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Remnants of a Separation is a unique attempt to revisit the Partition through objects that refugees carried with them across the border. These belongings absorbed the memory of a time and place, remaining latent and undisturbed for generations. They now speak of their owner's pasts as they emerge as testaments to the struggle, sacrifice, pain and belonging at an unparallel Remnants of a Separation is a unique attempt to revisit the Partition through objects that refugees carried with them across the border. These belongings absorbed the memory of a time and place, remaining latent and undisturbed for generations. They now speak of their owner's pasts as they emerge as testaments to the struggle, sacrifice, pain and belonging at an unparalleled moment in history. A string of pearls gifted by a maharaja, carried from Dalhousie to Lahore, reveals the grandeur of a life that once was. A notebook of poems, brought from Lahore to Kalyan, shows one woman's determination to pursue the written word despite the turmoil around her. A refugee certificate created in Calcutta evokes in a daughter the feelings of displacement her father had experienced upon leaving Mymensingh zila, now in Bangladesh. Written as a crossover between history and anthropology, Remnants of a Separation is the product of years of passionate research. It is an alternative history of the Partition - the first and only one told through material memory that makes the event tangible even seven decades later.


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Remnants of a Separation is a unique attempt to revisit the Partition through objects that refugees carried with them across the border. These belongings absorbed the memory of a time and place, remaining latent and undisturbed for generations. They now speak of their owner's pasts as they emerge as testaments to the struggle, sacrifice, pain and belonging at an unparallel Remnants of a Separation is a unique attempt to revisit the Partition through objects that refugees carried with them across the border. These belongings absorbed the memory of a time and place, remaining latent and undisturbed for generations. They now speak of their owner's pasts as they emerge as testaments to the struggle, sacrifice, pain and belonging at an unparalleled moment in history. A string of pearls gifted by a maharaja, carried from Dalhousie to Lahore, reveals the grandeur of a life that once was. A notebook of poems, brought from Lahore to Kalyan, shows one woman's determination to pursue the written word despite the turmoil around her. A refugee certificate created in Calcutta evokes in a daughter the feelings of displacement her father had experienced upon leaving Mymensingh zila, now in Bangladesh. Written as a crossover between history and anthropology, Remnants of a Separation is the product of years of passionate research. It is an alternative history of the Partition - the first and only one told through material memory that makes the event tangible even seven decades later.

30 review for Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material Memory

  1. 4 out of 5

    Resh (The Book Satchel)

    This book is one of my favourite reads of 2017. I read very few non fiction titles this year and I was amazed by how touching the stories are. I cannot even talk about the passages I have underlined or marked because there are that many! Aanchal Malhotra’s Remnants of a Separation tells the history of partition through heirlooms and gifts smuggled across the borders - thus revisiting the past through material memory. Long before partition, Muslims and Hindus co-existed as neighbours, friends or b This book is one of my favourite reads of 2017. I read very few non fiction titles this year and I was amazed by how touching the stories are. I cannot even talk about the passages I have underlined or marked because there are that many! Aanchal Malhotra’s Remnants of a Separation tells the history of partition through heirlooms and gifts smuggled across the borders - thus revisiting the past through material memory. Long before partition, Muslims and Hindus co-existed as neighbours, friends or business partners. Then came the partition. Friends became enemies; neighbours became betrayers and relationships changed. Aanchal interviews many who witnessed the partition on either side of the border and writes their stories in the book What I loved? -perfect size for each story. Not too long; not too short. -captivating storytelling -great attention to details - accurate description of monetary value in those times for easy comparison with today's scenario - stories of women who raised families, served government, became writers, fought against fate etc. - POVs of people on both sides of the border. Be warned you will well up several times and even break down crying while reading the stories. I definitely broke into a great many ugly sobs. For a longer review, visit http://www.thebooksatchel.com/remnant... Much thanks to Bahrisons Booksellers for a copy of the novel. All opinions are my own. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rakhi Dalal

    I picked up Remnants of Separation because I was looking for books on Partition of India which happened in 1947. I wished to delve into the socio-cultural aspects of the region that was affected most during Partition. Part of it coming for the reason that my Grandmother was born in Rawalpindi and had gone through the pain of leaving her maternal home behind while escaping to this side of the border. Though I do know of some facts as told by her but I never ventured to ask her, while she was stil I picked up Remnants of Separation because I was looking for books on Partition of India which happened in 1947. I wished to delve into the socio-cultural aspects of the region that was affected most during Partition. Part of it coming for the reason that my Grandmother was born in Rawalpindi and had gone through the pain of leaving her maternal home behind while escaping to this side of the border. Though I do know of some facts as told by her but I never ventured to ask her, while she was still alive, about the tribulations she might have gone through at that time. It might have been because I was young and my mind did not register the import of those events at the time. But what I do remember is her eyes. Sometimes she would just sit motionless, her gaze fixed upon something in distance, but to me, it seemed very sad. I could sense unhappiness though I didn’t realise the cause. It haunts me even now, not knowing what might have transpired in her mind or if she would have liked to tell something. There must be some memories she had too. In my curiosity to get an idea of the kind of life she might have lived during her childhood and the kind of anxiety or fear she might have gone through, I started looking for books on the subject. It was then that a reading group on FB advised this book by Aanchal Malhotra and I picked it up. Aanchal tells us twenty-one stories of the people who moved during Partition. She tells the stories through the material objects from those times which still remain with these people, objects which they hold dear. The author also puts a picture of the object before each memory, thus giving a kind of essence to each story. These pictures help us look closer and understand the memories which are associated with these objects, memories which sustain them or memories which they wish had never had the likelihood of shaping if the event hadn’t taken place. They don’t yet understand why Partition took place, why they were uprooted from their land and their homes. Most of them still long to return to their homes, to that land which nourished their souls once. In the introduction, the author muses over the nature of memory: Human memory is fragile. We mentally store our experiences as memories. However, it is important to understand that our memory is not a recording device. It cannot be stored as an exact and precise mnemonic trace of that moment, especially when time gradually begins to wear it down. If you imagine an experience to be the construction of a memory, then its recollection years later can be defined as its reconstruction. As the years pass, memory, inherently malleable, accumulates many perforations that can be filled with new experiences – imagined, fabricated and, sometimes, even a seamless integration of several unconnected memories into one. Perhaps a seamless integration has been what has happened with people’s memories related to Partition. When we read the account as told by them, we realise that mostly, people do not narrate incidents in a linear manner but as and when something strikes them, sometimes also adding newer experiences they had with these objects after they settled in a new place. The beauty of the author’s portrayal lies in the manner in which she tells stories. It is always the people, their memories and their accounts which take center stage. She listens attentively, writes empathetically, but she never intrudes in the narrative space of those narrating stories. She maintains a courteous distance, yet her sobriety is reassuring. All the memories touched me profoundly and sometimes I found myself visualising the events in my mind. Still, there were two memories which left a lasting impression upon me. These were- Memory Seventeenth: From the Folds of Life: The Household items of Sitara Faiyaz Ali and Memory Twentieth: Between This Side and That: The sword of Ajit Kaur Kapoor Twentieth memory was the most gruesome account of trials of Partition.(view spoiler)[ I could never imagine parents leaving their own children, killing them even (because they slowed their movement) to escape the enemy. (hide spoiler)] It gave me yet another perspective into the working of the human mind in the face of extremities and made me shudder with fear. I wondered if any of those parents lived longer, how they would have continued in their lives. Would a feeling of guilt or remorse have been sufficient to ease the load of their act? But more importantly, could I, who never had to face such fear, ever judge those people? The Seventeenth memory was about a family which had a summer home in Dalhousie which fell to the Indian side after Partition. That house was very dear to the owner who just had the opportunity to live in it for two summers. According to Sitara Faiyaz Ali, the narrator of the story, it was the dream home of her father which he had built himself brick by brick. While I read and posted an update of my reading progress, I had the fortune of interacting with the author herself. Aanchal posted a link to my Instagram account, asking me to read an article as an accompaniment to that story. The article, by the author herself, recounted how after this book was published, the present resident of that house in India chanced upon the book and read it. When he reached this chapter, he was astonished to find the picture of his home in the book. He contacted the author and the author arranged a video call between people from both sides. When they made a contact via that call, Sitara Faiyaz Ali could see her home again. The present owner showed her around the house and I could sense, while reading that article, how much happiness that act must have brought to her. I felt a sense of gratitude towards the author and thanked her for making me privy to that article, for making me see how the goodness of humankind stands firmer amid chaos and how there is always a hope amidst despair. A picture of the house from the book I cannot possibly express in words how these stories have influenced me. And I cannot thank the writer enough for writing such passionate and touching account of stories of people who suffered pain when severed from their homeland. What I do know is that I will always be hopeful, always think of the kindness that is inherently humane and how it does give an assurance of the future even in troubling times. This book is highly recommended. PS: Here is the online link to the article: https://scroll.in/magazine/856901/how...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mansi Mudgal

