The Partition of 1947 inspired works of poetry, which are pieces of mass reflection from the artistic and literary giants of South Asia. 70 years of Partition inspired poetry has documented the human experience of heartbreak, love and resilience.
Authors and poets like Saadat Hasan Manto, Khushwant Singh, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Sahir Ludhianvi amongst countless others used their pens to permanently ink in their histories, their accounts and their perspectives on the partition and the era surrounding it. Through fiction we are presented with arguably unbiased opinions, detached from nationalist and party-led sensibilities, offering an honest and personal insight into reality.
Josh Malihabadi expresses his melancholy at the departures and migrations that arose as a product of the Partition:
کِھلتی تھی جن سے دل کی كلی جوش!
کيسے وہ لوگ ہو گۓ ناياب
Oh Josh! People we found so congenial/ Why, if unfortunate, they had to depart.
Common themes among partition literature are religious identity: often presented as irrelevant in the ‘madness’, or the conflict between groups as representing a loss of internal and external piety, and dislocation: artists using their words to air a sense of nostalgia, longing and disillusionment with space itself. Manto expresses this through a blatant disregard for place names and technicalities, focusing instead on fluid community lines and shared cultures.
Kushwant Singh’s train to Pakistan became a prominent piece of literature called upon till today as an important insight to the partition.
“According to the Hindus, the Muslims were to blame. The fact is, both sides killed. Both shot and stabbed and speared and clubbed. Both tortured. Both raped.”
― Khushwant Singh, Train To Pakistan
Reflecting on the moment of Independence and creation of Pakistan, Faiz Ahmed Faiz stated:
‘..Woh intezaar tha jiska, yeh woh seher to nahin.’
What we had anticipated, this is not that break of dawn.
Who are your favourite poets? What are your favourite pieces on the partition? Share this in the comments section below.