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Brought together in this volume are two of the most moving novels by one of India s greatest women writers The Skeleton and The Man. The Skeleton, translated from Punjabi into English by Khushwant Singh, is memorable for its lyrical style and depth in her writing. Amrita Pritam portrays the most inmost being of the novel s complex characters. The Man is a compelling accoun Brought together in this volume are two of the most moving novels by one of India s greatest women writers The Skeleton and The Man. The Skeleton, translated from Punjabi into English by Khushwant Singh, is memorable for its lyrical style and depth in her writing. Amrita Pritam portrays the most inmost being of the novel s complex characters. The Man is a compelling account of a young man born under strange circumstances and abandoned at the altar of God.


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Brought together in this volume are two of the most moving novels by one of India s greatest women writers The Skeleton and The Man. The Skeleton, translated from Punjabi into English by Khushwant Singh, is memorable for its lyrical style and depth in her writing. Amrita Pritam portrays the most inmost being of the novel s complex characters. The Man is a compelling accoun Brought together in this volume are two of the most moving novels by one of India s greatest women writers The Skeleton and The Man. The Skeleton, translated from Punjabi into English by Khushwant Singh, is memorable for its lyrical style and depth in her writing. Amrita Pritam portrays the most inmost being of the novel s complex characters. The Man is a compelling account of a young man born under strange circumstances and abandoned at the altar of God.

30 review for Pinjar: The Skeleton and Other Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kislay Verma

    From my review at Solomon Says: Amrita Pritam pours her own experiences of living through the partition into Pinjar. The story is told from Puro perspective, and is a unique look into the harrowing situation of women at the time. It brings out the multitude of misfortunes that could strike a girl for no fault of hers. She is objectified as the vessel of family honour, a vessel that that had to be thrown away if it broke. There was no mercy in the ossified social system, no hope for rehabilitation From my review at Solomon Says: Amrita Pritam pours her own experiences of living through the partition into Pinjar. The story is told from Puro perspective, and is a unique look into the harrowing situation of women at the time. It brings out the multitude of misfortunes that could strike a girl for no fault of hers. She is objectified as the vessel of family honour, a vessel that that had to be thrown away if it broke. There was no mercy in the ossified social system, no hope for rehabilitation. Amrita’s heroines embody the injustice, the frustration it begets, and occasionally, the strength it forces the victim to find within herself. But they are themselves bound to the old values, and cannot bring themselves to discard the ties that failed them in their times of need. They still ache to be reconciled to them. The entire book is written in short, staccato bursts of dialogue interspersed by agonized scrambling of the characters to come to terms with their lives. It may be my bias towards my native tongue but I certainly find Hindi to be more effective (in general) than English in bringing out the pathos in a situation. Amrita puts a living soul into each of her character. The self-loathing of Puro and Lajjo, the guilt tinged love of Rashid, the tragic naiveté of the mad woman are all eminently human and form the topsy-turvy emotional tableaux of Pinjar. The events of the book are of a long lost past, and we live in a different world today. Wait! Do we? As of this writing, Delhi is unsafe for women, people clamouring for justice for a rape victim clash with the police at India Gate, it is still the woman’s fault and shame. Pinjar is still relevant, and to paraphrase the author, every girl saved and given justice is another Puro.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dhanaraj Rajan

    This book contains two of Amrita Pritam's novellas - PINJAR & THE OTHER MAN. About PINJAR: Clearly one of the bests of the two. It deserves 5 stars. In fact, after having read the novella, the impact was such that I was not able to start the next one for two days. The characters played in my mind and my heart went out to them. I can not say anything about the plot of the story. All I can say is that it is set in the pre-partition Pakistan Punjab when the tensions were running high between the Hin This book contains two of Amrita Pritam's novellas - PINJAR & THE OTHER MAN. About PINJAR: Clearly one of the bests of the two. It deserves 5 stars. In fact, after having read the novella, the impact was such that I was not able to start the next one for two days. The characters played in my mind and my heart went out to them. I can not say anything about the plot of the story. All I can say is that it is set in the pre-partition Pakistan Punjab when the tensions were running high between the Hindu and Muslim communities. The plot moves through India's independence (the partition of the country into India and Pakistan) when the communal tensions reached to monstrous levels on both side of the borders. It ends with the post-independent India and Pakistan. What I have stated are the historical details. But Amrita Pritam has woven a heart wrenching story in this backdrop. All she wants to tell is that Love is the Ultimate Victor who wins over irrespective of the differences created by the mundane realities, such as Caste, Religion, and National Boundaries. This book is a must read for every Punjabi, Indian and Pakistani. Also thrown in are the critical observations on the patriarchal society's unjust hold on the womenfolk. This story was perfect in every sense. The plot kept the reader on the edge. The characters were well rounded, I think. The translation was superb. It certainly must have sounded very well in the original. About THAT MAN: The premise looked fantastic for this novel. But I felt something went wrong. May be, it was more dense in its thoughts. It was not a plot driven story for the most part. It was more a delve into human being's thoughts and inner struggle. Not that, I do not like such novels. I do like them. But I felt the translation might have done damage to it. I did not get the thought flow immediately. I had to reread some passages. May be, it would have sounded superb in the original Punjabi. That is why I might end up giving this novella only 3 stars. This is a story of a boy who at his birth is offered to the temple to be brought up as God's child. He grows up in the temple along with three other priests (a Head Guru and other two servant rishis). He develops no love for the mother who had given him up to the temple. He avoids her whenever she comes to the temple. Later he finds out some more devastating truths about his birth. That pulls him to dark caverns of hatred, the thought of his mother revolts him. How does he save himself from this hatred and how does he reconcile himself to his mother? Or did he reconcile to his mother? Lovely premise. But too much of brooding spoiled the story. Finally: The book is worth for PINJAR. So, no complaints.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ciea✨

