Train to Pakistan Questions and Answers
1. Critically discuss the theme of Love and Sacrifice in time of Partition in Khushwant Singh’s “Train to Pakistan“.
Ans. Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan highlights the futility of blaming each other for the unfortunate event. Also, the novel is one of the first and most effective works on partition. While writing the novel, the writer has quite objectively treated the event, without blaming a community or religious minority for it. He has tried to stay away from the blame. “Muslims said the Hindus had planned and started the killing. According to the Hindus, the Muslims were to blame”. According to him, “The fact is, both sides killed. Both shot and stubbed and speared and clubbed. Both tortured. Both raped” (Singh 1). Though there are numerous works written on partition but Train to Pakistan stands out as it does not treat the usual themes of indiscriminate killings of people. The killings and violence is no doubt a part of it but not the central theme. His focus shifts to the other associated issues at the time of partition.
Train to Pakistan opens in the fictional village Mano Majra and describes how the entire village gets involved in the carnage during the partition. In spite of the repeated peace keeping efforts by many people in the village, the bloodshed could not be stopped. On the surface, the novel describes how suddenly everything changed and made people react in very unusual ways. Commenting upon the major themes of the novel, critics say:
“Train to Pakistan is the touching tale of a village, Mano Majra, struck down by the hate and the violence that came with the division of the subcontinent when a train-load of massacred men, women and children arrive in the village. It reveals with pitiless precision a picture of the bestial horrors enacted on the Indo-Pakistan border during the days of 1947. The predominant features of the novel are its stark realism, its absolute fidelity to the truth, and above all, its trenchant exposure of the partition horrors.”
The friction among the people belonging to different religions was something that had brewed suddenly. “Before partition, cultural integration between Muslim and Hindu and Sikh in the subcontinent was harmonious and mellifluous but turned into enmity after partition”. In the novel we see that initially the general atmosphere was peaceful and people did not as such mind the presence of people belonging to different religions. Mano Majra remains unaffected as the sub-inspector of police says: “No communal trouble in the area?’…’ We have escaped it so far, sir””. They never forgot the fact that they had been living together for years and a momentary decision should not
be strong enough to break those bonds. Even after the communal tension envelops most of the regions, Mano Majra manages to maintain the peace and tolerance in spite of the heterogeneity of the village :
“The riots had become a rout. By the summer of 1947, when the creation of the new state of Pakistan was formally announced, ten million peopleMuslims and Hindus and Sikhs were in fight. By the time the monsoon broke, almost a million of them were dead, and all of Northern India was in arms, in terror, or in hiding. The only remaining cases of peace were a scatter of villages lost in the remote reaches of the frontier. One of these villages was Mano Majra.”
But then after sometime, an act of dacoity in the village causes a lot of tension. Later on, the arrival of “ghost train” from Pakistan spoils everything and the killings begin there also. In the changed situations, the inhabitants of Mano Majra, both Hindus and Muslims, become victims of the changed situations. They think of one another not as individuals but mere religious beings; a serious threat to their own security and religion. But in total contrast to such people, Khushwant Singh has used the character of Juggut Singh to highlight the importance of love in saving humanity and compassion. His relationship with Nooran, who is a Muslim girl, hints at the futility of the differences and enmity on the religious basis. His love for her makes him go against his own people who were trying to kill innocents. It was his love which makes him sacrifices his life for the people who consider him a criminal.
Khushwant Singh has divided the novel into four parts and it is in the fourth part named ‘Karma’, that he emphasizes the philosophy of ‘Karma’, that is, action, as described in The Bhagavad Gita. In this section, the story reaches its catastrophic dramatic end with Juggut Singh sacrificing his life to save the lives of his girlfriend Nooran and other Muslim refugees. When Nooran comes to know about her father’s decision to leave the country, she gets bewildered at it as she was in love with Juggat Singh. Juggut was in police custody at that time. She did not want to leave him but couldn’t do anything in view of the prevailing circumstance. She goes to his mother and tells her that she is pregnant with his child and does not want to leave him, but all in vain.
Towards the end of the novel, people make a plan to ambush the train taking the Muslims including those of Mano Majra to Pakistan. The Sikhs of Mano Majra who, just one day before, were ready to lay down their lives for their Muslim brothers, now at once become ready to kill them. They decide this at the instigation of the Sikh boy who excites their religious passions to retaliate to the bestiality of the Muslims. But when Juggut Singh comes to know about Nooran and the people’s plan about the train, he performs the act of supreme self-sacrifice to save the lives of people. Though there were others also who knew about the plot and wanted to fail their plan but they were unable to prevent the plot against the fleeing Muslims. Juggut Singh, on the other hand, does not care for his own safety and foils the plot to ambush the train, letting it to roll over his body to Pakistan.
Khushwant Singh has hinted at the reality in the novel that there were
people who could have done things to stop the disturbance from taking the ugly form that it eventually took. But for various reasons, such people kep them away from the trouble. They did not even try in this direction. In the novel thus, when the disturbance starts in Mano Majra, Juggut was in police custody. Along with him, there was Iqbal, educated in England and an expert in preaching Hindu-Muslim unity. Police free them from the custody hoping that both of them will help in stopping the villagers from killing the Muslims who were going to Pakistan through train. While Juggat loses his life in the effort, Iqbal, a non-communal political worker, an idealist and nationalist takes a worldly wise approach and keeps himself away from the trouble.
Juggat, in spite of knowing the possible consequences of his decision, does not change his mind. His love for Nooran appears for him to be more valuable than anything. His self sacrifice is motivated by his love for Nooran. When he learns from his mother that Nooran visited her before leaving for the refugee camp and she carries his (Jugga’s) child in her womb, he cannot bear the separation from his beloved. When the fanatics prepare to attack the train when it passes through Mano Majra railway bridge, Juggut Singh appears on the bridge and cuts the rope stretched to sweep off the people sitting on the roof when the train passes through the bridge. The leader of the gang fires shots at him and he falls down:
“There was a volley of shots. The man shivered and collapsed. The rope snapped in the centre as he fell. The train went over him, and went to Pakistan.” Thus we see that Jugga does not hesitate even for a moment while sacrificing his life for Nooran and other Muslims. He never, like Iqbal, indulges in the dilemma of morality or fruitfulness of his actions, and leaves it to Guru (God) to discriminate between the right and the wrong or good and bad acts and reward them accordingly. Juggat Singh understands the philosophy of “Granth Sahib” in real sense, which says:
For God is True and dispenseth Truth. There the elect his court adorn,
And God Himself their actions honors
When Meet Singh asks Juggut Singh the meaning of this verse, Juggut Singh explains:
“If you are going to do something good, the Guru will help you; if you are going to do something bad, the Guru will stand in your way. If you persist in doing it, he will punish you till you repent, and then forgive you.” Juggut draws strength from God to help himself in his noble pursuit which seems to be the novelist’s plea also.
Violence cannot be conquered by violence and it is only love that can pacify the hatred in human beings. Love has the power to transform a criminal like Juggut Singh into a courageous human being who sacrifices his own life for the well-being of the other people irrespective of their caste, class and religion.