    A good book helps you feel and makes you think things you haven’t given much thought before. Remnants of a Separation by @aanch_m does that and more. The book manages to talk about and discuss batwara (partition) of India and Pakistan through material objects brought by refugees on either side during what was perhaps the largest mass migrations in human history with violence on a scale that had seldom been seen before. With Trains full of dead mutilated bodies on either side, gendered violence on A good book helps you feel and makes you think things you haven’t given much thought before. Remnants of a Separation by @aanch_m does that and more. The book manages to talk about and discuss batwara (partition) of India and Pakistan through material objects brought by refugees on either side during what was perhaps the largest mass migrations in human history with violence on a scale that had seldom been seen before. With Trains full of dead mutilated bodies on either side, gendered violence on women with rapes and abduction; families splitting apart. . My family happened to be on the right side of a bureaucratic exercise; a Hindu in India in a town called Rewari in Haryana. We came out relatively unscathed so growing up so many years later I have viewed this event in a detached manner, where human bodies felt like statistics and Pakistan another country just like all others. After reading this book I feel like a different person; imagine running away from your homes and lives in the middle of the night with only those possessions you can carry on your person, things that can be hidden so that you aren’t robbed; some utensils for some, a bit of jewellery for others, photographs, a shawl. . What item will you take while you flee for your lives? The book is bittersweet, I felt for Bano a third generation migrant to Pakistan and her fear of her grandmother’s native tongue Samanishahi being lost to her after her father’s death; the only people speaking it would be those across the border. A yearning for houses, bazaars of Karachi.. of Sindh; Of a man’s home in Jullendur whose stone plaque made his way back to him after so many years. Woh ghar, Woh Bachpan, woh aangan, woh garmiyaan, woh sardiyan (that house, that childhood, that courtyard, those summers, those winters). . I loved how the author brought out all these memories that were repressed or talked of depending on people through objects, the things not being just that anymore but a gateway to a life lived beyond the borders. Is it heartbreaking?Yes, but it’s also hopeful and nostalgic because as long as love stays in between people on both sides there is hope. - Mansi

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shreya Vaid

    As a growing teenager in a Punjabi family, partition was the elephant in the room. I could see traces of it in the photographs, lines of my grandmother's hand that defined the treacherous journey she took that killed her two young brothers, her lost look during conversations. When I grew up, she started sharing stories with me from Rawalpindi, where she spent her childhood. She showed me the Peetal utensils she carried with her, the glasses engraved with her name and photographs, those yellow te As a growing teenager in a Punjabi family, partition was the elephant in the room. I could see traces of it in the photographs, lines of my grandmother's hand that defined the treacherous journey she took that killed her two young brothers, her lost look during conversations. When I grew up, she started sharing stories with me from Rawalpindi, where she spent her childhood. She showed me the Peetal utensils she carried with her, the glasses engraved with her name and photographs, those yellow textured photographs that she looked at almost every Sunday. She always says that nobody will value her sacrifice on the day. These utensils will be sold off and photographs will be thrown away, and that's when I realize that how important it is to share the stories and engrave the experience in younger ones. How important it is to understand what our forefathers sacrificed so that we can live a peaceful life today. Aanchal Malhotra's Remnants of a Separation is one such book that captures the stories of families who were a part of biggest human migration the world has ever seen, the partition of Indian subcontinent, now known as India and Pakistan. In 19 different stories from India and Pakistan, Malhotra captured the human side of the partition, what everyone experienced, how they felt and now how they feel when they have made a new home, the things they carried with themselves, utensils, pearls, jewelry that have now become family heirloom... Out of all, my favorite story is The Dialect of Stitches and Secrets. Just like Hansla Chowdhary's Bagh, my grandmother gifted my mother a saree that she carried with herself across the border, when she was barely 12 years old. I also really liked the Gift of a Maharaja: The Pearls of Hazra Haq and Stateless Heirlooms: The Hamam-Dasta of Savitri Mirchandani. The most beautiful things about Remnants of a Separation is that there is not one side of the story about partition. It is everybody's story. Even though we may feel that one side is at fault, the people who were directly affected feel that it was nobody's fault. The country was divide and they never wanted it to happen in the first place. They just wanted to survive the massacre and live to see the next day. There was no wrong or right. For me, Remnants of a Separation is not just a gem of a book, it is an important item in the partition archive, a book that must be read and cherished so that we understand a part of our lives that hopefully, we never get to live.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Divyasree P K

    Sporting an extremely attractive and eye-catchy cover featuring an exquisite piece of maang tikka amidst the neatly parted white hairs of an old lady with smiling eyes, this book attempts to revisit the Partition through the objects carried across the border. What started as inquisitive conversations around the items bought by the author’s great grandparents during their migration to India expanded to include the stories from other migrants culminating in 21 short stories. In spite of being one Sporting an extremely attractive and eye-catchy cover featuring an exquisite piece of maang tikka amidst the neatly parted white hairs of an old lady with smiling eyes, this book attempts to revisit the Partition through the objects carried across the border. What started as inquisitive conversations around the items bought by the author’s great grandparents during their migration to India expanded to include the stories from other migrants culminating in 21 short stories. In spite of being one of the extremely significant events in the modern history of India, my reading on the subject was severely limited. This book offered an alternate insight to the event through individual experiences – a mode which I have found quite effective and enriching previously with regard to the Holocaust. Personally, the short story format curtailed an extensive connect with the characters but was nevertheless effective in capturing the multitude of horrors endured during the months leading up to as well post the Independence. The conversational style of writing along with the retention of Hindi and Punjabi phrases enhanced the level of storytelling.While the physical objects did set up an occasion and acted as a trigger for the conversation between the author and the interviewees, I didn’t find the experiences to be solely around the objects carried by the migrants. More often than not, they were the first-person accounts of the horrors inflicted by humans on one another during the Partition days. At the end of 400 odd pages, I am better aware of human angle to Partition beyond the simplified social concept of “a violent exodus/arrival of people accompanying the Independence of India”. That made this book a worthwhile read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Aadisht