    Pinjar means a skeleton. A trap. A soul-less frame of what you once used to be. I read Pinjar some time back, and kept putting off the review. Today when I sat down to finally write it, I was in a deep thought. Kept going back to what another masterpiece by Amrita Pritam made me feel. All I could feel was a dark liquid oozing into my chest, taking me back to the painful history of my country - the blood, the massacres, the assaults. When the British had to go back but couldn’t do so without chan Pinjar means a skeleton. A trap. A soul-less frame of what you once used to be. I read Pinjar some time back, and kept putting off the review. Today when I sat down to finally write it, I was in a deep thought. Kept going back to what another masterpiece by Amrita Pritam made me feel. All I could feel was a dark liquid oozing into my chest, taking me back to the painful history of my country - the blood, the massacres, the assaults. When the British had to go back but couldn’t do so without changing the fates of billions - for the worse. Or maybe they who did that were the countrymen themselves, for their 200 years of being a British colony had drained them of all things humane. Still, with the corpses lining the streets, and mountain-load of ashes that once used to people’s “home”, the worst affected lot were the women. If things aren’t favourable for them now, what do you expect them to be decades back? Women : when you wanted to show your power over the rival community. Women : when your ego was in shreds. Women : when the guts to face your peers was in pieces. Women : when the weakest of the weak wanted to feel like kings. Women : when they wanted to ruin a life just to feel superior for some time. Coming to Pinjar, it was heartbreaking. It was tragic, melancholic, and a complete blast that will shook you to the core. It was about women and the partition. It was about lives made and lives destroyed. It was about the oppressor and the oppressed. It was about the grey side to every community. It was about love and hatred. It was about unity and chaos. In the story, Puro’s life changes forever just before her fairytale-like wedding. How the past grudges of her ancestors with another family of a different religion makes her a soft target for the years old revenge. She doesn’t belong, and is left dangled between two parallel universes because her own family didn’t want to accept the shell of a daughter she used to be. Puro screams on the inside, and that scream reaches right into your heart. She feels like killing herself and the life within her because her body feels like an object anybody could tamper. And that’s when she realises how she isn’t a woman now - but just a pinjar. A walking and breathing shadow, dead on the inside. And that’s when she stumbles upon other women like her. Puro’s life is interconnected to other lives of women like her, some of them she nurtured - and others slipped from between her fingers. These lives are the most difficult and disturbing to read. Painful examples of how women ceased to belong to either side of the border because they became mere pawns in the “bigger picture”. These women had everything but the love, security and respect they deserved. This book shows you how poisonous things can be, and have been for the people who came and fought before you. Not just that, but Puro also goes a long way establishing relationships, losing and finding the people who once consisted of her little world. There is a Puro in every woman, waiting for justice to prevail. Waiting for that woman to fight back, to make for her a life that Puro herself couldn’t. She was an unsung warrior - and though you’ll argue that she didn’t fight on borders or save countries - I know that she was a fighter you could root for. And so were the women who allowed themselves to blossom amidst the darkness, and those who couldn’t - they’ll know that their sacrifice hasn’t gone in vain. A very realistic story that captures the ongoing of human mind and complexities like never before.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    "It was a double life: Hamida by day, Pooro by night. In reality, she was neither one nor the other, she was just a skeleton, without a shape or a name." From PINJAR THE SKELETON by Amrita Pritam, translated from the Punjabi by Khushwant Singh, 1950 / 1987. #ReadtheWorld21 📍Pakistan / India #womenintranslation What an engrossing read! I picked this up and had a hard time putting it down until the end. Set in Amrita Pritam's native Punjab, at that time in British colonial India, this story takes place "It was a double life: Hamida by day, Pooro by night. In reality, she was neither one nor the other, she was just a skeleton, without a shape or a name." From PINJAR THE SKELETON by Amrita Pritam, translated from the Punjabi by Khushwant Singh, 1950 / 1987. #ReadtheWorld21 📍Pakistan / India #womenintranslation What an engrossing read! I picked this up and had a hard time putting it down until the end. Set in Amrita Pritam's native Punjab, at that time in British colonial India, this story takes place in the 1940s, on the cusp of Partition. This book is a lens into the daily occurrences of Muslim and Hindu village life, and the intersections of the two, pre-Partition. Interestingly enough, the author was born into a Sikh family, but the book only mentions Sikhs once. "Just as a peeled orange falls apart in many segments, the Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs of the Punjab broke away from each other. As clouds of dust float over the roads, rumours of 'incidents' began to float over the countryside." Young Pooro becomes Hamida, a wife and mother. She also becomes a safe haven for many - neglected children and foundlings, a woman with a mental illness, and finally, young girls who have (like she was) been abducted and forced to marry. Into this setting, we see the increased tensions, and ultimately the horrible violence of Partition in this small village of the borderlands. Even despite the tragedy of this time, this story has hope and endurance. Pritam wrote many novels, poetry collections, a hand full translated into English from Punjabi and Hindi. She is recognized as the foremost Punjabi writer of the time, popular in both India and Pakistan (she lived and worked in both Lahore and New Delhi after Partition). Pinjar is her best known work. It was even made into a film in 2003.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Uttara Srinivasan