2. Critically discuss the theme of Partition in Khushwant Singh’s “Train to Pakistan”.
Ans. Khuswant Singh’s Novel “Train to Pakistan” brings forth a picture of bestial horrors enacted on the Indo Pakistan border during the partition days of August 1947. It tells the tragic tale of the partition of India and Pakistan and the events that followed, which will be remembered as one of the blackest chapters of human history. Just on the eve of independence, India was partitioned causing a great upheaval in the whole continent. Independence brought in its wake one of the bloodiest carnages in the history of India, the upshot of this, was that twelve million had to flee their home nearly half a million were killed.
The harrowing and spine chilling events of 1947 had shaken the faith of the people in the innate human beings. It had driven them into a state of wonder over what man has made of man. To Khushwant Singh, this was a period of great disillusionment and crisis of values, a distressing and disintegrating period of his life. The beliefs, he had cherished all his life were shattered. Giving vent to his inner struggle and agony, he says: ‘the beliefs that I had cherished all my life were shattered. I had believed in the innate goodness of the common man but the division of India had been accompanied by the most savage massacres known in the history of the country. He says, I had believed that we Indians were peace loving and nonviolent that we were concerned with matters of the spirit while rest of the world was involved in the pursuit of material things. After the experience of autumn 1947, I become an angry middle aged man, who wanted to show his disenchantment with the world.. I decided to try my hand at writing.
The sinister and venomous impact of partition and the indignation it spawned on him has been realistically expressed in scathing attack in Train to Pakistan. Originally entitled Mano Majra. The novel potrays with bold and unrelenting realism the brutal story of political hatred and violence during the turbulent and fateful days that preceded and followed the partition of British India when spirit of communal frenzy and passionate zeal for self-expression was fanning and fumbling with the masses. Every citizen was caught up in the holocaust. No one could remain aloof; no one could be trusted to be impartial. It is true that partition touched the whole country and Singh attempt in the novel is to see events from the point of view of the people of Mano Majra, a small village which is considered to be the backdrop of this novel. As P.C.Car writes, “Singh weaves a narrative around life in this village, making the village a microcosm representing a larger world”.
Khushwant Singh recreates a tiny village in the Punjabi countryside and its people in that fateful summer, when the flood of refugees and the intercommunal bloodletting from Bengal to the North West Frontier at last touches them. Many ordinary men and women are bewildered, victimized and torn apart. The most heart – rending passage in the book is when the government makes the decision to transport all the Muslim families from Mano Majra to Pakistan. The dumbstruck villagers are overtaken by events. The Muslims leave with the barest minimum of their meager belongings within ten minutes and
the Non-Muslim neighbors do not get a chance to say Goodbye. The entire scene is painful at many levels; particularly the poverty in which these people lived, the uncertanity, they were thrown into and the eclipse of people’s humanity. Train to Pakistan is Khushwant Singh’s Supreme achievement. It is one of the finest realistic novels of Post-world war II Indo Anglian fiction. It has a well thought out structure, a well- conceived plot, an absorbing narrative and beautifully potrayed characters. It has many notable features – symbolic framework, meaningful atmosphere and a powerful way of expression and style. Khushwant Singh has accurately depicted the real picture of the adverse effects of partition and the suffering that people were made to experience. Khushwant Singh upheld his unique mirror to reflect upon the physical torture and psychological outburst that became the order of the day, when the division of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan. He paints a vivid picture of the separation between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in the summer of 1947. The novel in short potrays the issues of Independence and partition using it as a means to explore other issues which then emerge as the larger picture of the devastation and bloody birth of nations.
3. Critically discuss the historical elements in Khushwant Singh’s “Train to Pakistan”.
Ans. Khuswant Singh’s Train to Pakistan says about some of the true incidents which are regarded as the main incidents during this partition. The novel starts by portraying about a small village called Mano Majra. Khuswant never portrays the incidents of killing at the beginning of the novel, at first, Khuswant explains about the village Mano Majra where Hindus, Muslims and the Sikhs lived. He portrays in a way that the people in the village didn’t have a clue about what is happening outside the village but he adds some incidents like robbery happening within the village. The people in the village depended mainly on cattle and farming. It is said that the people in the village calculated the time according to the timing of the train. The people will go to sleep when they hear the sound of the last train and they will begin to work when they hear the sound of the first train. The incident happening in the outside world is described in a smaller picture. The author explains the cultural and political differences within the village. The author mentions some historic references inside the novel and he also adds up some true historic incidents. The drama highlights the normal things which usually happen inside the village and in a small society like trust, helping, betrayal and conflicts. Khuswant makes the readers to feel the fear and the chaos faced by the Indians and the Pakistanis. The people in the respective nations did not even care about the past or the future, all they cared but was their present time and the way to survive the chaos. The officers like Humkum Singh worried about the
uncontrollable chaos happening in the nation.
The author, discussing through Hukum Chand and the Sub Inspector, bewails the inefficiency and hopelessness of the state’s missionary in containing the violence. Systemic failure of 1729, when Mughal empire was in decay, is
compared with that of 1946 by historian Nirad C.Chaudhari and the riots followed in an usual way in India in 1729, Muhammad Shahid was emperor, he stood helplessly by the infamous Hindu Muslim riot in Delhi when even the men of the imperial artillery joined the fray. The complete ineffectiveness of the state, its inevitability to resist foreign invasion, put down internal rebellions, suppress Hindu Muslim riots, not ensure effective administration and not being successful in any of its projects made Chaudhari to apologize. Declining power of the state made one part predatory and the other panicky and adopted a habit of tolerance of anarchy and corruption and leads events resignation to them. Failed government missionary was scolded by the boy in uniform and took law onto one’s own hand. the crime by uniformed personnels is stated confidently by Pandey, quoted Mayaram’s record of an army officer’s confession, stated that when he was the ruler of alwar the state of Muslim had been decided to be cleared and killing of Hindus at noakhali and Punjab to be avenged and as the refugees from Pakistanis were coming the meos from Firozpur Jhirka down were to be cleared and send to Pakistan.
Sudden withdrawal of the anarchy reminds us of the groups those are seeking to get benefit from it. Adrian Fort clarifies that the World War II weakened the cohesiveness of British that they had over the subcontinents. Fort discusses about how the British abandoned India to impress USA with the intention to see Britain taking their troops out of India’s boundary and to leave Indians with their independence. Fort further asserts that with an increase in intention of promoting Indians brought difficulty to en roll Europeans, thus enrolment had ceased in 1939 and by 1946 there were only 500 British policemen in Indian civil service. With India’s get changing conditions 1200 men were no longer enough to manage a country with more than 1.5 million square miles containing 400 million people with 300 different ethnic groups.Prime minister Clement Atlee’s words quoted by fort reveals his opinion: that even on the reversal of policy, pledges and reassertion of UK authority by force will not lead to any solution to Indian problems, is sure that opinion in UK would not support the measures, or to shoulder the burden targeted in Indian for fifteen more years and that he has no sufficient troops to meet the needs of Indian. British is aware of undesirable communist Russia’s influence and scorns seeing Russia as India’s strategic ally and ventures of Russia is evident in the role of Iqbal in the novel.
