Monday, April 20, 2009

Partitions by Kamleshwar, translated by Ameena Kazi Ansarm, reviewed by Anupa Shetti

Kamleshwar's 'Kitne Pakistan', translated by Ameena Kazi Ansari as 'Partitions', is a cry for humanism over communalism, peace over war-mongering, culture over mere religion. The book jumps through times and regions as it runs through history to locate the beginnings of the creation of Pakistan - Pakistan being a metaphor for the division of people.

The author calls forth personalities from history, in fact, he questions history itself, as he seeks to find the seeds of communalism. In a court that transcends time and space, with a adeeb or litterateur as judge, the author summons scheming gods from various pantheons, political leaders, historical figures, emperors, and fanatics to demand reasons for the fracturing of nations, divisions of people, and creation of hatred and mistrust, in regions ranging from Kosovo to Kashmir, Sri Lanka to South Africa.

'Partitions' is more like a painting than a novel, as the author makes angry, broad strokes with his brush as he grapples with history, with drops of paint flying across the paper and landing on various historical figures, who must answer for their role in the creation of Pakistan. The novel also serves as a lesson in history, as it digs beneath the history that we have learnt from textbooks in schools to lay open the sinister realities of the respective times.

'Partitions' is a must-read for every Indian, for those have never felt the turmoil of dislocation and uprootment from one's home, and preach the superiority of one religion over another, and for those who look on as religious zealots sow seeds of distrust, and feel they are helpless to do anything.

The book will never lose its relevance as long as there remain dividing forces in the world, driving wedges between people, when all they want to do is go on with their lives without bothering about the next person's religion or faith.


  1. Interesting review - thought provoking and well written.

  2. "Partitions" comes across a serious read. Insightful review, but neither painting nor religion have fascinated me. May give this book a skip.