    Pinjar is the journey of Pooro - a woman abducted to assuage the scar of an immaterial feud and abandoned to salvage the all important prestige that religion and family hold in society. Pooro (like many other women in the book) embodies the patriarchy that the world around us today in 2017, is still trying to break free from. She has no control over her life. Even her ability to raise the child she births and nurses, is decided by the men around her. In her writing that now ages several decades, Pinjar is the journey of Pooro - a woman abducted to assuage the scar of an immaterial feud and abandoned to salvage the all important prestige that religion and family hold in society. Pooro (like many other women in the book) embodies the patriarchy that the world around us today in 2017, is still trying to break free from. She has no control over her life. Even her ability to raise the child she births and nurses, is decided by the men around her. In her writing that now ages several decades, Amrita Pritam and her Pooro make us wonder at our own dismal hypocrisy when we wonder if the men who kidnapped and abandoned her respectively, still weren't all that bad after all. Set in an era that two nations (if nations are its people and not its politicians) would most likely want to go back and re-write, Pinjar is still relevant. And if that isn't scary, what else is?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sidra

    I had heard so much about Pinjar by Amrita Pritam and desperately wanted to get my hands on it. Pinjar is a short story based on the circumstances of the partition particularly centered around the forceful conversion of women. Honestly, the storyline is predictable and nothing out of the ordinary. The same story line has been used in so many of the tales of partition that I've lost count. I had heard so much about Pinjar by Amrita Pritam and desperately wanted to get my hands on it. Pinjar is a short story based on the circumstances of the partition particularly centered around the forceful conversion of women. Honestly, the storyline is predictable and nothing out of the ordinary. The same story line has been used in so many of the tales of partition that I've lost count.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sumit Singla

    Normally, when I read translations from famous originals, the story makes perfect sense, but the language leaves much to be desired. Especially with Indian authors, many of the translators are just people who know the two languages, and not really artists in either one of them. However, Khushwant Singh was masterful in his use of English & Punjabi. Not only that, he was a raconteur and knew precisely how to keep the audience engaged. And that's the best part about Pinjar. The first story in the bo Normally, when I read translations from famous originals, the story makes perfect sense, but the language leaves much to be desired. Especially with Indian authors, many of the translators are just people who know the two languages, and not really artists in either one of them. However, Khushwant Singh was masterful in his use of English & Punjabi. Not only that, he was a raconteur and knew precisely how to keep the audience engaged. And that's the best part about Pinjar. The first story in the book is that of Pooro - who ends up being married to her abductor. The storyline is a complex tapestry of human emotion and incorporates elements of the caste/religion divide and the backdrop of partition. Poignant, this one. The second story is much more complex and conflicted, but I didn't think as highly of it. Probably, much better language and not enough storytelling.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mandeep Toor

    In the winter of 2011, i read this book. Belonging from Punjab so it was obvious to heard about Amrita Pritam's works as she has been highly praised for her post Indian revolution literary works. I have only read Amrita's only this book. So i can't judge her other novels or books. Pinjar is a novel with intentional and emotional struggles. It's a novel that shed light over revenge and betrayal in two families. The one that took revenge while the other one had no excuse to be hurt. Novel is short, In the winter of 2011, i read this book. Belonging from Punjab so it was obvious to heard about Amrita Pritam's works as she has been highly praised for her post Indian revolution literary works. I have only read Amrita's only this book. So i can't judge her other novels or books. Pinjar is a novel with intentional and emotional struggles. It's a novel that shed light over revenge and betrayal in two families. The one that took revenge while the other one had no excuse to be hurt. Novel is short, interesting and excellent work depicting the 40s and 50s Era of Punjabi culture. The book is a must for every Punjabi and should for every Indian (off course literary fans). I personally admire her work after reading this novel and it dwells us rightly into that scene of 40s. I like how the novel provides us a moral to not get revenge from people that were actually not responsible for what suffered us. In explaining more general, if someone did wrong with you, than the wrongness applies to that guy who did it to you rather than their family members. They are without a doubt are innocence and free to live. You should only seek revenge from the people who did wrong to you. However i strongly believe if something people of Punjab or Indians (in addition to regarding this novel as Indian literary work) have learned from it is that nothing. They didn't learned the value and moral of this novel as i can clearly see in the society. Still one of the greatest work remains in Punjabi literature. Long live the work of Amrita Pritam.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephy Simon