If an incident occurred in the history is reviewed, then it is crucial to observe it in different perspectives. The viewer should be open to all the interpretations about the characters including the protagonist and the antagonist. The character Jugga ended his life as a hideous criminal. Nooran’s family strongly believed in the unity of Hindus and Muslims and so Nooran went to the house of Jugga but she was insulted by Jugga’s mother. This story’s plot revolves around the two families having a boy and a girl in each side which is separated by religion and united by love. After partition people decided to separate and had no mutual thoughts in getting united. Nooran after the partition disclosed the affair of her with Jugga to Jugga’s mother but Jugga’s
mother quotes,” Get out of Bitch, you a Muslim weaver’s daughter, marry a Sikh peasant Go to Pakistan! Leave him alone” but still she was in a dilemma because of her poverty. Khuswant presented many sentiments, compassion, family background issues and also some communalist issues. Khuswant did not start any religious issues at the start of the novel,” There are only about seventy families in Mano Majra, and Lala Ram Lal’s is the only Hindu family and the others are Sikhs or Muslims, about equal in number.
We can observe clearly that Khuswant is having an ideology of HinduMuslim-Sikh in the pair of Jugga and nooran. Nooran revealing her pregrancy was unthinkable because it is an illegitimate child of Jugga. Nooran can be seen as the Muslims who are forced to go to Pakistan leaving their property and business behind.
4. Critically discuss the post-colonial perspective in Khushwant Singh’s “Train to Pakistan”.
Ans. Post colonialism is usually referred to time period after the World War 2nd marking the end of colonialism. With the wake of postcolonial discourse, the pioneers of Post-colonialism like Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Homi Bhabha, and Gayatri Spivak among others concerned themselves with the social, cultural, moral and psychological effect of colonization on the former colonies around the world. They regarded the way in which the occident paved its means of access to the orient and the rest of the world as based on unconfounded truths. They asserted in their discourses that no culture or nation is better or worse than other culture and consequently they nullified the logic of the colonialists. In their readings of colonial and post-colonial literature and other forms of art, post-colonial critics relied heavily on other available literary theories. They manipulated various social, cultural and political theories like Marxism, New Historicism, Psychoanalysis, Post structuralism and Deconstruction to serve their purposes.
Train to Pakistan is a historical novel by Khushwant Singh, it was published in 1956, with the backdrop of Pakistan-Indian partition of 1947 that caused the displacement of twenty million people and killed over million. Instead of just narrating the partition of British India in terms of only the historical or political events surrounding it, Khushwant Singh tries to give this event multiple facets, and bring forth horrors and terrors underlying it. Situated in the postcolonial India Train to Pakistan addresses a number of issues related to post colonialism such as representation and resistance, abrogation and appropriation of language, racial issues and hybridism etc.
Train to Pakistan (1956) is a novel, set in the time period of immediate postpartition of sub-continent. It is the story of a peaceful and harmonious village name Mano Majra, located along the Pakistan-Indian border; where Muslims and Sikhs live together with peace and harmony with out being conscious of racial discrimination, till the hatred was infused in them. The story begins with a dramatic incident of dacoity that took place one peaceful night, when the village money lender Ram Lal was murdered by a neighboring village dacoit.
But as suspected murderer, two young men were taken to prisoner; Iqbal, newly arrived social worker and Jugga, a notorious young man of the village. In this novel Khushwant Singh offers resistance against British colonial rule in India. Partition was an act of get riding of colonialism, but even after the withdrawal of Britain from India, still the imprint of imperialism evident. Some people, who were benefited from British Imperialism, were contended to remain under the colonialism. But most of the population resisted against and wanted to get rid of colonialism. As Iqbal angrily asks two people; “Why people of our country do not want to be free from the evils of slavery? I am wondered why do they want to remain slaves all their lives?”
Another fruit of colonization was the class consciousness. During colonization, British colonialists exercised the power through investing power and prestige to the native elite class. The native upper class gentry, who were favored by the Britishers, looked down upon the middle or lower class. Consequently, there existed different classes among the people in the society. This hierarchy of classes was there during the colonial rule and it was also prevalent even after the end of colonial rule in India. The bourgeois and lower class gentry agitated against this class discrimination through different ways. Several postcolonial writers challenge against this class distinction and offer their resistance against this hierarchy. Khushwant Singh also resisted against this hierarchy through the contrast of two characters; Iqbal and Jugga. Iqbal is an educated social worker and Jugga is a village notorious young man. When both are arrested and brought to the police station, they got different treatment. Jugga was treated as lowly criminal given hard cement floor as bed; while Iqbal was given protocol and a chair, table and charpoy were put in his cell.
Khushwant Singh’s use of English language in the novel reveals to us his three strands of using language. First, his use of standard English narration. Second, his native language which is translated into English language. Third, code-switching or the use of phrases and idioms of native language. Khushwant Singh’s use of standard English language to narrate the story could be the reflection of his own attitude towards this language. English was introduced in the British colonial rule as a mean of imperial control. Latter on it became the medium of continuation of hierarchical power structure and used as a tool of power to cultivate a group of people who will be conscious to identify themselves with the cultural and other standards of the political elite. Along with its influential political role, English was also the language of knowledge and media.
The first strand of appropriation of language is the standard English language, which shows the writer’s mastery over the English language. The following line from the text is a good example of writer’s use of standard language; “Twilight gave way to the dark of a moonless night. In the swamps by the river, frogs croaked. Cicadas chirped in the reeds. The bearer brought out a hissing paraffin lamp which cast a bright bluish light.”
The second strand of Khushwant Singh’s use of English language is the occurrence of native language which is interestingly translated. He presents such phrases and words which are frequently used in local dialects and are
embodying the local color, and these are translated in English language in order to give the text indigenous flavor. The following lines from the novel are presented as example and are enough to justify the point; “Whatever you say is right to the sixteenth anna of the rupee.”
The third strand used by the writer is code-switching or the use of phrases from the native language. Khushwant Singh uses different words from his native tongue like Babu Sahib, Chacha, Sat Sri Akal Bhaiji, Budmash, Zulum etc. these are the words which give narration a local flavour and enrich the English language with indigenous culture and traditions. Thus, the process of appropriation of language is explicit in the novel. Khushwant Singh uses different strands of English language in order to narrate the story. It has the local color as well as the standard pattern, it might be appear strange to native English speaker.
- 5. Critically discuss the Conflict of Culture and Ethnic Violence in Khushwant Singh’s “Train to Pakistan”.