    For a change, something closer to a review than scattershot notes, because this book felt far more personal than much of my reading. I would recommend this book to everybody based on how deeply it affected me. But I also acknowledge that for somebody who isn't Punjabi and with a family history intertwined with Partition, that same personal connection with the book might not be there. Even so, I would like to give this to everybody, even if only as a warning and antidote to the rhetoric we see the For a change, something closer to a review than scattershot notes, because this book felt far more personal than much of my reading. I would recommend this book to everybody based on how deeply it affected me. But I also acknowledge that for somebody who isn't Punjabi and with a family history intertwined with Partition, that same personal connection with the book might not be there. Even so, I would like to give this to everybody, even if only as a warning and antidote to the rhetoric we see these days. There are two things that made me pause and not buy into this book wholly. The first is that by the very nature of the approach taken - material memory - it selects the rich and upper class, who could afford even in the 1930s or 1940s to purchase or own artefacts that were expensive enough to be worth preserving, or well made enough to last into the 2010s. Someone who couldn't afford clothes that would last seventy years, or anything else of that nature, would be out of the scope of this history. The second is my own reluctance to accept the value of the material and my scorn/ frustration/ despair at people who do. Yes, these material artefacts have memories tied to them which are bringing out history and emotion. But this obsession for material artefacts and 'your own soil' is also what has driven real estate bubbles, poor decisions, and toxic nationalism. So it goes. Some things that particularly stood out for me, or struck me were: Sindhis having no words for Partition, because the Sindhi Hindus lost their entire land (whereas Punjabi and Hindi speaking Punjabis used batwara, and Urdu speaking Punjabis used Taksim) How petulant some of the nationalist activities carried out were - tearing down Union Jacks, refusing to stand for God Save the King - and then realising that in a time of poverty and and preindustrialisation, you had no choice but to be petulant, because your ability to create something better was so limited The last but one chapter, speaking of a Kapoor family that spent its days in Rawalpindi visiting mosques, the local Arya Samaj, and gurudwaras, and educating its daughters; makes me weep for what might have been if such amity and liberalism had been allowed to grow without the pain and disruption of Partition.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Namritha Murali

    Having followed Ms. Aanchal's work on Instagram for a couple of years now, I knew I was in for a treat with this one. I share no personal history with partition and Pakistan by extension, but for long this matter has intrigued me. That said, I thought Aanchal's Instagram, blog & the articles on Scroll, all have provided me as much exposure I could have on this subject, until a week ago, when I purchased her debut book Remnants of a Separation. The book comes with 19 chapters,19 personal accounts Having followed Ms. Aanchal's work on Instagram for a couple of years now, I knew I was in for a treat with this one. I share no personal history with partition and Pakistan by extension, but for long this matter has intrigued me. That said, I thought Aanchal's Instagram, blog & the articles on Scroll, all have provided me as much exposure I could have on this subject, until a week ago, when I purchased her debut book Remnants of a Separation. The book comes with 19 chapters,19 personal accounts of people from three sides of the border: India; Pakistan; Bangladesh, and believe me you'll end up asking for more. In these 19 chapters, preceded by a splendid introduction, I found myself an invisible part of all these narratives. As though I was lurking behind the curtain, stealthily eavesdropping into the conversation. That was how personal experience was, and the nature of its subsequent impact. I found the words L-A-N-G-R-I-A-L, Lyallpur, Mianwali, subconsciously slip out of my tongue while reading Aanchal's narration. This is not merely a history or partition, a history of the material memory, but an insight into the lives that existed before the partition, the nuances of the languages, dialects, culture and the malleable nature of memory itself. It has been a while since I have read a non-fiction as good as this one.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Simran Sharma (Craartology)

    Aanchal Malhotra's Remnants is a treasure chest I am fortunate to have explored. A unique and novel idea to reminisce the great divide through material possessions that survived the horror of the same. Some mundane items and some heirlooms which later become the sole material belonging to the home on the other side. This book has experiences of people who have witnessed the "batwara" of the "British" India. With no clear border people were displaced from NWFP, Pakistan, Bangladesh and today's Indi Aanchal Malhotra's Remnants is a treasure chest I am fortunate to have explored. A unique and novel idea to reminisce the great divide through material possessions that survived the horror of the same. Some mundane items and some heirlooms which later become the sole material belonging to the home on the other side. This book has experiences of people who have witnessed the "batwara" of the "British" India. With no clear border people were displaced from NWFP, Pakistan, Bangladesh and today's India to new lands which were once part of the whole. The sole decision inflicted injustice to many and most. The culturally and economically strong provinces were plundered. Lahore, Jalandhar, Delhi and Calcutta to name a few. These stories have strong some beautiful facts that the people of today don't know. Peaceful co-existence and respect for other cultures/ religions was what this India taught it's people. Each story has pain, endearing memories of the "home" before the divide and a few material belongings to leave you teary-eyed. I've seen strength and the will to live with dignity, I've smiled with tears after reading instances of reunion with lost members of the family, finding old/ dear possessions or a chance to visit the REAL home years after the partition, I've witnessed honesty and the gratitude of simply being alive and safe - all throughout my journey with this book. The art of archiving is rare and sublime and definitely mastered by the author. If there's any book you want to read about India and it's partition then it's this...if you haven't read it, read it. It will surely take you where you plan to reach.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Thegoangirlreads

    “Hum yaad karte Jain toh jaan chali Jaati hai, mann karta hai zinda hi marr jaye“ I picked up ‘Remnants Of A Separation’ by ‘Aanchal Malhotra’ this month in honour of India Completing 73 years of Independence and in memory of the Partition, a calamitous event that affected the lives of millions. The book contains 21 stories of refugees through the focal point of an ‘Object’ that travelled across the border and the memories of the experiences that the ‘Object’ evokes to its owner. The author has don “Hum yaad karte Jain toh jaan chali Jaati hai, mann karta hai zinda hi marr jaye“ I picked up ‘Remnants Of A Separation’ by ‘Aanchal Malhotra’ this month in honour of India Completing 73 years of Independence and in memory of the Partition, a calamitous event that affected the lives of millions. The book contains 21 stories of refugees through the focal point of an ‘Object’ that travelled across the border and the memories of the experiences that the ‘Object’ evokes to its owner. The author has done justice to capture stories from across both the partition, Indo-Pak as well as Indo-Bangladesh. This methodology of storytelling and documenting history, I believe is unique and original to the Author. As you read the stories, you notice the consequences even today, in the form of trauma the refugees still live through, more than seven decades since the tragic event. These are unspeakable stories of nostalgia, pain, displacement, loss of identity, rage, penury, strength and survival. This book is not a light read. To do justice to the book and the experiences of the refugees, you need to take it one story at a time. When I first started reading the book, I couldn’t come to terms with the events and repercussions of the partition, and I could not go beyond a couple of pages in one sitting. “It is not religion, it is human nature, it is power that drives madness. . . . That’s what history tells us. In India,all the way from the north to the south, the east to the west, as people, we were reasonably peaceful - until the quest became for power. The empire dissolved, leaving us with an aching need to affirm our own nationhood - both India and Pakistan. It was power. Not religion. The hunger for power and authority is what drove us to madness.” - Lt Gen S.N. Sharma