    PINJAR: The Skeleton and Other Stories by Amrita Pritam  Translate by : Khushwant Singh I am in no mood to write a long caption. No matter what I say, this book is a must-read. The book comprises of two short stories: The Skeleton and That Man. The Skeleton is my favourite of the two, and that's the one I highly recommend. Pinjar or The Skeleton is a story set in the backdrop of partition of India.  The word partition itself is enough to give an idea about the mood of this story. It's the tale of Puro PINJAR: The Skeleton and Other Stories by Amrita Pritam  Translate by : Khushwant Singh I am in no mood to write a long caption. No matter what I say, this book is a must-read. The book comprises of two short stories: The Skeleton and That Man. The Skeleton is my favourite of the two, and that's the one I highly recommend. Pinjar or The Skeleton is a story set in the backdrop of partition of India.  The word partition itself is enough to give an idea about the mood of this story. It's the tale of Puro. Puro is the obedient daughter who gladly accepts the marriage proposal which her parents chose for her and dreams about a life with the prospective suitor. Her world turns upside down when Rashid abducts her to avenge a similar crime committed by her uncle. After struggling for days, she manages to escape and return to her family. But the family was not ready to accept her fearing society. The rejection gave her a  severe blow than abduction. Devastated, Puro returned to Rashid and started to live like a Skeleton. She broke all the ties from her past life, even her name and religion. The story later takes us to the partition of India. It also highlights the atrocities towards women, their sufferings, and sacrifices that took place in this background. Behind all this, the life of Puro is an example of struggle, motherhood, compassion, and determination. In fact it's a story that won't fail to transfer the emotions of the characters towards the reader. That Man : It's the story of a man who was born to be a saint as his parents decided so. The whole story is the man's search for closure. The story, written as poetic prose, has an air of melancholy surrounding it. I guess The essence of the story got lost in translation, and it failed to impress me. Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kiran Bhat

    Pinjar is one of the most harrowingly feminine tales of the Partition era, and woefully one of the least well-known. This short novella details the life of a Hindu girl turned Muslim through forced marriage, and the trials and tribulations that occur in her life as the land around her divides by religion. Whether it is the crazy woman who haunts the village while running around naked, or the obsessive wanna-be-husband Rashid who loves a little girl beyond control, Pritam does not purport to draw Pinjar is one of the most harrowingly feminine tales of the Partition era, and woefully one of the least well-known. This short novella details the life of a Hindu girl turned Muslim through forced marriage, and the trials and tribulations that occur in her life as the land around her divides by religion. Whether it is the crazy woman who haunts the village while running around naked, or the obsessive wanna-be-husband Rashid who loves a little girl beyond control, Pritam does not purport to draw characters with subtly, or with much emotional range, but webbed through the misfortunes of their circumstances, life-like, they become. I believed after reading this book that I lived in a small rural village in Punjab, where the dust soaked up to my neck, and people lived the most meager of lives in the most external of huts. There was such a jolt to the language that I simply could not stop reading no matter how much I wanted to. I am certain that I would re-read this book in the future. The complexity of the relation of Hamida and Rashid has many nuances that can be gleamed from a second look, and I learnt that the simplest of dialogue, the starkest of image and the most subtle use of symbols can make a book stand out. (Coincidentally, after having attended a book club meeting discussing Craig Thompson's Habibi (a graphic novel written by a white American which explores rape and sexual violence in a unnamed imagined Middle Eastern country), it was almost serendipity that I was to immediately pick up a book which tells a similar story, but through the eyes of a native. Whereas Thompson purposefully plays into Orientalist tropes and writes with the full authority of the male gaze, Pritam is a local, and a female, and she writes fully with the power of her imagine imbued with her perspective. For any one who has read this graphic novel and looks for something more authentic, I highly highly recommend picking this novella up.)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Himanshu Singh

    Well, the story may not please all the readers, specially readers like me who are witnessing the massive awareness that is coming in New India, we are getting to know all the facts of history which was either intentionally not told or half told to us, we as the young generation of India know about Islamic invasions on India as they were & not as some communist/leftists/pseudo-liberals have presented in their works, still this book represents the truth exceptionally well, several times it tries t Well, the story may not please all the readers, specially readers like me who are witnessing the massive awareness that is coming in New India, we are getting to know all the facts of history which was either intentionally not told or half told to us, we as the young generation of India know about Islamic invasions on India as they were & not as some communist/leftists/pseudo-liberals have presented in their works, still this book represents the truth exceptionally well, several times it tries to monkey balance & equate the crimes of Hindus & Muslims but at a time when anyone hardly spoke the truth(as it'd raise communal tensions) this book gives you a good idea about partition of India which by the way also was the largest mass relocation of people in the history of humanity (purely based on religion, Hindu hatred of Muslims to be specific). This book is a genuine account also because it truly highlights lakhs & lakhs of Hindu girls were abducted & due to the fear of being killed their families did not accept or try to fight for them(initially). Eventually these converted girls made themselves to believe it was their fate to be raped & converted & in Hope of finding a new stable life they decided to stay in Pakistan as they couldn't afford to fight even further & die while trying to come to India. What appears as the violence by Hindu was just the mere backlash or an attempt to ensure their survival from a community that was thirsty of their blood & hated them deeply due to their religious beliefs. It also gives us a little introduction to Stockholm syndrome As at the end pooro(converted to Hamida) decides to stay with Rashida, the guy who destroyed all her dreams, abducted her, converted her & of course treated her well after all this. Hamida's decision to stay in Pakistan, however wrong/bad it may seem was a reality that millions of hindu girls at that time had to settle with.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Apoorva

