TWO-Gulzar // A book review by Iqra Aziz
Gulzar is the nom de plume of the most astute and intellectual mind of the then British Indian Subcontinent that has been strangled into Pakistan and India. Sampooran Singh Karla known as “Gulzar Saab” in the literary world is the aboriginal of the “ONE” subcontinent that has been bifurcated into “TWO” countries. The birthplace of Gulzar Saab (18 August ,1934) is Dina ,in the city of Jhelum, Pakistan. He has migrated to India with his family, after the Independence cum Partition of British Indian Subcontinent. Being a man of multiple talents and an all rounder person , Gulzar has earned fame, respect and success with flying colors. Aged 85, he is a film director, lyricist, screenwriter, producer, poet and an author. He has, in his credit, a total of thirty six noble category awards. The writing medium of Gulzar is Urdu lingua but the enriching quality of his works has paved the way for transliteration.
The trans-literal post colonial novel “Two” is all about the grim and harsh realities of the Partitioning of Indian Subcontinent. This partition movement is probed and anatomized by the lens of Refugees known as Sharanarthis. The book explores about the psychic traumas and identity crisis of the refugees after the partition. It highlights the issues of settling down of refugees after the havoc and chaos of partition. Seventy years have passed but till now the refugees are in process of settling down with their nostalgic minds ,broken hearts and down trodden lost identities. These common people have suffered the wrath of partition that has crushed millions of innocent lives .These refugees are both physically and metaphorically in search of a place called home .
The story opens in the winter of 1946 ,when the subcontinent has not yet been partitioned but the natives have started drifting apart. Amidst the atmosphere of ambiguous uncertainties , Lakhbeera’s dhaba is the only sitcom for the townsmen and denizens of Campbellpur city to discuss the scuttlebutts, rumors, events and news about the partition of Indian subcontinent. As the independence movement comes nearer, the hustling and bustling city of campbellpur turns into a ghost city. The cataclysmic events of partition are explored by a group of refugees who have taken ride in the truck driven by Fauji – the bastard of the Nawab of Jaunpur . The truck of Fauji loads the “to be refugees” and all of them have a story of their own. Lakhbeera , a sikh runaway from home and a true comrade of Fauji is the owner of dhaba in campbellpur. He meets his death while migrating for the safe haven across the border. The old Tiwari couple and their widowed daughter in law Kanta with her son Guddu. Panna – the prostitute, Soni and Moni – the rape victim twin sisters, Kakka and his grandfather and the family of Lala ji –Rai Bahadur.
Moni becomes pregnant carrying the child of her rapist. She ends up in the mental asylum after killing that newborn. Soni is left all alone in the Amritsar gurdwara. Kakka – Kartar Singh is adopted by Panna ,who takes her in Kanpaur. Kartar Singh in 1970’s meets his end in war mobbed streets of Delhi during anti-sikh riots. Lala ji is killed during the camp lootings but his son Jaipal survives and fate takes him to the land of England. Fauji, finds his place in a graveyard in Kashmir and witnesses the Kargil episode in the last years of his life. Likewise, is the terrible fate of Master fazal and Master Karmat Singh of Campbellpur middle college. In short, Gulzar has summarized this partition trauma and division of One into Two in the following lines;
Painde lambe ne lakiran de
Umar de hisaab muk gaye
Totey labbe taqdiran de
Kisse lambe ne lakiran de
Long are the passages of borders
One has lost count of age
Gathering the pieces of fate
Long are the stories of partition…
The contents include a foreword by Gulzar himself, Introduction by Pavan K. Varma, Part one is before partition, Part two is the refugee movement, Part three is after partition lives of refugees lost souls, Part four is about insights and interviews. Total pages are 175 and published by HarperPerennial in 2017. Transliteration is by Sukirta, Shantanu and Gulzar himself.
TWO-Gulzar // A book review by Iqra Aziz