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I found this book in the display section of my library in Decatur, Georgia, and was immediately intrigued for the following reasons: 1. I traveled to India 26 years ago. 2. I like books that talk about what an item means to someone. 3. I recently learned about the Partition from a woman whose grandparents were forced to leave their lands in what is now Pakistan. Though in her 40’s, she was upset that this legacy was no longer available to her family. I liked how the book was laid out. Each chapter w I found this book in the display section of my library in Decatur, Georgia, and was immediately intrigued for the following reasons: 1. I traveled to India 26 years ago. 2. I like books that talk about what an item means to someone. 3. I recently learned about the Partition from a woman whose grandparents were forced to leave their lands in what is now Pakistan. Though in her 40’s, she was upset that this legacy was no longer available to her family. I liked how the book was laid out. Each chapter was a complete retelling which made it possible to jump into the book and not have to refresh my memory. The stories were touching and sad at the same time. So much trauma was experienced. I also appreciated the glimpse into the every day life of Indians and Pakistanis. I kept my phone close to look up terms, languages, ethnic groups, historic moments and so much more that was unfamiliar to me. Wonderful work. I appreciate your dedication!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Naddy

    This year on Independence Day, I picked up Remnants of a Separation, on partition I have read very few books and I wanted to read something non-fiction. There are few books the moment you start you know it is going to be one of the best books you ever read. This book is tear-jerker, one of the masterpieces written very brilliantly. There are few thoughts which keeps on lingering after reading this book. It is generally said there is no place like Home, Home is a place where we feel it is place of This year on Independence Day, I picked up Remnants of a Separation, on partition I have read very few books and I wanted to read something non-fiction. There are few books the moment you start you know it is going to be one of the best books you ever read. This book is tear-jerker, one of the masterpieces written very brilliantly. There are few thoughts which keeps on lingering after reading this book. It is generally said there is no place like Home, Home is a place where we feel it is place of utmost comfort and security. Home is the starting place of love, hope, and dreams. The magical thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back. And one day you got to know that your home is at wrong end of line/boarder, you will have to leave your place of utmost comfort and never come back. There will be obvious thought you will come back it is just a phase which shall pass too soon. And who decides that line from where it start and where it ends has nothing to do with lives of people who were living comfortably in their mansions, havelis. You are not supposed to take anything with you, jewels, cash, it can all be ransacked on the way. There is no guarantee you will make it to other end, there are communal riots, there is bloodshed on the way. Even if you make to other end, how will you stand again, a common man took almost all his savings to make home and fill it with so many materialistic and non-materialistic memories. How can you leave that memories, and many people had to leave in such a haste, they did not have time to think what to pick what to leave behind? Remnants of Separation have 21 stories of such material memory which people pick intentionally, unintentionally, accidentally, while leaving their houses to save their lives. There are few stories which will make you believe there are good people at both ends of border. There are few stories which are so horrendous which will force to ask basic question was the Partition worth it. 21 objects will take you into Indian, Pakistani, Bengali and English homes, and by extension into the lives of those who lived before Partition, in Undivided India, giving us glimpses into a distant past. Each story speaks of emotions, a voice that is penned by author, there is honesty in each of the stories, there is extensive research about each story, there may be zillions of literature available on the partition but I don’t think there is any material memory literature written by any author. Each story will evoke empathy. These are stories which are necessary to be told to someone from our generation. “Every time the train stopped at a station, we would all hold our breath, making sure not a single sound drifted out of the closed windows. We were hungry and our throats parched. From inside the train we heard voices travelling up and down the platform, saying, “Hindu paani,” and, from the other side, “Muslim paani.” Apart from land and population, even the water had now been divided” “Migration is often accompanied by a feeling of unavoidable disorientation, and the circumstances of 1947 would have pronounced this feeling. In most cases, it would have created an involuntary distance between where one was born before the Partition and where one moved to after it, stretching out their identity sparsely over the expanse of this distance. As a result, somewhere in between the original city of their birth and the adopted city of residence, would lay their essence – strangely malleable.”

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adrija

    What an absolutely beautiful, breathtaking book! Remnants of a separation consists of 19 interviews of people who have been affected by partition. Each interview is carried out with respect to an item brought by them during partition. There are stories here which have filled me with hope and stories which have left me with a heavy heart. I can see myself picking up this book several times and rereading favourite bits from it. I was also lucky enough to meet the lovely author when I started this What an absolutely beautiful, breathtaking book! Remnants of a separation consists of 19 interviews of people who have been affected by partition. Each interview is carried out with respect to an item brought by them during partition. There are stories here which have filled me with hope and stories which have left me with a heavy heart. I can see myself picking up this book several times and rereading favourite bits from it. I was also lucky enough to meet the lovely author when I started this book which just made my experience a million times better. All in all, Remnants of a separation goes down as one of my most favourite books of all time and I strongly recommend it to everyone.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kaushik

    I'm from South India, and here, while we all know and discuss the partition - I don't think it is ingrained as a cultural memory for many of us. This book helped me understand a lot of things - how the partition ripped people apart - their lives, their livelihoods, families, land. Overnight, many people became refugees reduced to utter penury. Almost 72 years after independence, the generation which has seen the partition is slowly dying, with their children and grandchildren now growing up witho I'm from South India, and here, while we all know and discuss the partition - I don't think it is ingrained as a cultural memory for many of us. This book helped me understand a lot of things - how the partition ripped people apart - their lives, their livelihoods, families, land. Overnight, many people became refugees reduced to utter penury. Almost 72 years after independence, the generation which has seen the partition is slowly dying, with their children and grandchildren now growing up without those memories. The author's accounts have helped me understand how the effects of inter-generational trauma continue to affect people, how people cope; sometimes by forgetting and sometimes through silence. In addition, it provides a context to things that we probably just read as events (like say, the Mirpur Massacre, the Lahore Riots, the Japanese Bombings of Calcutta). Stories from both sides of the border were incredibly fascinating to read side-by-side. Another fascinating aspect was the concept of "material memory". Sure, things serve as anchors for memories. Simple, right? But, these things also take us back, give us an insight into precise moments of time, of private and collective memories, significances. The stories in this book surround everyday objects - shawls, a churning pot, plates and photos. Some are mementos, some are medals, some are weapons. But the object collects memories and histories as time passes - and that is something I found very fascinating. The notes for this book are a fascinating collection of archives, news reports and books that I think would help anyone who is interested in histories of the partition. I did have a gripe or two - I wish the book could go into people from lower socio-economic/caste strata, but the constraint of space is always there. If you are looking for an academic history of the partition, this is probably not the book for you. But if you want to know the people whose lives were shattered by what seems like a border, this is where you should start.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pratikshya Mishra

