Remnants of a Separation : a book of stories and history

The one thing I love being a TA is the chance to discuss with a lot of students. This term, I don’t remember why, one of them talked to me about a book written by his sister. I had the title on a piece of paper. Let it aside for some times. Then discovered that the book was not in the McGill catalogue so I requested it with ILL. I had really no idea what the book was about until I received it.

Remnants of a Separation – a History of the Partition through Material Memory, by Aanchal Malhotra.

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I was not familiar with the history of the Partition between Pakistan and India. More precisely, I was not familiar at all, except some facts gathered here and there, about the history of this region. This is the perfect book to learn about it.

By gathering multiple oral histories, some from her own grandparents, Aanchal Malhotra brings to life the story of before and after the Partition. Each of the chapter is dedicated to a specific object – a kitchenware, a mmang-tikka, a pashmina shawl – that came from one side to the other of the new frontier. We read not only the facts, but the pain and the fear, the courage of these people who left their home. The author is not only writing, she puts herself in the pages, her feeling when she hears these stories, when she touches those artefacts.

I won’t be able to finish Remnants of a Separation before the end of the loan and mus now find where to buy it. I think that in this era where a lot of people are pushed out of their country by different types of crisis, this book is a really good reminder that all of them are single individuals, carrying their history, some pieces of their old life, and a hope for a better tomorrow. During the Partition, a lot of people helped the migrants to build a new life. I hope we can do the same now.

Ady, thank you very much for the great term, and for making me read this amazing book.


Banner image : Remnants of a Separation – a History of the Partition through Material Memory, by Aanchal Malhotra.

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