Ans. The main purpose of the novel Train to Pakistan is to study the structure of violence and to show how it can grip even most friendly of societies. The novelist shows that if communalism can dent into the relations in a society like Mano Majra then it can trouble any society and no relation is too strong for it. The message in the novel is loud and clear: “do not let suspicion enter your minds, do not let any rumour trouble you”. Even a society like Mano Majra which seems to be insulated from envy, hatred, and communalism is debilitated by rumours. It took three steps to sabotage the relations in Mano Majra. There are societies where men can fall prey to it in one step and there will be no Jugga to avert the tragedy – communalism affects not only one generation directly, but indirectly it affects the whole posterity.
In this well-contrived plot of journey Kushwant Singh shows how partition took place and the situation at the end turn out to be different from the one at the beginning of the novel Train to Pakistan. The title itself is suggestive of journey. In the first part of the novel, people travel smoothly, slowly and safely from Delhi, via Mano Majra to Lahore and vice versa. In the later part, quick and disturbed journey is depicted. Hindus and Sikhs who travel from Pakistan to India, travel for the last time. On the contrary, Muslims who are sent to Pakistan from India are sent alive because of the sacrifices of people like Jugga. So one can notice the element of romance in this apparently realistic plot. The budmash Jugga loves Nooran and stern Hukum Chand has soft corner for the young prostitute Haseena. This tenderness prompts him to order the sub-inspector to free Jugga from the jail. The reader can get the glimpses of a higher reality and a deeper psychology because of this romance. It leads the reader to the inner structure of psychological, social or philosophical theory of why men behave as they do. This motivation increases the illusion of reality. Mano Majra is the setting for almost all the incidents of the novel. The novel covers the time span of a few months from the summer of 1947 to
September of the same year. During this period, the people of the whole village
pass, from the state of happiness and steadiness to that of bitterness, disturbances, insecurity and uncertainity.
Train to Pakistan is ahead of realism. It has new concepts of reality and is innately realistic. All the four parts of the novel-Dacoity, Kalyug, Mano Majra and Karma have realistic narrative. The plot and its narratives show architectural design. The first part gives us a true to life description of an actual robbery. The inhuman and cruel actions of a robber like Malli and his gang is beyond imagination. The description shows that humanity itself has been robbed of and the world has been looted of its human values. This dacoity is an indicator to the expression of internal de privation.
The second part covers an inwardly felt experience. The narrative in this part is based on the Hindu concept of religion and theology. Kali is the spirit of strife and she presides over the destines of men in Kaliyug. The novelist has made it realistic in accordance with religious and theological concept of the Hindus.
The third part relates to Mano Majro which is a small rural world of Sikhs and Muslims. They are living together in peace for generations, but it is now a changed place due to India-Pakistan division or Sikh-Muslim conflict. The river in Mano Majro is carrying corpses and carcasses. The village has always been known for its railway station and the trains guide the schedule of this sleepy village. Trains serves as a dual symbol in the novel. “It symbolizes life and action as it guides all the activities of the villagers in Mano Majra. But it also stands for death and disaster.” The man is the victim of its own destruction. Even in this exceptionally changed situation the narrative does not falter and the realistic mode of narration gives us exact portraiture of fear, distrust, union and love of both the communities.
The fourth part has two implications in the context of narration. It can mean fate or wheels of destiny. It can also imply in the total action of man in cycles of his existence. The realistic mode of presentation gives true picture of our Hindu view of life. It extends its ambit to seek a rapport with our experience and tells us to plan out our future course of action.
Train to Pakistan for all its obvious fascination with sex, violence and horror is tour-de-force of imaginative story telling. It is profoundly a moving and moral work. It is perhaps one of the most telling refutations of certain types of pacifism, lure of violence and paradox of heroism. Thus, it is a great novel of partition and its tone reflects much of the cynicism and fear generated as the result of the communal massacres of 1947.
In Train to Pakistan communalism may be the stepping stone and HinduMuslim feeling is the focal point. Sikhism is absolutely hostile to Muslim. There is frequent reference to antagonism between Sikhs and Muslims. Both the communities of Sikhs and Muslims go on looting, thieving, robbing and murdering each other. Both the races are at daggers drawn.
In short, it can be said that Train to Pakistan is based upon conflict of cultures and ethnic violence. The entire story is woven round the communal riot between Hindus (including Sikhs) and Muslims. The novelist has
elaborately discussed the difference in the concepts of religion in general and Sikh, Muslim, Hinduistic belief and Christianity in particular. Basically the story is developed on the communal clash between Sikh and Muslim in the wake of partition. The novelist shows the passing pictures of dividing India and its effect in grim reality. Setting all these cultural conflicts and ethnic violence as glaring examples of devastating mankind and the world, Khushwant Singh Kh. Kunjo Singh – Conflict of Cultures and Ethnic Violence in Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan probably wants to suggest eradication of such evil things at the cost of love and understanding within humanity.
- 6. Discuss the character of Juggut Singh in Khushwant Singh’s “Train to Pakistan”.
Ans. Juggut Singh a.k.a. Jugga is presented by the novelist in a dramatic way. We first hear his name from the members of Malli’s gang. They shout his name while passing by his house after committing dacoity and murder of Lala Ram Lal. One member of the gang throws a packet of bangles in his house saying “Wear these bangles, Juggia, wear these bangles and put henna on your palms.” Jugga had refused to be party in the crime for his own reasons, but the foolish dacoits take him for a coward. When the dacoits call him, they do not get any answer, because he is not at home. This incident gives the wrong impression that the dacoits had no fear of him. The novelist informs the readers that he had left his house on the pretext that he was going, as he told his mother, to protect his crop from the pigs.
The readers only hear his name from the dacoits, therefore, become curious to know more about him. Then, they see him trying to slip out of the house, with shoes in his hand, but on being seen by his mother he has to give an explanation to his mother obviously because his mother would not let him go out at the odd hours. The readers learn it from her mother that Jugga is on probation and forbidden by the court to go out of the village at night. Thus, information about him is given in piece meal to keep the readers curious to know more about him.
In fact Juggut Singh had gone to the rendezvous to meet his beloved. During his love-making he hears the shots and soon after sees Malli and his gang going down towards the river. Juggut Singh has to go to his house lest anybody should find him missing and cast doubt on him. These facts, if coordinated, give an image of Jugga or Juggia.
Police arrests him when it comes to know that Jugga was not at home when dacoity was committed, because they thought that either Jugga was also an accomplice in the crime or he knows about the dacoits. Jugga’s feet are put in fetters and wrists in handcuffs. Jugga’s mother weeps and wails gives cogent arguments to prove that Jugga has no hand in the dacoity, but all in vain.
Jugga is forced under the threats of third degree measures to disclose the names of the dacoits. He is subjected to tortures by the police on previous occasions. Therefore, he tells the police that the dacoity was committed by
Malli’s gang. Jugga is otherwise a courageous and fearful dacoit, but he is like a lion in a cage while in police custody. Though Jugga tells the names of the real culprits, he is not released.
