Memories of Madness – Stories of 1947
I’m not a big fan of politics and religion. It’s worse if they’re both spoken of in the same breath. Sadly, my father is the opposite; it led him to buy a collection of stories of 1947 titled ‘Memories of Madness’. Three authors take us through the turmoil, human filth of character and helplessness that people faced in the days of India just before Independence, the period when communal violence was possibly at its peak.
The first story is Khushwant Singh’s ‘Train to Pakistan’. A very Bollywood-story of a Sikh dacoit in love with a Muslim girl, but the horror of pre-Independence makes it quite chilling and on the edge of your seat (or bed, or whatever). The second is Bhisham Sahni’s ‘Tamas’, in which he sketches the communal game of the British through the violence that breaks out in remote towns and villages.
Then come the short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto. Of all the stories, his left me with goose bumps—a sensation I haven’t felt since reading some of Neil Gaiman’s short stories more than a year back. In him, I’ve discovered my next favourite author and rediscovered my love for the medium of short story writing.
All the tales are so well-told and with such twists and turns that they either make it difficult for one to breathe or leave one aghast. The one thing that’s unmistakable in all of them is the pointlessness of the killing and violence. And it also leaves me wondering if our political scene is ever going to change; perhaps there is hope with the younger generation of politicians. But that will only be known when a new breed of writers talks of the memories of madness of our times, 60, maybe 70, years from now. I only hope that they do as fabulous a job as Khushwant Singh, Bhisham Sahni and Manto have done.
This post was submitted by Nabila Tazyeen.