    This book By Amrita Pritam is small but a difficult read. This book talks about unjust plight of women who become the target of a family feud and her whole relationship with her parents is dissolved. Pooro, kidnapped by Rashida right before her betrothal to Ram Singh from the neighboring state is perplexed. Why will her parents not accept her back? Why does the man before her wants to forcibly marry her? Is exacting the family feud all necessary and will lead to her parents lynching? Does a person d This book By Amrita Pritam is small but a difficult read. This book talks about unjust plight of women who become the target of a family feud and her whole relationship with her parents is dissolved. Pooro, kidnapped by Rashida right before her betrothal to Ram Singh from the neighboring state is perplexed. Why will her parents not accept her back? Why does the man before her wants to forcibly marry her? Is exacting the family feud all necessary and will lead to her parents lynching? Does a person die inside but lives to be a shell of a human being? A remnant perhaps is left behind.. The book is agonizing, and a cry for help. The help never comes.. And the living goes on.. " Who will marry you now? You have lost you religion and your birthright. If we dare to help you, we will be wiped out without a trace of blood left behind to tell of our fate" Pooro now rechristened as Hamida yearns to feel something for her newborn child and for her husband. She feels kind of a disgust for both and feels at loss. " I have no desire to divulge anything, but the decaying processes have begun within me." Will Pooro ever get a chance at redemption? Another story is That man. I found this story particularly hard to read. Its about a baby which is given to the temple to be taken care of and grows to be a sage. The boy develops absolute hatred for his mother, loses a sense of belonging , does not understand devotion and searches for inner peace. The author delves into the inner machinations of the human soul which get more and more complicated as the layers are peeled back. The inner musings and the torture that overthinking does is palpable in this story. "Each question is measurable in terms of darkness. The only difference is that if the question is a small one, it crawls and cries like an infant; but if it is a big one, it gropes, hands outstretched in the blinding blackness and strikes its head against the cave walls.''

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karandeep

    It's crazy how relevant this book is even today. We talk about equality and yet we see women being forced to marry someone in the name of arranged marriages, which may not always be bad, but we can't discount the fact that some are actually suffering. The book also touches the topic of kidnapping of the refugee women and the exchange that happened thereafter. My question is, how many men are mature enough to let something like that go for it was something that was beyond anybody's control? We are It's crazy how relevant this book is even today. We talk about equality and yet we see women being forced to marry someone in the name of arranged marriages, which may not always be bad, but we can't discount the fact that some are actually suffering. The book also touches the topic of kidnapping of the refugee women and the exchange that happened thereafter. My question is, how many men are mature enough to let something like that go for it was something that was beyond anybody's control? We are talking of 1950s. Oh wait, have we raised our men in the 2000s any different? I doubt. Fast forward today. I assumed education is changing the thought around many things unacceptable but little did I know beyond my bubble, there still exist men who are stuck in the mindset of the 1900s. This book is relevant and this book should be read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tavleen Kaur (Travelling Through Words)

    Pinjar is a short read. Through one woman, Pritam tells the story of many women of that time who were displaced, abducted, raped, or forcefully married into another religion. The English translation is simple to read. I imagine the original would have a much deeper impact on the reader. The story of the protagonist, Puro, is complex. She questions her place in the world and the injustice done to her for being a woman. She comes to love as well as hate her husband who abducts her, marries her, an Pinjar is a short read. Through one woman, Pritam tells the story of many women of that time who were displaced, abducted, raped, or forcefully married into another religion. The English translation is simple to read. I imagine the original would have a much deeper impact on the reader. The story of the protagonist, Puro, is complex. She questions her place in the world and the injustice done to her for being a woman. She comes to love as well as hate her husband who abducts her, marries her, and converts her into his religion. I think this novel is incredibly relevant even today. Pritam shows how women, since time immemorial, have been used as objects of revenge during wars. In the works that I have read so far, I've found her writing to be bold, powerful, and full of emotions. I did not finish the story following this "That Man" Check out more of my book reviews, recommendations, and other content on my blog Travelling Through Words and bookstagram!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Simpreet Kaur

    Amrita Pritam wore her heart on her sleeves. It’s typical of poets and writers to feel everything deeply and you can tell from reading her books as to why she was the first recognized female name in Punjabi literature. It’s sad that her writings are not readily available. It took me years to get to read ‘Pinjar’, one of her highly acclaimed novels. And I haven’t even read her poetry yet. For this specific collection, there are two included novellas, ‘Pinjar’ and ‘The Man’. Pinjar is a beautiful Amrita Pritam wore her heart on her sleeves. It’s typical of poets and writers to feel everything deeply and you can tell from reading her books as to why she was the first recognized female name in Punjabi literature. It’s sad that her writings are not readily available. It took me years to get to read ‘Pinjar’, one of her highly acclaimed novels. And I haven’t even read her poetry yet. For this specific collection, there are two included novellas, ‘Pinjar’ and ‘The Man’. Pinjar is a beautiful story intertwining emotion and destiny with the era of India’s partition and the strict values punishing an honor less woman even if it was the same society that slaughtered her honor in the first place. Only a woman could get under the skin of Puro (the Protagonist) and tell us her soul-shattering story. A Hindu girl, from a good family about to be married to the man of her dreams gets kidnapped by a lowly, poor muslim man. He claims its revenge he’s seeking but he falls in love with her. She manages to run away from his clutches, only to find that the parents who loved her dearly now reject her, fearing ostracization by the society. She’s dead to them and has no place but to go back to the same man who brought ruin to her. The rest of the story describes the cruel winds of those times and the society’s treatment of women. For the sake of not putting in any spoilers here, I would recommend this book to folks interested in Punjabi history or someone looking for good literature with a history lesson included. (Note: Translated into English by my favorite Sikh author- Khuswant Singh. Calculating from the date of publication to Khuswant Singh’s age, I guess this was translated around the time he was 92-93 years old. I haven’t read the book in its original Punjabi language so am unable to comment on the quality of translation.) ‘The Man’ is overshadowed by the first novella so I am unable to review it in the same manner as Pinjar. The story is of the emotional turmoil of a son who has been donated to the temple by his mother at the tender age of 1 to be brought up by the priest. Most of it is a monologue of dark self-destructive thoughts of this young man. Towards the end, he learns some facts that clears up the doubts that he has had for his entire life but is it enough for the salvation that his soul years for….not sure? You might as well read it as a part of this collection, it’s probably no more than a 100 pages.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kobe Bryant