Jugga has become a psychopath. He is a dacoit’s son. His father Alam Singh was convicted in a dacoity case and hanged. He was not educated. Juggat Singh’s mother had to mortgage her land to find money to contest her husband’s case. Juggut Singh redeemed the land within one year, but no one knows where he got the money from. It is evident that he collected the money by unfair means. He is arrested at the end of the year and his name is entered in Register No. 10 along with those of other bad characters. Jugga, being uneducated, and without knowledge of any trade, has no option but to involve himself in crimes. He admits,
“I am always wanting to do something. When there is ploughing to be done or harvest to be gathered, then I am busy. When there is no work, my hands still itch to do something. So I do something, and it is always wrong.” Jugga knows it well that what he is doing is wrong, but he can’t check himself from doing it. It is a simple case of a psychopath. And the reason for his being that is his being the son of a dacoit, sentenced to be hanged. It is a them at home.
general rule that the children learn what their parents teach opportunity to mend
Jugga is a specimen of those who are not allowed themselves. Juggut Singh is arrested for no major offence-he had gone out of the village in violation of the court order, but a humane officer could let him off with a warning, particularly when he was not likely to join in a dacoity in his own village. Had he been with the dacoits, he would have been easily recognized by his enormous size. If the police had taken these evidences in view, Jugga too could act reasonably. His arrest even for not doing the crime fills him with anger. When Malli’s gang is arrested, Jugga has the hope that he would be released, but the police has a sadistic pleasure in keeping him under custody. Of course, he can’t do anything to the police force, but when he gets the opportunity he smashes Malli’s head and sends him crying like a child. If Jugga had been out of the lock-up he would have even killed him. It is no justice to arrest a man for an offence he has not committed. To odd insult to injury, Malli’s gang is set free. When Jugga is released he is informed that Malli and his men are there in Mano Majra. Jugga says with great confidence,
“He (Malli) will run like a jackal when he hears my name……….. If I do not spit in Malli’s mouth, my name is not Juggat Singh.”
Juggut Singh is great lover of Nooran. On being released, “Jugga’s immediate concern is the fate of Nooran. He does not look at his companions in the tonga or at the village. He has forgotten Malli. At the back of his mind persist the feeling that Nooran will be in Mano Majra as no one had desired Imam Baksh to go. Even if he has left with the other Muslims, Nooran must be hiding in the fields, or have come to his mother.” He is so much worried to know about his beloved that he jumps off the tonga when it reaches near the Sikh temple and disappears.
Juggut Singh comes to know about the plan of the Sikh youths of attacking the train which is to take Muslims of Mano Majra to Pakistan. Jugga is a passionate lover-he cannot allow his beloved, no matter that she is a Muslim, to be mowed. He stands alone against the host of attackers to save his beloved. As the train comes nearer, a man starts climbing up the steel span. It is none but Jugga himself. He reaches the top where the rope is tied. The attackers think that he is testing the knot to make sure that everything goes according to the plan.
The train comes very close but he is still stretched on the rope. He takes out a Kripan out of his waist and begins to cut the rope. When the attackers come to see what he is doing, the leader of the Sikh attackers fired a volley of shots at him. Jugga’s body slides off the rope, but he catches the rope under his armpit and hacks it with his right hand. He succeeds in cutting off the rope before he falls down with his body sprinkled all over with bullets. “The train went over him, and went on to Pakistan,” safely, with his beloved.
Jugga is a badmash (criminal) in everyone’s eyes but nobody has seen a lover’s heart that is pulsating in his chest all the while. Jugga sacrifices his life for the life of Nooran.
- 7. Critically discuss the portrayal of satirical characters in Khushwant Singh’s “Train to Pakistan”.
Ans. Singh’s first work of fiction Train to Pakistan concentrates on two important themes. It deals with the village Mano Majra and the events which describe the partition of India into India and Pakistan; and its effects on the village situated in the Punjab. Mano Majra is the protagonist of the story and no other character is given such importance as the village. The plot of the novel begins and closes at Mano Majra the centre of the novel. Singh also includes a love story in the novel. There is love affair between Jugga a Sikh dacoit and a protagonist of the novel and Nooran a Muslim girl of the village, the daughter of Imam Baksh, the Mullah of Mano Majra. The love theme and the theme of partition work as metaphors with reference to each other. In the climax of the novel there is a triumph of love as Jugga sacrifices his own life to save his lover Nooran who is among the hundreds of Muslims evacuated and who are travelling by train from India to Pakistan.
There are three important characters in the novel through whom Singh lampoons the individuals in particular and bureaucrats, priests and social workers in general.
First of all there is a character called, Hukum Chand, the Magistrate and Deputy Commissioner of the District, who is a corrupt administrator and a typical bureaucrat. Hukum Chand as a Magistrate has to protect the rights and the moral and human values; but he indulges in crooked and wicked activities. He hires Haseena, a sixteen year old girl, a prostitute who is just as old as his daughter to meet his sensual pleasures. Singh also ironically laughs at the elite class of administrators and protectors of justice who use their power and strength for doing all kinds of immoral activities in the disguise of power. There is humour and irony when Meet Singh says a few words about Hukum
Chand to Iqbal:
“Hukum Chand is a nar admi. He started as a foot constable and see where he is now! He always kept the sahibs pleased and they gave him one promotion after another. The last one gave him his own place and made him deputy. Yes, Iqbal Singh Hukum Chand is a nar admi- and clever. He is true to his friends always gets things done for them. He has had dozens of relatives given good jobs. He is one of the hundred. Nothing counterfeit about Hukum Chand.”
However, in the final parts of the novel the reader sees him to be a changed man in his attitude towards Muslims and particularly Hassena, a sixteen year old prostitute. He releases Jugga, the protagonist hero from jail and shows his humanistic behaviour in saving hundreds of Muslims.
The second character through whom Singh laughs at the educated, westernized and sophisticated Indians is Iqbal who is a social worker deputed by his party (People’s Party) to look after the things and bring awareness among the masses of Mano Majra. Iqbal’s sophisticated accent, fastidious style, air mattress, a dressing gown, a tin of sardines and bottle of whisky all show his Babu traits or westernized qualities. His name also is ambivalent: “He could be Muslim, Iqbal Mohammed. He could be a Hindu, Iqbal Chand, or a Sikh, Iqbal Singh.” Iqbal is a social worker who comes to Mano Majra after the murder of Lala Ram Lal, a money lender of the village Mano Majra. Police now that he has come after the murder. But in spite of that the police put him behind the bars and in the process of investigation they strip him to know whether he is Muslim. These kinds of attitude of the police show the mockery of the working of the police and administration of India.
Iqbal is a communist. Communism speaks about the equality of people and it tells people to work for the sufferings of the poor and needy. But in this particular novel Train to Pakistan Iqbal fails to help the needy and the persecuted, and his studies on Communism remain theoretical instead of being used as practical experience. He has the desire to become a great political leader but he is not willing to bear any kind of trouble.
Iqbal is a socialist. He has come to the village Mano Majra to unite the people and save them from bloodshed and other troubles. When he comes to know about the plan of the fundamentalist Sikhs to blast the train carrying Muslims from Hindu India, he fails to do anything and leaves them to their fate by his usual habit of drinking and falling asleep.