    As I read through the book, chapter after chapter of poignant memoirs, juggling between the text and the endnotes or references section, I am overcome with such powerful emotions of longing and loss. I am witness to a series of nostalgia, suffering, migration, and pain of so many people through this 400-page book, author Aanchal Malhotra’s careful, sensitive and emotional archiving of oral histories around The Partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947 through material memory. I belong to the As I read through the book, chapter after chapter of poignant memoirs, juggling between the text and the endnotes or references section, I am overcome with such powerful emotions of longing and loss. I am witness to a series of nostalgia, suffering, migration, and pain of so many people through this 400-page book, author Aanchal Malhotra’s careful, sensitive and emotional archiving of oral histories around The Partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947 through material memory. I belong to the third generation of those who lived during this Great Divide, an event that saw the largest mass migration in human history. And what meagre knowledge I had of the partition through history books, this work of non-fiction added greatly to my perspectives, through its tales from real people who had to migrate- from there place of belonging, their homeland, to a land that was considered safe according to their and was assigned to them. https://www.magic-moments.in/2020/05/...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Renata

    An attempt to revisit the Partition of India through objects carried by refugees as they crossed the border on both sides. Described as material memory, the author aims to identify belongings, mementos, gifts - things that people hurriedly picked up or chanced upon or happened to inherit - that hold memories of life in undivided India, and what those memories and objects mean to them now. An alternative history of the Partition viewed as a tangible event, the book can be described as a cross bet An attempt to revisit the Partition of India through objects carried by refugees as they crossed the border on both sides. Described as material memory, the author aims to identify belongings, mementos, gifts - things that people hurriedly picked up or chanced upon or happened to inherit - that hold memories of life in undivided India, and what those memories and objects mean to them now. An alternative history of the Partition viewed as a tangible event, the book can be described as a cross between history and anthropology, wonderfully researched and presented.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Debasmita Bhowmik

    This is an excellent book for everyone - whether you've read a lot about Partition, or even if you're just getting started. The personal touches to the anecdotes are sometimes piercing, and leave a lasting impression. The topic is intriguing, and the author explores the Partition through the objects in particular. My only complaint (and the reason this book did not get 5 stars from me) is that the writing is still raw and not completely refined. There are places where the author sounds a little r This is an excellent book for everyone - whether you've read a lot about Partition, or even if you're just getting started. The personal touches to the anecdotes are sometimes piercing, and leave a lasting impression. The topic is intriguing, and the author explores the Partition through the objects in particular. My only complaint (and the reason this book did not get 5 stars from me) is that the writing is still raw and not completely refined. There are places where the author sounds a little repetitive and redundant. But those are minor issues in an otherwise wonderfully rich and detailed book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    beautywithbooks

    First I would like to thank the publisher HarperCollins Publishers India for sending me this book to read. I love to read historical fiction and non-fiction books. This book is a treasure of memories from the Undivided India. Today we live in a free India, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis each stay in their own free country. But we never thought what is the price our ancestors had to pay for this. We don't know what they had to go through during the partition. Who had ever dreamt of an Divided India. First I would like to thank the publisher HarperCollins Publishers India for sending me this book to read. I love to read historical fiction and non-fiction books. This book is a treasure of memories from the Undivided India. Today we live in a free India, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis each stay in their own free country. But we never thought what is the price our ancestors had to pay for this. We don't know what they had to go through during the partition. Who had ever dreamt of an Divided India. Yes, talks were going on, but who ever thought that this will become a reality. For them it never mattered, if they were Hindu, Muslim or Sikh. All these people following different religion stayed in harmony. The cruel decision of dividing India happened quickly and hastily. Even the British was not ready for it. When the line was drawn on the Undivided India, it was not just geographically, but also a line was drawn in the lives of people dividing into pre and post independence phase. Neither Viceroy Mountbatten nor the leaders involved foresaw a mass movement of population across the borders following the geographical division. Families who had lived in a place for decades, who had ancestral property, suddenly after partition found themselves at the wrong side of the border. Suddenly they become a stranger to their very own birthplace. This was the most horrible phase of Indian history. People were not just physically displaced, they were uprooted from their own homes. They had to leave in hurry, leaving everything behind and go to a new place as a refugee. Few families took this just as a mere vacation to go to a new place across border and come back after the riots died. But got stuck at the other side, never to able to return to their homeland. Their empty houses being claimed by the refugees at both sides. This book is collection of 19 memories of those such families (which includes the author's grandparents as well), who stood witness to the Undivided India being partitioned, their mental trauma, the uprootedness, the heart wrenching horrible moments, which were locked away and never talked about. This book make us live those moments with the help of material memory. These materials or objects, few precious and few mundane, that survived the partition, were carried across the border hidden in the folds of the clothes or inside boxes in the hope to help them in the new land to start everything from scratch. These objects that were passed from one generation to other, makes those decade old memories tangible. We are the last generation to have lived with people who witnessed the crumbling of India in the name of partition. The memories shared in this book are not just any story or history, it is an insight to the lives, the culture, the dialects of people in Undivided India. And how these things are getting erased. The objects carried across border act as a link, holding the memories of Undivided India, to past life and the present. This book with the help of objects, carried across the border, tries to keep those memories safely archived. This book I would highly recommend to all the Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshi readers to understand the trauma of partition. And also because, it not only contain memories of families that moved to India after partition but also of families that moved to Pakistan and Bangladesh.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sumallya Mukhopadhyay

    Remnants of Separation, Aanchal Malhotra Human memory is a dangerous thing, wrote Milan Kundera, for one cannot be certain which image/event/information will have a lasting impression on your mind. Moreover, malleability of memory means that memory changes over time. It gets shaped, influenced and conditioned by the changing nature of the socio-political order, symptomatic of the institutionalized process of disbelief and denial promoted by the dominant ideology of a particular geopolitical loca Remnants of Separation, Aanchal Malhotra Human memory is a dangerous thing, wrote Milan Kundera, for one cannot be certain which image/event/information will have a lasting impression on your mind. Moreover, malleability of memory means that memory changes over time. It gets shaped, influenced and conditioned by the changing nature of the socio-political order, symptomatic of the institutionalized process of disbelief and denial promoted by the dominant ideology of a particular geopolitical location. That various facts concerning the Partition of South Asia have been purposely consigned into oblivion, and many others strategically distorted, inspires one to reconstruct the precarious domain of human memory. Aanchal Malhotra, while collecting objects that witnessed the Partition, opens up a new area of studying the event through material memory. She writes: “The memory buried within ‘things’ sometimes is greater than what we are able to recollect as the years pass. One understands her argument. After all, there is no denying that “memory dilutes”, to quote Malhotra, “but the objects remain unaltered”. She tries to understand migratory memory in a visceral way and highlights that it is not the idea of nation but of home that haunts those she interviewed. For instance, she draws the example of one Pirzada Abd-e-Saeed who added the suffix Pakistani to his name only to alter it after the Partition to Pirzada Abd-e-Saeed Jullunduri, carrying the identity of his lost home. The accounts presented in the book are characterized by a breezy, light commentary where the happenings are unfolded in a dialogical narrative. The frank conversational narratives, albeit personal and deeply political, are mostly intimate, depicting history of families that are centred on the Partition. The narratives comprises a colonizer’s viewpoint of decolonization, an orthodox Muslim’s love for India, a poet’s imaginative recollection of the events, a League activist’s opinion of Hindu-dominated India and also Malhotra’s own family history, interspersed by her own narrative voice. Her insightful account of the nuances of language of a generation that resided in undivided India is a point to reckon with. One can argue saying that, more often than not, Malhotra fails to appear as a detached narrator. Her writing is extremely emotional and, at times, this appears to be her weakness. But then, she almost presents herself as the co-author of the stories that she hears and this injects a distinct authenticity to her authorial politics.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zinnia Sheoran