    Its funny how village life is so similar everywhere, I guess thats the human experience

  17. 4 out of 5

    Prabhat sharma

    Pinjar by Amrita Pritam- (Skeleton) The novel is originally in Punjabi (Gurumukhi) language published in 1950. I have the English translation. The story has been written in the backdrop of Partition of India in 1947. The story is about a woman protagonist, Hindu girl Pooro who has been abducted by Rashid, a Muslim whose family is living in the same village. Pooro runs from the house of Rashid back to her parents but her parents do not accept her as she has been defiled. Hindu society considers w Pinjar by Amrita Pritam- (Skeleton) The novel is originally in Punjabi (Gurumukhi) language published in 1950. I have the English translation. The story has been written in the backdrop of Partition of India in 1947. The story is about a woman protagonist, Hindu girl Pooro who has been abducted by Rashid, a Muslim whose family is living in the same village. Pooro runs from the house of Rashid back to her parents but her parents do not accept her as she has been defiled. Hindu society considers woman not as a person but as a commodity. In the Book, the dark and violent atmosphere of partition and thinking process of all communities- Hindu, Muslim, and Sikhs in the circumstance of violence, murder, is shifting bag and baggage from their ancestral homes in Pakistan to India. Muslims coming to Pakistan from India also suffer the same calamity. The Book depicts two facts of partition of India, first is loss of humanity and second, ultimate surrender to the fate. While living in Muslim household, she looses her dreams of marriage to Ramchand which was already fixed. The moral of the story is that Pooro does not remain a victim of religious violence but she accepts her new identity and becomes an agent of change. She meets the Hindu families moving to India with her good wishes. The moral of the story is that there should be more respect of the girl child and woman on the whole. It is a classic work. It is a must read Book for all.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sumati Arora

    I happened to read this book recently but had seen the movie long time ago. While the movie was sure great, the book touches chords that not only make you sympathetic towards Pooro but also make you respect the men who go all out to fight for their wife, their sister. The time when this incident happened in history is one that alot of our elders can relate to and have sure narrated stories of the Hindu-Muslim differences and the suffering on both sides. While it hurts to see that the parents also I happened to read this book recently but had seen the movie long time ago. While the movie was sure great, the book touches chords that not only make you sympathetic towards Pooro but also make you respect the men who go all out to fight for their wife, their sister. The time when this incident happened in history is one that alot of our elders can relate to and have sure narrated stories of the Hindu-Muslim differences and the suffering on both sides. While it hurts to see that the parents also turn their back on their daughter in times as painful as these, we still don't blame them because we understand that its not because they didn't love her, its because they had to save the others. Painful journey, expressed beautifully in words written from the heart......LOVED IT!!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Prabhjot Kaur

    This is a heart-wrenching story of partition between India and Pakistan and what women went through at that time. I was horrified, I cried, I felt proud and I felt hopeful. This read took a toll on my emotions and made me think for days and I spoke to my Grandparents who were alive through that period and they also told me their own stories and horrors they witnessed as children/young adults. That's all I did for a while, such is the power of this book. An absolute masterpiece that should be rea This is a heart-wrenching story of partition between India and Pakistan and what women went through at that time. I was horrified, I cried, I felt proud and I felt hopeful. This read took a toll on my emotions and made me think for days and I spoke to my Grandparents who were alive through that period and they also told me their own stories and horrors they witnessed as children/young adults. That's all I did for a while, such is the power of this book. An absolute masterpiece that should be read by all. 5 stars

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ayesha Tahir

    I read this book after i had a traumatic experience with "udaas naslein", hence, another blow to my innocent brain! What i realise is, during indo-pak partition THE HUMAN LOSS WAS ON BOTH SIDES. Muslims suffered in the hands of hindus and sikhs, and hindus suffered in the hands of muslims. So , i was hurt for both. I read this book after i had a traumatic experience with "udaas naslein", hence, another blow to my innocent brain! What i realise is, during indo-pak partition THE HUMAN LOSS WAS ON BOTH SIDES. Muslims suffered in the hands of hindus and sikhs, and hindus suffered in the hands of muslims. So , i was hurt for both.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marcos

    One of the strangest and most unnerving narratives I've read in a while- especially "The Skeleton", this novel, set during the eve of Partition, and set amongst the conflicts between the Muslims and Hindus make a compelling and disturbing read. One of the strangest and most unnerving narratives I've read in a while- especially "The Skeleton", this novel, set during the eve of Partition, and set amongst the conflicts between the Muslims and Hindus make a compelling and disturbing read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aditya Jain

