I have two pending posts, neither of which I can seem to conclude. So till the time I can figure out my dilemma, I’m going to fill this place with one of my favourites: Saadat Hasan Manto. Below are some really short pieces of his writing (translated from the Urdu by Khalid Hasan, Mottled Dawn).
Some basic things to be observed:
-- The depiction of horrifying violence and insanity which informed Partition (and hence also Manto's works)
-- How women were among the worst affected since they were/are constructed as repositories of 'honour'; 'honour' which, by a perverse logic, needed to be protected and upheld in context of the Self and plundered, looted (and hence raped) with respect to the Other.
-- The systematic involvement of state machinery...
--...as well as how regular people became both victims and oppressors.
-- Mano's characteristic dark humour and irony.
-- And most importantly, the absence of mention of any particular religion or country, which goes to reveal how underlying a "pretense" of difference is actually a terrible sameness.
Enough said. The sketches:
Invitation to Action
When the neighbourhood was set on fire, everything burnt down with the exception of one shop and its sign.
It said, ‘All building and construction materials sold here.’
The two friends finally picked out a girl from the dozen or so they had been shown. She cost forty-two rupees and they brought her to their place.
One of them spent the night with her. ‘What is your name?’ he asked.
When she told him, he was taken aback. ‘But we were told you are of the other religion.’
‘They lied.’ she replied.
‘The bastards cheated us!’ he screamed, ‘selling us a girl who is one of us. I want our money refunded!’
‘He is not dead, there is still some life left in him.’
‘I can’t. I am really exhausted.’
Out of Consideration
‘Don’t kill my daughter in front of me.’
‘All right, all right. Peel off her clothes and throw her in with the other girls!’