Talk to me for a while… Just a little while,”, and Ayah’s heart melts over his pleading.He has got such keenness for Ayah that sometimes it coincides with lunacy for instance once upon hearing Ayahs refusal for watching a movie with him he becomes so enraged that he threatened her by throwing down Lenny’s brother.
According to Lenny he has an inexhaustible fund of gossip and Ayah gets mesmerized in the web of his beguiling words. And his art of chattyness has also served him to be a good businessman. In short his words have earned him more profits than his mind.
He mastered the roguishness of everything business like. He worked and acted upon business principles that’s why he had got that cunningness in business dealings which made him a good seller. He has got good brains for profits, like selling his birds he reads the minds of Englishwomen and crafts the clever ideas and compel them to buy the birds
“They buy the birds by dozen.”
And similarly his business mindedness is so much infused within his blood that even it did not spare his love for Ayah, like with the change of season he changed his professions so does he changed his heart with the change of situations. And treated her beloved as a commodity to be profited by.
he has enough quantity of hypocrisy he be
Being a good businessman came lover when he wished and became Muslim when need arise. “So what if you are a Sikh? Im a friend to my friends… And an enemy to their enemies… And then a Mussulman!”
And with turn of events he turned his hearts and Ayah for him became a Hindu woman. He has undergone a dramatic transformation in the wake of aggravated religious feelings sprouting within him.
Once a lover became a bloodthirsty for Ayah. He let her get kidnapped and gave her to the business of prostitution. A lover in him took up a bestial form. Where once he was ired at the thought of Ayah having another lover, now he
let her get molested by various men. In his rage he not only crushed Ayah’s life, he also besmeared the word human. He showed the unreliability of human intentions and actions, that one really thinks of God’s creating skills for creating such an unpredictable creature. After getting her physically assaulted by many he forcibly converted her and married her and then confesses his defiled nature in following words,
“I am a man! Only dogs are faithful! If you want faith, let her marry a dog.”
Icecandy man appears to be a fickled personality who also in one sense represents multiple facets hidden within a person. He presents a one complex equation between human psyche and morality. Like ice his character hardens and then melts. From one perspective he can be forgiven for his heinous crimes against Ayah, as like ice melting has least control in the phenomena its the outside temperature. Similarly human’s moral phenomena can thought to be contoured by outside factors. Here post modernist truth is quite evident that there is no absolute truth or explanation for a single phenomena.
Hence admittedly he confess his human flaw infront of Godmother, he confides his painful past with her and justify his business like and unfaithful character to his background of brought up in a prostitution house. His pain has shaped his present, he has learnt to love the way he had seen growing up. A love with divided loyalties. A love for the sake of love. A love as per the sake of situation and advantage. He has learned to work with heart and earn money instead of love. As Lenny says,
“… I realise there is more to his turmoil than the rage and terror generated by Godmother’s attack.”
It remained a mystery what made her change his mind why he let Ayah get molested and then why did he married her, then what passion overtook him which made him follow her to different places. All these unanswered questions refer to post modern discourse where finding out precise meaning and reasons behind any event appears impossible or difficult.
And so was his end as was his birth. Unfairly justified. He lost Ayah. And after losing her he becomes a mad lover and it was too late for him to repent. Ayah has gone far away from him and in the hope of having her back he follows her there in futility just to know that heart is not like ice once its hardened it can’t melt.
- 10. Critically comment on character of Ayah in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man.
Ans. Ayah is also the major character of the novel. She is Lenny’s (narrator’s)nanny and serves as the housemaid of Lenny’s family. She is a Hindu girl of about 18 years old. She is of short stature having wheatish complexion.She is described by Lenny as a very charming attractive girl gifted with abundant feminine grace. Her beauty is portrayed to be of that much magnetism that wherever she goes she becomes the eye catcher for all and sundry.
Up and down, they look at her. Stub-handed twisted beggars and dusty
on crutches drop their poses and stare at her with hard, alert eyes. old beggars “Not that she was admired by the lower class which Ayah belongs but belonging to gentry, applaud her for her beauty for instance at one even men place the Godmother’s doctor guests uttered flattering compliments for Ayah’s
And because of her exceptional looks she has lot of admirers. And most clingy among them is Ice-candy man.
Ayah’s beauty wouldn’t have been narrated with such admiration if Lenny would not have so much love for her. As much as she was adored by Lenny, Ayah also loved Lenny with the core of her heart. She somewhat made up for Lenny’s disabled limb. Ayah used to carry Lenny in her pram and they both were each other’s companions as well as confidants. Without Ayah, Lenny referred to herself as Ayahless (185) as if devoid of some body part. Apart from being dedicated nanny, she is an obedient maid who serves her mistress and masters with sincerity and love.
Ayah in the novel is that loving character who can be referred to as the propellant of the story. She is individually passive in the whole story but she is the one who is cause of many events and similarly suffers the effects of many situations in the story. She is not only central to Lenny’s world but even in novel she possesses the key role.
Apart from being propellant she is a character which wins over readers attachment, for she is a character which causes restlessness among characters in the novel and consequently in the readers. She is full of the vigour of youth. She has love for life and everything good in life like food, movies, massages. Her most amusing part is her love for gossips, for which she even tolerates the clinginess of Dilnawaz. While at one place we find her engrossed seriously in the gossips of Ice candy man,
“Hai! No! Says Ayah, looking appropriately grave and scandalized and for a moment permitting the comb to cease its struggle with the tangles.” Her gossipy nature along with bouncy walk won many hearts. But she was gravely in love of only Body Masseur. But with the shift of fate, things start turning against her.
When events in the story took a drastic and violent turn, Ayah became one of poor sufferers. She became the one victim to be burnt in the flames of religious riots. Her former lover (Dilnawaz) dragged her to the worst of the destinies. She was being sold by him to the business of prostitution. And once full of life Ayah became like a soulless body. When Godmother and Lenny visited her, the differences of life and death within her were quite eminent in Ayah’s looks.
“Where have the radiance and the animation gone. Can the soul be extracted from its living body?”
Where at one hand Ayah became a puppet at the hands of men. She became a living picture of exposing men at position of wrecking havoc. Where Ayah can be seen as the paradox for desire of the sick sexuality of men of all
race, religion and status, her molestation represents the perverted sexual behaviours which was hideously present in almost every male character in the novel Women and children (like Ranna): the most vulnerable ones, were used to serve and satisfy not only sexual lust but also the power lust, and made communal riots a tool to appease their hunger.
Where Ayah at one place was devastated by men, on the other hand women gave her strength, she dared to let herself set free from the prison of grievances. Over the lavish life of imprisonment she chose freedom. She was being wretched by men but was saved by women. Her character is the triumph of womanhood.
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