    This is a very interesting and intriguing account of partition of India told in form of 19 stories, each story describing an heirloom or a gift that lived through the years of partition. Thus revisiting the historical exodus through material memory. While these objects survived the transition of time, circumstance and geography, each one of them also beautifully showcases extraordinary quirks and oddities of a dying generation that has seen a very tough period of our history. The Independence Day This is a very interesting and intriguing account of partition of India told in form of 19 stories, each story describing an heirloom or a gift that lived through the years of partition. Thus revisiting the historical exodus through material memory. While these objects survived the transition of time, circumstance and geography, each one of them also beautifully showcases extraordinary quirks and oddities of a dying generation that has seen a very tough period of our history. The Independence Day in 1947 came in with such speed and in the midst of such turmoil that there was little opportunity for either preparation or reflection. People locked their homes, packed minimal stuff thinking this is just for a month or two, and that they will be back home again. Little did they know that they would never return to their previous lives, never! Hence whatever they packed in their little suitcase was all that they had to remind themselves of a life they once lived. The physical displacement followed its victims with a traumatic mental displacement, a sudden up-rootedness, an unlearning and relearning of identity. It brought them a feeling of unavoidable disorientation. The Radcliffe Line forced people to leave behind a place where they were born, where they built their lives and where they tasted success. It brought them to a place where they knew nobody, had no home or money. It brought them an unavoidable tag of ‘Refugees’. Refugees accepted their fate and marched into their future. They focused on rebuilding their lives. They picked jobs, set up their businesses… moved from refugee camps to their own homes, and began a new life. Each story teller in this book is in their 80s or 90s. They gracefully open that suitcase they packed in 1947, revisit their past and tell us who they really were, because: ‘Remember that you never forget where you came from, because a part of that soil stays with you forever.’ A must read

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tanish Chachra

    The only thought that persisted with me while reading this book was that this is personal. Having all four of my grandparents crossing the border during the 1940s made me reminisce the stories they used to tell me of their homeland. On all 21 accounts, I could relate to the people narrating their stories, making my eyes moist on several occasions, considering among the people I love, few of them witnessed this traumatic series of communal divide and displacement. The above statements may make my The only thought that persisted with me while reading this book was that this is personal. Having all four of my grandparents crossing the border during the 1940s made me reminisce the stories they used to tell me of their homeland. On all 21 accounts, I could relate to the people narrating their stories, making my eyes moist on several occasions, considering among the people I love, few of them witnessed this traumatic series of communal divide and displacement. The above statements may make my judgement seem emotional, but the author Aanchal Malhotra did a great job in compelling me to connect with the stories of people I have never met, but share the same history. Also loved the sensitivity with which the author handled her respondents, acknowledging the trauma and even confessing where she felt she must've overstepped in pursuit of gaining their precious anecdotes. Overall, this book is a must read, as I feel it is not only a document on the Radcliffe divide but a feeling of nostalgia and pain of losing a home, and it couldn't have been done better.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mridula

    Novel in its approach and beautiful in its writing, Remnants of a Separation chronicles the the journey of people across the border (both ways) through individual examples. The generation that witnessed the Partition is dying and with it are dying the memories of the single-most important event in recent Indian history. These accounts have left me thinking that somehow, somewhere the violence associated with Partition was systematic and organised. Because everyone who has been interview in the b Novel in its approach and beautiful in its writing, Remnants of a Separation chronicles the the journey of people across the border (both ways) through individual examples. The generation that witnessed the Partition is dying and with it are dying the memories of the single-most important event in recent Indian history. These accounts have left me thinking that somehow, somewhere the violence associated with Partition was systematic and organised. Because everyone who has been interview in the book said that no one believed that Partition would actually take place and no one could believe the level of violence that it led to. But then again what can you say of mob mentality? Maybe everyone was gripped in the moment of violence and turned against the very neighbours with whom they had lived side by side. We need more such accounts to keep the memory alive.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Priya

    I read an excerpt of this book where the author speaks about how her grandfather's brother treasured a ghara(vessel) that his mother used to make lassi in and that she brought with her from Lahore to India after partition.I was immediately hooked by the premise because it evoked such a powerful image - remembering a time in the past and events that occurred then through objects of that time, particularly an event that caused as much heartache as the partition of India. What makes this a really po I read an excerpt of this book where the author speaks about how her grandfather's brother treasured a ghara(vessel) that his mother used to make lassi in and that she brought with her from Lahore to India after partition.I was immediately hooked by the premise because it evoked such a powerful image - remembering a time in the past and events that occurred then through objects of that time, particularly an event that caused as much heartache as the partition of India. What makes this a really poignant read is the fact that it gives us a glimpse into the lives of individuals directly affected by the horrendous aftermath of the partition in their own voice, through the medium of material memories, memories evoked by the objects they took with them when they were forced to move, often flee into the night, across the border. An arbitrary line drawn through the subcontinent, dividing it into two separate entities, took away everything from the families who found themselves on the 'wrong' side of the line. Whether they anticipated and planned for the move, knew about it but kept hoping it wouldn't happen and were shocked into accepting the truth or forced to flee for their lives, there was often very little they could take with them. A holy book, a loved one's favourite glass, kitchen utensils to cook food on the journey, a treasured strand of pearls, a jewel that was a family heirloom, a lovingly embroidered shawl.... these objects still hold memories for those who brought them. But these are not all pleasant. There is the heartbreak of leaving behind homes, treasured possessions, family heirlooms, property and above all everything familiar to them and going towards a future with absolutely nothing. The horror of recalling the communal riots, abuse and violation of women, bloodshed, burning down of houses by frenzied mobs and filling of trains with corpses that were sent across both sides of the border leaves the narrator, author and reader shocked beyond measure. Young girls being taught to kill themselves rather than risk violation, babies and young children left to fend for themselves, seeing family members hacked to death... these were just some of the unmentionable incidents that befell those fleeing. And yet, in the midst of all that cloud of horror, there were rays of sunshine in the form of humane acts that transcended religion with people helping their neighbors belonging to another faith escape, warning them about approaching dangers, safeguarding their property and many many such heartwarming gestures that spell hope and positivity even in the midst of such a catastrophic time. As the author tells of how she felt on hearing the accounts of people who suffered so much that they had to be coaxed to remember what they had pushed to the far recesses of their minds, she talks about the feeling of inherited loss, a feeling of despair for an experience that is not our own. When each of the people she speaks to talks about missing home, wishing they could have stayed where they were, wistfully wondering how life would have been if they could have gone back, I was able to feel their pain in the same way as if I myself went through the whole experience. The definition of home for scores of people just like us who were involuntarily separated from their own, the politics that wrenched them from a land they still consider their own, the intangible things they miss like the beauty of their land, their camaraderie with neighbors and their dreams for a future that was taken away, and the longing for a time that was can be keenly felt in each of the recollections. This isn't an easy book to read, filled as it is with goosebump raising instances of when humans failed other humans and gave in to their basest instincts. Much of it choked me up.But it is a must read for that very reason too because as the author says, there is a need to remember this disaster that caused millions so much grief. We must know what they went through. And this is a unique way of getting to know that. The author deserves to be lauded for taking up this daunting task of documenting memories that will surely be lost forever soon considering the age of most of the people who witnessed the partition. To coax them into recalling those terrible moments of so long ago so patiently and sensitively and then present those accounts in an unbiased manner that also brings out their pathos is indeed a very praiseworthy effort.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dhyanvi Katharani

