Seeing the Partition from the eyes of a child3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
With Independence Day just around the corner on August 15, Owliver has a special recommendation for all you book lovers.
August 15, 1947, was marked by India becoming free from British rule, but also saw the tragic ‘Partition’ take place that split India from Pakistan. This event tore apart families and sparked a cultural, political and religious divide between the neighbour countries.
Hold up: Test your knowledge with this simple Indian history question: Do you know who the main spokesperson for the partition was?
*Hint: It’s the person on the extreme right corner.
This feeling of chaos is put beautifully into words by Veera Hiranandani, whose book, The Night Diary, captures the Partition from the eyes of a little girl.
In 1947 India, the only place half-Hindu, half-Muslim twelve-year-old Nisha feels that she has a voice, is her diary. She addresses every entry to ‘mama’ (mother), who died when Nisha and her twin brother Amil were born. She begins writing her diary in July 1947, when there is tension in the air. Soon, even going to school becomes risky!
The diary becomes a lifeline when Nisha’s family (considered Hindu) is forced to leave home after the Partition of India suddenly places their peaceful city of Mirpur Khas in the newly-created Muslim state of Pakistan.
Hiranandani has brought up this sensitive, world-altering event through the eyes of a perceptive, observant child. Some bits get a little too real, but do justice to the turmoil at the time. For example, during Nisha’s hard journey, she is threatened at knifepoint!
Interestingly, the book, though a work of fiction, is based on the memories of the author’s own father, who had to flee from his home under similar circumstances during Partition. In the author’s note, she says her father, with his parents and siblings, had to travel across the border from Mirpur Khas to Jodhpur, just like her main character.
Will you give this book a read in time for Independence Day? You can buy the book here. Let us know what you think!
Suitable for: 10-13 age group
Author: Veera Hiranandani
Pages: 272 pages
Owliver’s score: 3.5/5
Photos: AP, veerahiranandani.com