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.


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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


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Book(s) with similar theme(s)

India Partitioned: The Other Face Of Freedom


India Partitioned: The Other Side of Freedom

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

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Submitted for the following challenges:


A-Z

Borrowed Book

4 comments:

  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

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  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?

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

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

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    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.

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