Friday, December 30, 2011

The Pain of Partition: K.K. Khullar's Yellow Rose

"I thought it was time to spin the story, weave the tale. The result is Yellow Rose and 19 other roses of different colours titled differently."

I had enjoyed reading K.K. Khullar's biography of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, so when I saw a book of short stories written by him, I picked it up with great expectations. The expectations were not really met by the volume which contains a total of 20 stories besides a brief history of the short story and why the present writer felt the need to pen these stories. The stories can be divided broadly into two categories: One dealing with the bureaucratic set-up in India with all the accompanying frustration and red-tapism; the other, based on personal reminiscences and dealing with life in Pre-partitioned and Newly-partitioned Punjab. The second set is far more interesting and at times extremely heart-wrenching, as in this story where the narrator's grandmother asks a man to look after the sparrows that she used to feed at her village before partition forced her to migrate to this side of the border:

"If you visit Duska": She told an official connected with the recovery of abducted women : "Bring back all my girls: Sita, Savitri, Sheila, Sushma, Sohini... they are all brahmins: chaste, virgins, gentle, humble: gentle as cows: pure as the Ganges: bring all of them back. There is nobody to look after them. they must be waiting for me to give food to them: they must all be thirsty, hungry, forlorn. I know Sumitra gets sick if she drank the dirty pond water, Sneh likes nuts" [The Mourners 14-21]

These lines well encapsulate the pain of our grandparents' generation. If only all stories had tugged the heart-strings in this manner!

The editing too leaves much to desire. There are typos and a story is even repeated with only a little change. However, for vignettes of life in Pre-partioned Punjab, this is a good book.


First Line: Short story, like love, is eternal.

Title: The Yellow Rose and Other Stories

Author: K.K. Khullar

Publication Details: ND: Oshan Publications, 1998

First Published: 1998

Pages: xxxii + 114


Book(s) with similar theme(s)

India Partitioned: The Other Face Of Freedom

India Partitioned: The Other Side of Freedom

Copies of the book can be ordered on the Net. I borrowed it from Dyal Singh Public Library, ITO.


Submitted for the following challenges:


Borrowed Book


  1. Dear Blogger,

    I am currently reading "India Unbound" by Gurcharan Das. Although it is not a book about the partition, it does have some description of the time just before the partition. It resonates with me - seems like I am reading something very familiar to me.

    I found out through this book that Lyallpur was named after Sir Charles James Lyall, who was its founder.

    - Nitu

  2. Dear Reader

    If I remember correctly, Gurcharan Das has also written A Fine Family, a novel set during partition.

    Know about James Lyall. Is Lyallpur now called Faizabad?

  3. Yes, he has written "A Fine Family" too. Have you read it?

    The new name for Lyallpur is Faislabad - changed in 1977.

    1. No haven't read it. In fact there are many books of Das that I want to read including A Fine Family, and The Subtle Art of Dharma.

      Thanks for the info abt Lyallpur.