The ultimate satire in Train to Pakistan is that, Jugga, the third and the most important character and the protagonist of the novel who is notorious and known to be a ‘budmash number ten’ (Dus Numberi) and a dacoit, saves the Muslims from tragedy by sacrificing his own life for the sake of his beloved Nooran. It is not Hukum Chand, or the Deputy Commissioner, nor Iqbal the socialist, nor the religious priest Meet Singh but the so called “budmash” and criminal Jugga who stands up in the time of trouble and saves hundreds of Muslims from death.
Thus, through the characters of Hukum Chand, Iqbal and Juggua Khushwant Singh makes satirical and ironical attack at the corrupt, foolish,
cowardly, incapable, and hypocritical and sex hungry attitudes of those who hide their vicious behaviour under the disguise of spirituality, and virtuousness with the help of their access to power, and money.
- 8. Critically discuss the village Mano Majra as the protagonist in Khushwant Singh’s “Train to Pakistan”.
Ans. The term ‘Protagonist’ comes from the Greek words: ‘Protos’ (first) and ‘Agonistes’ (actor). The protagonist is the first or the leading character in a work. The protagonist is the centre of concern of other characters and thereby shapes and influences the lives of other characters.
Train to Pakistan deals with the response of the characters to the new situation created during the fateful days of Partition. In the process, quite a few characters, agents and forces appear to be protagonists. Here is a list of such agents:
- Hukum Chand
- Juggut Singh
While discussing the village as a protagonist in the novel, we can say that the communities form an inseparable part of the village and all characters are unmistakably governed by the culture of and love for their village. And it is village that dominates the entire action of the novel. V. A.Shahane remarks,
“Mano Majra is the principal protagonist in this drama of agonizing death and pulsating life. The village is more important than the role of any single character in the novel… It is the major character in the book”.
There is an inseparable relation between the village and its people. The bond is so strong that they cannot even think of separation. Mano Majra, the fictional village on the border of Pakistan and India, is predominantly Muslim and Sikh. The Sikhs and the Muslims are so entrenched in the village that they have nothing to do with the political developments. Imam Baksh says:
“What have we to do with Pakistan? We were born here and so were our ancestors. We have lived amongst you as brothers.”
Mano Majra is famous for its railway station. All the activities here are linked to the arrival and departure of trains. All people live in perfect harmony, completely unaffected by the tumultuous event of Partition. The villagers are artless and honest. They all pray to a sand stone in times of crisis, irrespective of their religion and community:
“there is one object that all Mano Majrans even Lala Ram Lal– venerate. This is a three foot slab of sandstone thatstands upright under a keeker tree beside the pond. It is the local deity, the deo to which all the villagers–Hindu, Sikh, Muslims or pseudo-christian-repair secretely whenever they are in special need of blessing.”
This situation starts deteriorating when the news of communal violence
in Bengal and Punjab arrive. The riots spread all over India and mass migration started. The peace is finally shattered with the murder of Ram Lal, the local money-lender. Then come the massacres that led to train loads of corpses being carried across the border. These trains passing through Mano Majra create an environment of shock and disbelief in the straight-forward village folk. A deathly silence spreads in the village and the mutual trust between the communities starts fading and a feeling of revenge takes its place. Tension starts mounting and it seems inevitable to send away the Muslims to Pakistan to save them. The events
“had divided Mano Majra into two halves as neatly as a knife cuts through a pat of butter.”
When the Muslims are compelled by the administration to leave the village, they are completely non-plussed at the unprecedented developments and it comes as a shock to them as they would have to leave their home. The night of separation is described thus:
“Not many people slept in Mano Majra that night. They went from house to house, talking, crying, swearing love and friendship, assuring each other that this would soon be over.”
The novelist resolves the conflict through the Punjabi culture and its code of conduct as witnessed in Jugga. Among its codes, the most significant one is that of love. What he understands is his uninhibited Punjabi love which is the brightest and most durable patch on the tattered clothes of humanity.
The village becomes a microcosm of the vivisected sub-continent, caught in the whirlpool of one of the cruellest, meanest and bloodiest events in the history of mankind. It also offers the solution to violence and hatred. It is the guiding and motivating force for actions of characters and their reactions too. Thus, it can rightly be pronounced as the protagonist of the novel.
- 9. Comment on the title of Khushwant Singh’s narrative Train to Pakistan.
Ans. Khushwant Singh has chosen a fictional hamlet named Mano Majra in Punjab nearby border of India and Pakistan as setting of this novel. It is a simple small village like any other and showcases just three brick buildings and rest around seventy are mud huts with flat roofs scattered on the sides of the narrow lanes connected to surrounding fields. Apart from atypical village milieu,”ManoMajra has always been known for its railway station.” This is something which provides its uniqueness, because normallyrickshaws, bullock carts and buses are seen as a means of transportation in rural areas but trains in this village hint towardsdevelopment or technological advancement of a nation as a whole.
In Train to Pakistan, trains playa pivotal role in scheduling social as well as domestic lives of the villagers. Moreover, trains assist in the smooth running of the tale by bringing into spotlightmajor and minor occurrences. Though limited number of trains stop at Mano Majra yet arrival and departure of those a few trains announces hours for specific activities.Khushwant Singh says:
“”Not many trains stop at Mano Majra. Express trains do not stop at all Of the many slow passenger trains, only two, one from Delhi to Lahore in the mornings and the other from Lahore to Delhi in the evenings, are scheduled to stop for a few minutes. The others stop only when they are held up. The only regular customers are the goods trains.”
Singh has very intelligently created Mano Majraas a train-conscious region. Where dawn is reported with the whistling of the train. He says: “Before daybreak, the mail train rushes through on its way to Lahore, and as it approaches the bridge, the driver invariably blows two long blasts on the whistle. In an instant, all Mano Majra comes awake.”
Apart from being a guiding force, coming and going of trains in the village Mano Majra casts light on the chain of importantevents happening in the novel. The very first incident that ignites the spark of communal violence is the murder of moneylenderLala Ram Lal by dacoits. Dacoits come to the village to loot Lala and wait for the right moment to execute their plan. And as soon as thegoods train seems to be approaching one
“Listen, there is the goods train.”
And leader of the dacoits declares:
“It is time to call on Ram Lal.”
of them says:
It shows that on the brighter side trains are a source of convenience but on the darker side ring alarm for malicious actions.
The other important scene which occurs at the moment of dacoity, is between gangster Juggut Singh, son of dacoit Alam Singh and Muslim girl Nooran, daughter ofmullah of the mosque Imam Baksh. It’s a love-making scene which moves parallel to the movements of the train. Following lines emphasize presence of goods train in the incidents of that black night.:
“Juggut Singh had been gone from his home about an hour. He had only left
when the sound of the night goods train told him that it would now be safe to go. For him, as for the dacoits, the arrival of the train that night was a signal.” At the very moment of the appearance of the goods trainJuggut starts from home to meet Nooran. And after some time, trains’ exit whistling, groaning, creaking and puffing marks the intensified passion between lovers and its departure leaves private me for them. In the lines quoted below, such privacy with the departure of the goods train is highlighted in one more scene at the same moment but that is between Magistrate and deputy commissioner of the districtHukum Chand and a young singer girl Haseena.
