Book Review: Divided by Partition, United by Resilience by Mallika Ahluwalia


Genre: Non-Fiction

Publishers: Rupa Publications

Price: Rs. 295/- (I got the book for review from the publisher)

Behind the Book

During the mayhem of the 1947 Partition, lakhs of people lost their homes and livelihoods, while lakhs died. It was a time of catastrophic loss. Despite this, people found the strength to look towards the future and focused on rebuilding their lives and the country they had migrated to. This book captures stories of resilience and sheer grit of people caught in the vortex.

It comprises life stories of twenty-one extraordinary individuals who were deeply affected by the Partition, yet went on to achieve greatness in Independent India. Through their first-hand accounts, they provide a visceral insight into the devastation of families who endured the migration, the camps, and the struggle of rebuilding their lives.

Each of these stories is inspirational in a timeless way, and the book is ultimately about the resilience and triumph of the human spirit over everything else.

Manmohan Singh | L.K. Advani | Madan Lal Khurana | M.S. Kohli | Dharampal Gulati | Faqir Chand Kohli | Manoranjan Byapari | Gulzar | Hamida Habibullah | Kasturi Lal Wadhwa | Krishen Khanna | Kuldip Nayar | Ajeet Cour | Brijmohan Lall Munjal | Govind Nihalani | Anjolie Ela Menon | Milkha Singh | Ram Jethmalani | Satish Gujral | Surinder Singh Gandhi | Ved Marwah.

About the Author

Mallika Ahluwalia is the CEO, curator and co-founder of the world’s first Partition Museum, which opened at Town Hall, Amritsar in August 2017. The museum has been listed in the ‘Best of India: 18 Places to Visit in 2018’ list by National Geographic Traveller India. She was recently awarded with an Excellence Award by Conde Nast Traveller and an ASEAN-India Youth Achiever Award for her work in honouring this history. Prior to this, Mallika worked in the field of health and education with some of the leading international development organizations, focusing on social policy that impacted the most marginalized households in India. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MPA/ID from Harvard Kennedy School and an A.B. cum laude from Princeton University in public policy. She lives in New Delhi. Three of her four grandparents were affected by the Partition.

Reading this book was a deeply moving experience in many ways. If you have been following my blog, you will surely know my love for stories from across the border. I have a huge soft corner for that piece of land which was once ours and for some reason, I cry at there mere thought of Partition. Off late I have been reading a lot of books based during that time and it tears me up every single time.  This book was no different. I cried, a lot.

It is so heart-wrenching to see the repercussions of one action done by a handful of people without much thought about it's after-effects. Its be 70+ years and we are still paying a heavy price for that one single decision taken by them.

Written by Mallika Ahluwalia this book is a collection heart-breakingly beautiful experiences amidst the chaos of 1947 Partition. One more reason for me to feel extremely emotional is, the day that Partition museum was opened in Amritsar I had added it to my wish-list as one of the Must See places before I die. And then to hold a book written by someone who is the co-founder of the museum is surreal.

Instead of lending her voice to their stories, the author allows them to share their own experiences making it a rich experience filled with lot of warmth and 'apnapan'. At the end of the book I wish I could engulf all of them into one tight hug, for not only having survived it all but also lived to tell the tale. Each one of them is inspiring in so many ways, they never let their past decide their future and that is what makes them ideal for each one of us who crib about every small thing that goes wrong in life.

The stories are lucid, moving and at the same time are straight from the heart. It makes this collection a beautiful and poignant read. Recommended to all, for its sheer beauty!

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Sweet Kachori - Crispy on the outside with full of sweet surprises inside.
Source: IndiaMART