    People often ask questions like: what would you grab if your house was on fire? What are the material possessions that you hold very dear to your heart? What are the things you cannot possibly live without? The Partition of India in August 1947 turned these what if questions into reality. People were forced to leave behind their houses, the familiar lanes of their cities, their culture, their people and their motherland. The book tries to analyse this dark period in our history through the objec People often ask questions like: what would you grab if your house was on fire? What are the material possessions that you hold very dear to your heart? What are the things you cannot possibly live without? The Partition of India in August 1947 turned these what if questions into reality. People were forced to leave behind their houses, the familiar lanes of their cities, their culture, their people and their motherland. The book tries to analyse this dark period in our history through the objects (a Gaz & Ghara, a Maang-Tikka, a photograph,a stone plaque and the like) that people managed to grab and throw in their suitcases as they left behind their lives. Some accidentally found their ways in the new country, utensils that acted as essentials in the refugee camps, jewels that were sold over the years and heirlooms passed down to next generations. When I picked up this book I had an idea about its subject but didn't possibly expect it to feel so personal. It felt like digging up a hole and finding the treasure of stories earlier inaccessible to me. It evoked my curiosity about my past, something that until recently was embedded with the collective baggage of the historical period, something I viewed from the safe distance of the years gone by. As the pages turned my eyes welled up story after story, maybe because before this I had only read fictional accounts of The Partition through stories of Manto and Ismat Chugtai which though based on real events felt unreal to my brain. This book showed me that our grand-parent’s generation buried this past somewhere deep in the recesses of their memories and moved ahead with what life had to offer next. By asking them questions Malhotra not only unearthed the stories for the readers, but also helped the storytellers process their past. When dealing with a topic so horrid it becomes extremely essential to be mindful of the words, the gestures, the shifts in tones and the nuances of varied languages. Malhotra has managed to capture this with utmost sensitivity and empathy which I think is the highest virtue of the book and the writer. As a second generation upper caste Hindu born after the Partition I feel I have inherited so many religious and caste prejudices and see so many instances of religious intolerance everyday that I might have to spend my twenties just unlearning all of them. Which is why what I found really hopeful was people talking about how these religious borders and differences didn’t exist a hundred years ago. How these micro instances of brotherhood and unity hold so much more hope and power than the communal hatred and riots. It showed me a pre-Partition secular India which we should all envision for the future.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Apurva Pandey

    Ever since we were kids, we have heard and read of the Great Divide. The Partion that sliced a subcontinent into two distinct nations, butchered its soul and dismantled this cohesive bond of oneness that laid the very foundation of our independence movement against the British. We have known about the partition since forever. We’ve watched gory depictions of it unfold on the silver screen, we’ve traced the genealogy of misplaced accents to it, we’ve waged political battles firing accusations or Ever since we were kids, we have heard and read of the Great Divide. The Partion that sliced a subcontinent into two distinct nations, butchered its soul and dismantled this cohesive bond of oneness that laid the very foundation of our independence movement against the British. We have known about the partition since forever. We’ve watched gory depictions of it unfold on the silver screen, we’ve traced the genealogy of misplaced accents to it, we’ve waged political battles firing accusations or fashioning defences over who was responsible for it. But even as the Great Divide lurks in the shadows of our national conscience, we have oddly relegated it to the archives of obvious history. It seems to have grown on us, so that no matter how we opine around it, it no longer horrifies us the way it should. I am thankful for this book because it horrified me. All these years, a mechanical instinct, fostered by 10th grade History books, propped up in me at the mention of Partition. One that told me that it was horrible. That people were killed and women abducted & raped. That people left their houses in the middle of the night empty-handed, never to return. That ghost trains arrived on either side of the border, loaded with bloody corpses and strangled hopes. That pathetic things happened. And that was it. So obvious, so mundane, just so there, out in the open. Except that it’s not. Have you ever truly, honestly, taken a moment to think about the partition? The incredulity of it? That it’s not as obvious and mundane as it has come to be? How fictitious it sounds? And how impossible it must have felt to those who lived in the midst of it? How they ran away in the middle of the night with nothing but a few utensils because they were obviously coming back? Because how could you partition a people on the basis of their religion when their lives were inseparably concocted together by bonds of language, cuisine, habits , geography and culture? Because how could a Hindu Sindhi be expunged from his beloved Sindh & banished to a new Hindustan, and how could there be a Hindustan without Sindh, when the former even traced its etymological roots to the latter? And how could there be a Lahore made obscure by a newly drawn border because “Jine Lahore nahin dekhya wo te jamiya hi nahi”? Remnants of a separation is a treatise on material history, it picks up objects people chose to carry with them as they crossed the border during partition, and attempts to evoke memories of the subjects through those very objects. It awes us as your everyday object brings to fore an avalanche of precious memories, memories that the author believes are our collective histories and rightly so. Collective histories that must be archived and treasured so that histories and horrors are not repeated. So that the truly horrific is crocheted on the fabric of our conscience in such meticulous detail, that no 10th grade history book can ever again simplify and mechanise it. So that every time we think of it, it evokes in us a true horror, a horror that shall hopefully guide us to love, peace and oneness.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aamna Hashmi