As, ‘The riots had become rout.’19So, the passenger trains coming from and going to the Pakistan depict massacre, bloodshed, violence, horror, dead bodiesand various other gruesome acts. About harrowing incidentsoccurring with trains magistrate Hukum Chand reveals:
‘Do you know,’… ‘the Sikhs retaliated by attacking a Muslim refugee train and sending it across the border with over a thousand corpses? They wrote on the engine “Gift to Pakistan!”””
Pre-partition period’s well-timed trains indicating progress, activity, company, expectations, journeying into new relationships start to get delayed due to horrendous happenings on both sides of the border.
Irregularity and procrastination of trains gesture towardsdisturbances, inactivity, lack of trust, and indiscipline. And Odd hours give feeling of something uncanny, something unusual with the trains.
“One morning, a train from Pakistan halted at Mano Majra railway station. At first glance, it had the look of the trains in the days of peace. No one sat on the roof. No one clung between the bogies. No one was balanced on the footboards. But somehow it was different. There was something uneasy about it. It had a ghostly quality.”
Train with approximately fifteen hundred dead bodies halts at Mano Majra railway station. Magistrate Hukum Chand, who goes to inspect the train, describes panoramic succession of darker and redder voiceless, terror struck images, like a man grasping his ownintestines, women and children with dread dilated eyes, toilets jammed with young men’s corpses and most vividly image of the old peasant in the broad day light. This heart-rendingscene was unbearable for Hukum Chand.
Just at the thought of second ghost train hearts pounded hardly. It was like a haunted place where no one was alive, where humans were scared to step in. Such were the trains which were coming to Mano Majra after witnessing cruel, inhuman and dirty face of humanity. Riots filled revenge type feelings in the hearts of the people. This vengeance turned humble humans into blood sucking monsters and ultimately led to a plan made to kill Muslims on the train going from India to Pakistan.A Sikh boy in his teens with boiling blood comes to the village and provokes people by saying:
“Tomorrow a train load of Muslims is to cross the bridge to Pakistan. If you are men, this train should carry as many people dead to the other side as you have received.”
And ultimately the most horrid incident of the novel happens which separates two lovers Nooran and Juggut Singh foreveras Juggat Singh dies while saving train going to Pakistan in which Nooran was travelling. “The train got closer and closer. …
The engine was almost on him. There was a volley of shots. The man shivered and collapsed. The rope snapped in the centre as he fell. The train went over him, and went to Pakistan.”
With these lines, novel ends on a tragic note with sacrifice of a true lover as well as with a sigh of relief, as train takes passengers to Pakistan safely from this scene but nobody knows their fortune further. Secure departure of train with the help of Juggut depicts very gracefully power of real love.
Since onset till closing presence of trains with audio visual effects remains dominantin the progress of the story. Most frightfully, trains becometestament of terrible times, testament of a vale of bloody tears of which partition is the halo. Thus the title of the novel is apprapriate.
- 10. Analyse the role of women in Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan.
Ans. A critic has pointed that Singh portrays patriarchal representation, victimization of the partition violence, misses women characters in his ‘Train to Pakistan’. Women in this novel are engaged in routine menial domestic work, victimized, less important, silent, submissive and co existed.
The patriarchy expresses through family structure as an individual man holds power through the institution of fatherhood. The ‘symbolic power’ of fathers present as the essence of patriarchy within culture and unconscious. The foundations of patriarchy are as specific to the father-daughter relationship and complexities between power and gender. Khushwant Singh presents patriarchal family head, hold, power and relations in ‘Train to Pakistan’. The man, Lala Ram is the head of Hindu family carries all kind of powers and hold. The women informed to the dacoits:
‘I tell you Lalaji is not in. He has taken the keys with them. We have nothing in the house.”
Women in ‘Train to Pakistan’ are more passive, obedient and dependant for all kind of activities. Prestigious and responsible works i.e. Mullah, Sikh Priest, Train driver, farming, magistrate, subinspector, etc are assigned to men in Mano Majra. Whereas, women are busy in the passive and domestic unpaid works like cooking, cleaning, washing, rubbing, etc. Religious power is centred with men like Imam Baksh is mullah and Meet Singh is Sikh Priest. Khushwant Singh presented as:
‘Women rub clarified butter into each other’s hair, pick lice from their
children’s heads, and discuss births, marriages and deaths.’ Women in Mano Majra works for unpaid like pick lice from children’s heads. But they are very cooperative in nature expressed through rubbing clarified butter into each other’s hair. They discussing about their emotional issues like births, marriages and deaths. The qualities are inculcated right from the childhood. The girls are plays under the trees at safer side as compare to the boys. The boys are grazing cattle and plays adventurous games like ride on buffaloes into the pond. Men do not only active, productive and responsible work but also dacoit and violence.
Women in ‘Train to Pakistan’ are discriminated based on race, colour, religion and occupation. Mohammad and Purohit have noted that the Muslim women in this novel are presented weak, inferior, exploited and dependent. Purohit depicted that Hindu women in this novel are presented as pure whereas Muslim women are exploited and victimized. Indian men attract more towards white women than the black. Juggut Singh discriminate women based on colour and race:
‘Wah, Babuji The memsahibs are like houris from paradise – white and soft, like silk. All we have here are black buffaloes.
Juggut Singh has an affair with a Muslim girl, Nooran. She inform to his mother about Juggut’s promise.
‘I can’t leave. Jugga
has promised to marry me.’
Jugga’s mother immediately replied:
‘Get out, you bitch! ‘You a Muslim weaver’s daughter, marry a Sikh peasant!….’ ……
Here, Jugga’s mother not accepts Nooran as she is from Muslim weaver family. The weavers are not equally treated to the peasants. Further, when
Nooran informed his mother about her pregnancy from Juggut, mother changed her approach as a woman. She let Nooran’s head drop back on her feet, helped her to up and the both sat on charpai. However, Jugga’s mother is helpless and asked her ‘I cannot keep you here’. The mother sat on charpai staring into the dark for several hours.
Women are considered as things not only to use but also for insult, revenge, etc. Army officer listed women with property and goods as land, house, etc. However, stress on women is more highlighted in the descriptions. Women abuse is not only taken as the tool to suppress the society but also the revenge.
Thus, women in Mano Majra are projected in a are more passive, obedient and dependant for all kind of activities and busy in domestic unpaid works like cooking, cleaning, washing, rubbing, etc. They discussing about their emotional issues like births, marriages and deaths. These qualities are inculcated in girls from the early childhood through their play, customs, traditions, etc. The girls play safe game under the trees.
sense of patriarchy. They
Man-woman relations are unequal, exploited and make women weak, dependent and submissive. Men use nominal things like bangles, ear-rings, bracelets, etc. to please women. Whereas, women are give their own body to men in barter. There is not only discrimination between men-women but also within the women based on religion, colour and occupation. Bureaucrats also exploit the women in their power.