    Things haven't changed a bit. Things haven't changed a bit.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aarti

    i wonder when and where i'll be able to find and read this book! the movie looks sooooo good! i really need to watch it. :P i wonder when and where i'll be able to find and read this book! the movie looks sooooo good! i really need to watch it. :P

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amrendra

    Read as one of the three novels of 'Amrita Pritam - Chune Hue Upanyas' Read as one of the three novels of 'Amrita Pritam - Chune Hue Upanyas'

  25. 4 out of 5

    Miss K

    A heart touching story. It shows the condition of women at the time of partition. Beautifully written. Recommendable novel...Everyone should read at least one time!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Som reading 24x7

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. "In her dreams, when she met her old friends and played in her parents’ home, everyone still called her Pooro. At other times she was Hamida. It was a double life: Hamida by day, Pooro by night. In reality, she was neither one nor the other, she was just a skeleton, without a shape or a name." Pinjar( English meaning- the skeleton) is based on a girl named Pooro, whose fate was not decided by her but by others. The story is based during the time of partition of India, in a village where Muslims a "In her dreams, when she met her old friends and played in her parents’ home, everyone still called her Pooro. At other times she was Hamida. It was a double life: Hamida by day, Pooro by night. In reality, she was neither one nor the other, she was just a skeleton, without a shape or a name." Pinjar( English meaning- the skeleton) is based on a girl named Pooro, whose fate was not decided by her but by others. The story is based during the time of partition of India, in a village where Muslims and Hindus lived together. She is abducted just before her marriage, by a muslim guy named Rashida. He tells her about an old conflict going on between his family and her family which resulted in bringing defame to his family thus he had to abduct her and marry her to bring the old equation to an equal point. She was held captive for days so that she would choose to live as Rashida's wife. As the scenario is based in old times, the untouchability between Hindus and Muslims is pretty high. She escapes successfully from Rashida but her family doesn't accept her so she has to go back to him and they get married, even her hindu name is changed to Hamida. Months later, she is pregnant but isn't happy about it as she still has no emotion for her husband or her family who ditched her even when they had the opportunity to save her. The circumstances lead her isolate herself from the world but the trauma she is going through teaches her lessons that are worthy for her whole life. The helpless of a woman against the society is well portraited even how a woman is materialized. It's beautiful the way the words are flowing through out the book, I wonder if I loved this translated work then how beautiful is the original work. The punjabi vibes going on in the book is amazing. I will surely suggest to check out this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Omkar (BookmanOmkar)

    " We’ll try reaching Good when we find some free time; let us try reaching out to ourselves first. How can we see God through this mist when we cannot see our own faces " – Amrita Pritam, Pinjar: The skeleton and other stories • • • • • The first story in this book is "Pinjar" or "The skeleton". It's a story about a Hindu girl called Pooro who was abducted by a Muslim man and was forced to marry him. The story gives insights into the situation of Panjab before and after the partition of India and t " We’ll try reaching Good when we find some free time; let us try reaching out to ourselves first. How can we see God through this mist when we cannot see our own faces " – Amrita Pritam, Pinjar: The skeleton and other stories • • • • • The first story in this book is "Pinjar" or "The skeleton". It's a story about a Hindu girl called Pooro who was abducted by a Muslim man and was forced to marry him. The story gives insights into the situation of Panjab before and after the partition of India and the prejudices of the people in that era. The book makes us realise the love of the author for both the sides of the India-Pakistan border. The journey of Pooro from the girl to becoming a woman with wisdom who fight against all odds to bring love and joy in the life of people who became victims of prejudices of society and politics. This heart wrenching and emotional story is a must-read for everyone. • The second story in this book, called "That Man", is about a boy who was brought up as a God's child due to a promise made by his mother to God. As he grew up in temple along with other priests, he develops no love for his parents. This tale is more about the inner feelings of the boy and the storm of thoughts he faces every time he realizes the truths related to his birth. I found this story little diverted from the main plot. (It might have happened because I was not reading it with the perspective with which the author had written it or maybe the main gist of the story was lost during the translation.) The best part I liked about it is the revelation made at the end which was truly shocking and unexpected. • Happy reading 📚 ❤️

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sunset

    Pinjar deserved a 5 star rating. A great story. Not sure if That man novella has been lost in translation. The ease of reading pinjar was not there in the other novella that is part of this book

