Jallianwala Bagh: Literary Responses in Prose & Poetry Edited by Rakhshanda Jalil
Published by: Niyogi Books
Rating: 4/5 stars
Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the butchering of unarmed innocents, is a historic event that haunts the human mind even after the lapse of a century. 1650 rounds fired in a matter of ten minutes, the blocking of exits, preventing help reaching the injured are all acts of unmitigated bestiality.
Through a selection of prose and poetry – the direct outcome of this horrific event and an introduction that traces the history of events leading to the massacre – Rakhshanda Jalil, a literary historian and translator from Urdu and Hindi, attempts to open a window into the world of possibilities that literature offers to reflect, interpret and analyse events of momentous historical import. The selection offers ways of ‘seeing’ history, of exploring how an incident that stirred the conscience of millions, found its way through pen and paper to reach the nooks and crannies of popular imagination filtered through the mind of the creative writer.
The acknowledged doyens of Indian literature featured in this volume include Saadat Hasan Manto, Mulk Raj Anand, Krishan Chander, Abdullah Hussein, Bhisham Sahni, Ghulam Abbas, Subadhra Kumari Chauhan, Sarojini Naidu, Sohan Singh Misha, Muhammad Iqbal, Josh Malihabadi, Nanak Singh, to name a few. A collection that can pave the way for further research.
About the author:
Rakhshanda Jalil is a writer, critic and literary historian. Her published work comprises edited anthologies, among them a selection of Pakistani women writers entitled, Neither Night Nor Day; and a collection of esssays on Delhi, Invisible City: she is co-author of Partners in Freedom: Jamia Millia Islamia and Journey to a Holy Land: A Pilgrim s Diary. She is also a well-known translator,
Thank you for Niyogi Books for this copy. All opinions are my own.
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre that took place on 13 April 1919 is a defining moment in India’s history. Apart from the number of lives lost and grievous lost, this act of firing on unarmed civilians is cited as the trigger for many moderate Indians who did not take a stand to abandon their loyalty to the British and become nationalists who were distrustful of the British.
This book by Rakhshanda Jalil is brilliantly put together bringing a collection of how the Jallianwala Bagh massacre is reflected in literature in the form of prose and poetry. In her foreword, the author says ‘Politics and history are said to be interwoven but not commensurate. The same can be said for politics and literature,’ setting the tone for the stories that are included in the collection. Comprising of two parts: fiction and poetry, the sum total of this book is a deeply poignant capture of the moods and sentiments as inspired by the real life event. There are short stories and excerpted chapters from novels besides a play. Some of the best names of Indian literature make it to this collection – Saadat Hasan Manto, Mulk Raj Anand, Krishan Chander, Bhisham Sahni, Ghulam Abbas, Subadhra Kumari Chauhan, Sarojini Naidu and Muhammad Iqbal to name a few.
The stories and the poetry in this collection will take you to the narrow lanes leading to Jallianwala Bagh, the nationalist stirrings amongst the people of Punjab and other parts of the country, the events that led to the massacre and the trauma of loss and anger over the incident. Recommended.