Women weaknesses and victims are presented with glorious manner in the name of nobility. The focal theme of the novel is partition and communal violence. Influencing characters in the novel use noble symbol, women purity for propagation of communal violence. Women and girls are victimised for revenge in communal violence. The rumours contain information of spoiled mothers, sisters and daughters. In all these situations of violence promoted and maintained by men and women are remain silent. Women follow the men.
- Comment on the way nature functions as a backdrop to Khushwant Singh’s novel Train to Pakistan.
Ans. In Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan, nature is, in fact, a spokesperson of human life. At the beginning of the novel, it appears that at the small fictional village Mano Majra, nature and human life are in regular orders: with the arrival of the mail train, the whole village gets up; mullah at the mosque calls the pious Muslims to prayer, the Sikh priest chants his prayer song, men start working in the field, and women do their household chores, and children take care of the cattle. During midday the villagers have their rest under the peepul tree, boys swim in the pond and ride the buffaloes, girls have fun through playing, women gossip on several issues like birth, marriage and death. In the evening people start working again, they drive their cattle to home for milking, women prepare meal for the family. After that, the families together have their supper. The mullah utters azan, the Sikh priest performs prayer. One can observe the same cyclic rhythm in the surrounding nature. In the morning the sparrows wing over the roofs, bats stop murmuring, and pye-dogs search for shade. At night crows caw from the trees. It seems that both nature and human life are in a perfect tune. However, the question is, during the massive death, destruction, and plunder of 1947; does this harmonious atmosphere ex ist in human life and nature as well? Khushwant Singh tries to answer the question: “it had always been so, until the summer of 1947.”
Actually, “Inlature is metaphysically ultimate, that is, there is nothing outside, beyond, or behind it” and it connects itself with human life by “complex networks of interrelation and interdependence.”. In this novel, one can observe that almost all significant events have strong attachment to nature. The love making between Nooran, the daughter of the Imam of the mosque and Juggu Singh, the village gangster, happens in the lap of nature. Though Noooran mildly protests Juggut Singh, it is a willful relation: “[s]he did not particularly want to protest. Their relationship is peaceful and nature suits with them by its cheerful appearance.
Besides, the association between Juggut and Nooran”s affair, nature can further be explored by queer ecology because “there is an ongoing relationship between sex and nature that exists institutionally, discursively, scientifically, spatially, politically, poetically, and ethically”. Juggut belongs to the Sikh com munity and Nooran is a Muslim girl. Their relationship is not granted in a typical religion conscious society and so, in Juggut”s absence when she seeks shelter to his mother, the mother denies. It appears that their relationship reaches its zenith and gets consummation in a landscape, alongside the river, surrounded by trees and stars in the sky. Amidst nature they are free to explore their desires as if the virility of the landscape confirmed Juggut”s masculinity. The madness of their passion gets expression in the exhilaration of nature with the rhythmic sound of Nooran’s breathing and “the warm smell of dusty skins … [t]he stars above her went into mad whirl and then came back to their places like a merry-go-round slowly coming to a stop”.
The indissoluble bond of nature and human life can be traced in the second portion of the novel titled “Kalyug”. At the very beginning the narrator enunciates: “[e]arly in September the time schedule in Mano Majra started going wrong”. In the Indian subcontinent September is a month of irregular weather, there may be low rainfall or high rainfall or thunderstorm. Sometimes dews drop at night. The same inconsistency is noted in the villagers” lives. Trains, the clock- work of the villagers” daily life, do not come on time. This lack of punctuality disrupts the habitual life. Both Imam Baksh and Meet Singh do not realize what is the time now, when to call people to prayer. People wake up late “without realizing that times had changed and the mail train might not run through at all”. The situation is so worse that children do not know when to be hungry and cry for food. Before the sunset everyone comes to house Goods trains do not come to “lull them to slumber” instead ghost train go “past at odd hours between midnight and dawn, disturbing the dreams of Mano Majra.”
Nature counteracts when a ghost train, full of dead bodies of Hindus, arrives from Pakistan. All day long the villagers of Mano Majra suspiciously wait to know what the train has carried from Pakistan: they stand on the roofs
to see what is going on at the rail station, women forget to cook food, hungry children clamor for food yet women do not light the hearths, and men do not milk their cattle. But they do not know anything until nature unleashes the hideous deed for them. At night Sikh soldiers cunningly burn the dead bodies to conceal the brutal killing, violence, rape, and destruction from the villagers. Nature, however, reveals the truth:
“A soft breeze began to blow towards the village. It bought the smell of burning kerosene, then wood. And then – a faint acrid smell of searing flesh. The village was stilled in a deathly silence. No one asked anyone what the odour was. They all knew. They had known it all the time.”
Nature also revolts against the gruesome endeavour of wiping out traumatic history of partition by rain that extinguishes the fire and exposes “[a]hundred yards of charred corpses”. Afterwards, an excessive rain mourns for the evacuation of the Muslims from the village, Mano Majra.
The villagers cannot endure the tumultuous situation any longer and earnestly wishes that, the river would “rise more and drown the whole of Mano Marja along with them, their women, children, and cattle -provided it also drowned Malli, his gang, his refugees, and soldiers”. Nature responses to this urge and the water level of the river rises and the stream becomes “a menacing and tumultuous spread of muddy down”. Within two days the Sutlej turns into “terrifying sight”. It seems that the river is revolting against all inhumanity. The river yields thousands of carcasses of men, women, children, bulls, horses. From the side of the river the villagers hear human voices pleading for helps. The river water rises further. The river carrying thousands of dead bodies tells the insurmountable woes of partition: “some were without limbs, some had their bellies torn open, many women’s breasts were slashed. They floated down the sunlit river, bobbing up and down. Overhead hung the kites and vultures.”
Nature also foretells the death of Juggut whose selfless sacrifice rescues hundreds of innocent lives vulnerable to plan of massacre and ensures the triumph of humanity. Before his death it becomes gloomy: “the moon came up. It looked tired and dissipated. It flooded the plain with a pale light in which everything was a little blurred… The river did not glisten; it was like a sheet of slate with just a suspicion of a ripple here and there”. It, by its dismal appearance, mourns for the upcoming demise of Juggut.
Actually, throughout the novel, nature and the villagers of Mano Majra strongly reciprocate and complete one another. Nature in variegated levels merges with the lives of the villagers: it harmonizes and directly affects their feelings, expectations and activities by mourning for their sufferings and reacting to the viciousness, brutality and inhumanity of partition exposing its terrible side. Moreover, it co-exists with masculine virility and feminine innocence. Considering all the associations between the abovementioned two it can be said that, in this novel nature and human life go hand in hand.
- *****B.D 9476138533******
- READ MORE….
- Revolving Days Questions and Answers
- England England Summary by Julian Barnes
- Ode on Intimations of Immortality Questions and Answers