    Remnants of a separation is a treasure chest . A unique idea to novel the reminisce the great divide through material possessions that survived the horror of the partition of 1947 of the subcontinent into Pakistan and India . The mundane items and some heirlooms which later became the sole material belonging to the home on the other side . This book has the experience of the people who have witnessed the batwara and it’s isn’t easy as it’s said . These stories told by people who went through it Remnants of a separation is a treasure chest . A unique idea to novel the reminisce the great divide through material possessions that survived the horror of the partition of 1947 of the subcontinent into Pakistan and India . The mundane items and some heirlooms which later became the sole material belonging to the home on the other side . This book has the experience of the people who have witnessed the batwara and it’s isn’t easy as it’s said . These stories told by people who went through it , tells about what it was like when the batwara was announced as one of the stories in this book in which the narrators says that “jis pe bethi hai woh hie janata hai kay batwara asal mein kiya hai “ Stories told , show that how peaceful and co-existence and respect for other cultures and religions where maintained back then . Which doesn’t exists at all in the times today . Each story told has a pain of leaving home , as many narrators of the stories say , that no one can never forget there roots and where they come from , (apni mitthi apni hie ho tie hai) . The memories of home before the divide and a few material belongings to leave you teary eyed . In all the stories I have read , I have seen strength and dignity . I’ve smiled with tears after reading the reunions of family and finding the old and material possessions of a family in intact condition by any of the family member after visiting there respective home towns after partition in hope of getting hold of there possessions from there homes . I’ve witnessed honesty and gratitude of simply being alive and safe by all the obstacles came there way during partition .whether it was riots , violence or in human acts . It’s easier said that partition happened in 1947 , but behind that partition there has being a lot of suffering of leaving homes, separated by families , experiencing stuff that one must have never thought would happen to them . To start a new life in a country where you don’t know anything and is known as a refugee. But in the end being in a country where you have people who respect you and you have same morals , ethics , culture and religion .Matters the most so you can practice everything without being in a fear of being attacked. The partition wasn’t easy at all !

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pratibha Suku

    “Partition memory is particularly pliable. Within it, the act of forgetting, either inevitably or purposefully, seems to play as much a part as remembering itself.” “Memory dilutes, but the object remains unaltered.” “Migration is often accompanied by a feeling of unavoidable disorientation, and the circumstances of 1947 would have pronounced this feeling. In most cases, it would have created an involuntary distance between where one was born before the Partition and where one moved to after it “Partition memory is particularly pliable. Within it, the act of forgetting, either inevitably or purposefully, seems to play as much a part as remembering itself.” “Memory dilutes, but the object remains unaltered.” “Migration is often accompanied by a feeling of unavoidable disorientation, and the circumstances of 1947 would have pronounced this feeling. In most cases, it would have created an involuntary distance between where one was born before the Partition and where one moved to after it, stretching out their identity sparsely over the expanse of this distance. As a result, somewhere in between the original city of their birth and the adopted city of residence, would lay their essence – strangely malleable.” “The notion that where one is from can be understood using what remains of that place opens up a highly sensitive and rich terrain that can help unpack belonging, especially if that place has now been rendered inaccessible by national borders.” “A transference of memory was occurring as she, the vessel, the source, wrung every small, muffled detail into me, the depository. And once it began, it was difficult to interrupt or stop” A very well documented book. Each story is epic. Each story is touching. Each story is full of warmth. I had a great time reading this and later visiting her website- museumofmaterialmemory.com Do visit if you have a thing for history and old world charms you.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Akshay

    Rating 3.5 I am torn on this book kind of like the topic it deals with. Remnants of separation at its core keeps scope limited to objects people carried with them during partition focusing on sentimental values of those objects. Material merit memory is an interesting concept. Author narrates the stories as interviews / memory recollection exercises. In some cases these are effective and at other times you would want to get to the crux bit sooner. Some stories are light and heartwarming and some Rating 3.5 I am torn on this book kind of like the topic it deals with. Remnants of separation at its core keeps scope limited to objects people carried with them during partition focusing on sentimental values of those objects. Material merit memory is an interesting concept. Author narrates the stories as interviews / memory recollection exercises. In some cases these are effective and at other times you would want to get to the crux bit sooner. Some stories are light and heartwarming and some are gory and full of misery. Apart from the number of people migrated and killed in millions that we learn in history books - I don’t think there is a lot of material out there on the actual effects of separation on people. That’s why this book is special as it takes you on the journeys and showcases emotions. Some as grim and on your face as Saadat Hasan Manto’s stories. But the grim truth is - people will not learn lessons from their history. They will continue to unveil mob mentality and epitome of hatred every single time a ruler - be it a colonial divider or a fascist autocrat peddles hatred. People that look and dress similar, speak similar tongues, eat similar grains will turn against each other.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Divya Agarwal

    When i first saw this book scrolling through my instgram account, i felt a weird connect, like anyhow i have to read this book.i searched it all over small book shops and looked for its pdf, but failed to find it. Then a frnd gifted me this. And now when I have finished it, I know why was that feeling. I have never read such a book ever and I know I will never ever do. It's like a walking memoir of hundreds of people who suffered due to partition. It's the voices, pains, memories, feelings, emot When i first saw this book scrolling through my instgram account, i felt a weird connect, like anyhow i have to read this book.i searched it all over small book shops and looked for its pdf, but failed to find it. Then a frnd gifted me this. And now when I have finished it, I know why was that feeling. I have never read such a book ever and I know I will never ever do. It's like a walking memoir of hundreds of people who suffered due to partition. It's the voices, pains, memories, feelings, emotions and tales of our ancestors who live with us hiding the secrets deep in their Bossom. This book is a treasure which takes you back in past and haunts and torments u at places. This gets heavy too at times that i just pause for a while and stare at the wall. It teaches us gratitude of being safe and probably unknown to our brutal past. One of the best books I have read in ages.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anushka Bhatia

    Even though this book attempts to trace the tragic history of partition through material objects, you cannot help but get overwhelmed by the intangibles it brings to the forefront. The shared loss of one's homeland, the uprooting of families, the separation of loved ones and the end of life as one knew it. Every story is filled with horrors and also laden with warm memories. Each story is also unanimous in the disbelief that people shared about the partition. I hung on to every word the author w Even though this book attempts to trace the tragic history of partition through material objects, you cannot help but get overwhelmed by the intangibles it brings to the forefront. The shared loss of one's homeland, the uprooting of families, the separation of loved ones and the end of life as one knew it. Every story is filled with horrors and also laden with warm memories. Each story is also unanimous in the disbelief that people shared about the partition. I hung on to every word the author wrote, carefully and dutifully translating the stories that people who underwent this horrific time entrusted her with. Anyone who enjoys history interlaced with storytelling will love this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kumar Anshul

    First of all, thanks a lot to Harper Collins India for sending me a review copy of this book. To make things clear, this is not just another book invoking memories of partition. Remnants of a Separation is a unique and honest attempt to revisit the gory days of Partition through 'materials'- the objects that were carried by the refugees with them when they left their ancestral land and crossed the border. These objects range from jewellery, utensils, clothings and so on, remaining latent & undis First of all, thanks a lot to Harper Collins India for sending me a review copy of this book. To make things clear, this is not just another book invoking memories of partition. Remnants of a Separation is a unique and honest attempt to revisit the gory days of Partition through 'materials'- the objects that were carried by the refugees with them when they left their ancestral land and crossed the border. These objects range from jewellery, utensils, clothings and so on, remaining latent & undisturbed for generations. They are now testaments to the struggle, sacrifice, suffering and belonging of their respective owners. This actually started as an academic project, eventually converted into a book by author Aanchal Malhotra, who is an artist & oral historian and is a must read for history buffs. For more reviews, follow my blog on- www.thebooktrack.wordpress.com

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