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vartika

    This volume includes two novellas by the celebrated Punjabi author and poet, Amrita Pritam. Both novellas are hard to find in English translation, making this an interesting and important read. • The Skeleton (Pinjar) The Skeleton is the story of Pooro, who is abducted by Rashida a few days before her wedding, and married to him by force. Thus, in pre-partition Punjab, Pooro; rejected by her Hindu parents for fear of ostracization; becomes Hamida. What follows is a compelling and gut-wrenching ac This volume includes two novellas by the celebrated Punjabi author and poet, Amrita Pritam. Both novellas are hard to find in English translation, making this an interesting and important read. • The Skeleton (Pinjar) The Skeleton is the story of Pooro, who is abducted by Rashida a few days before her wedding, and married to him by force. Thus, in pre-partition Punjab, Pooro; rejected by her Hindu parents for fear of ostracization; becomes Hamida. What follows is a compelling and gut-wrenching account of Hamida's pathos as she gives birth to her son and slowly, painstakingly grows to accept her fate and to lover her husband. Yet, Pooro is unable to leave the remnants of her old life behind, and is faced with a crossroads of emotions when the violence of partition begins. This story explores well how the pride of two religions — and later, two nations — was nested in the body of the woman during the bloodiest civil war the world has ever seen. It also explores the predicament of a woman 'dishonoured' for religion, through multiple women lost over borders and vengeful conquests. Detailing the bloody history of the partition of India and Pakistan from the eyes of a woman, The Skeleton reveals to the reader the hatred and fear that informed attitudes in the autumn of 1947. One particularly poignant scene in the story is when Pooro's brother comes to the village she resides in and burns her husband's fields in rage, being unable to find; and retrieve; her. Pooro then wonders whom she feels for — her Hindu brother, or the husband who abducted her and whom she has grown to love. As a woman of the partition, she occupies the greyest of the grey areas of alliances. Another impactful idea that the author speaks of in this story is the idea of honour itself, and how the same religion that ostracized Pooro on being abducted later took its other women back — just as they tried to take the madwoman's 'Hindu' son back from Rashida and Hamida's household — so that no numbers are lost to the other side. The Skeleton is a very poignant reminder of the inhumanity of the Partition and of the horrific subjection of women to the tenets of honour. As lovely as Khushwant Singh's translation is; I wish I could read gurmukhi, because I would love to read Pinjar in Amrita Pritam's own words. • That Man/ The Other Man (Yaatri) That Man is the story of a son born after much prayer and offered to the temple at birth to be brought up as God's child, in the care and company of two priests and the Head Guru. As he grows up, he becomes enveloped in his own hatred for the world around him, for being forced to live on alms; and especially for the mother who relegated him to such a fate, and whom he avoids as much as he can because of it. As the story progresses, the boy is faced with more unsettling truths about his birth, alongside the memories of his own secrets and having to respond to the gigantic responsibility forced onto his shoulders. Written in the stream of consciousness, That Man explores the inner darkness and mental torment of the twenty-year old boy and gives us a glimpse into the human faults and fallacies of everything 'holy'. It is a heart-wrenching story, but one whose affect is stunted and delayed till the very end. As always, a lot is lost in translation — this holds especially true for 'Yaatri', which, in the process of becoming 'That Man' loses a lot of lucidity (one does not know whose translation this one is, but it isn't Khushwant Singh's). In its translated version; at least; Yaatri becomes a slow read with a lot of philosophical inserts and not enough narrative-linguistic glue to keep it together. Both novellas considered, this was a good read. I would recommend it. Although That Man was stretched thin, The Skeleton redeems this collection, and gets it five stars.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Parth

    Our professor had once mentioned Amrita Pritam in her class, as she talked about feminist authors and their stories. I had googled her and had decided to read Pinjar because the cover of the book seemed so hauntingly sad. First of all, this collection has 2 stories.(2 novellas actually each of 125-140 pages). Let's talk about each of them separately: 1. PINJAR OR THE SKELETON: Pinjar instantly reminded me of Khaled Hoseeini's body of work. Like Hoseeini, Amrita Pritam focuses on the plight of wom Our professor had once mentioned Amrita Pritam in her class, as she talked about feminist authors and their stories. I had googled her and had decided to read Pinjar because the cover of the book seemed so hauntingly sad. First of all, this collection has 2 stories.(2 novellas actually each of 125-140 pages). Let's talk about each of them separately: 1. PINJAR OR THE SKELETON: Pinjar instantly reminded me of Khaled Hoseeini's body of work. Like Hoseeini, Amrita Pritam focuses on the plight of women caught up in a patriarchal set up where their identity is defined by their sexuality. A girl who is a not a virgin is a disgrace to her family and so not fit to live with them. Same thing happens with the protagonist of Pinjar, Pooro. Pooro is kidnapped by a Muslim man (as a scheme of revenge) and when she manages to escape, her family abandons Pooro, thinking she has been defiled. As the partition escalates, Pooro finds her life turned upside down as she makes a life changing decision to help someone close to her. Pinjar is a deftly crafted book, adroitly written and told. It's sad that it doesn't get the international attention it deserves because this is easily one of the most realistic and moving account of women's plight in India. While the narration gets a bit predictable, the ending of this novella moved me to tears. As for the flaws, I was a bit disappointed with the character of Pooro's husband Rashida. He is reduced to a common stereotype of the Stockholm syndrome kidnapper-- if only there had been more layers to his character, the narration would have been more hard and edging. Otherwise, Pinjar is a riveting take on patriarchal systems that exploits, abuses and stripes women of their identity reducing them to just a 'pinjar' (skeleton). 2. Yatri: Yatri is the story of a young priest at a temple who is abandoned by his parents at birth to serve at the temple as God's son. As the story escalates, we learn of his personal desires, religious hypocrisies and the quest for oneself. Amrita Pritam goes for the stream of consciousness technique here, but alas, it doesn't work. With weak similes and monotonous philosophy in every page, this 140 page story actually became a drudge at places to follow. Nevertheless, it had its moments of shock and surprise with a deep message within, still it didn't work for me. Overall, I was really impressed with Amrita Pritam as a writer. In a domain dominated by men, Amrita Pritam dared to explore uncharted territories that prevent her characters from being reduced to just melodramatic figures. Her female characters are not just women, they are individuals in their own right with their own feelings. Hats off to this brilliant author for showcasing a bitter yet powerful take at society and its turbulent state, which is still impactful to this day.

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