Headline, July 02 2020/ ''' '' HORROR EVERYONE'S HISTORY '' '''


 HISTORY '' '''

SADLY IF NOT STRANGELY - THE MEMORY OF THE BARBARITY AND BLOODSHED  unleashed a hundred years ago at the ''Jallianwala Bagh, on unarmed peaceful protesters craving freedom by -

By Brig Gen Reginald Dyer, has receded from the minds of the present day generations of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

MERA RANG DEY BASANTI CHOLA : 'Color My Robe Saffron' by the great master Hindi writer Bhisham Saani. Insha Waziri - who translated the original play retains the original flavor of the story of the real life Ratan Devi who is desperately searching for her husband after he doesn't come home in the evening.

Ratan Devi discovers her husband's dead body at the Bagh after the carnage is over and spends the whole night beside the corpse with a stick in hand to drive away the dogs and jackals looking for a feast.

A plaque commemorating her is on display at the small museum that was commissioned at the site after independence.

APRIL 13, 1919 : 1,650 ROUNDS OF LIVE AMMUNITION WERE FIRED without mercy on unarmed Indians at ''Jallianwala Bagh'' wreaking havoc.
The Bagh's narrow entrance was blocked as 50 soldiers from the Baloch and Gurkha regiments rained bullets on the crowd gathered there.

Curfew had already been imposed in the city, so even if any of the hundreds of wounded wanted to leave after the brutal act was over, they were just not able to move out of the premises where blood was flowing uninterruptedly. Thus, many of those who could have been saved succumbed to their injuries.

How closely literature can intertwine with history is aptly proved in the highly readable and soul-stirring volume : Jallianwala Bagh : Literary responses in Prose and Poetry, which has been compiled, edited and introduced by the eminent Delhi-based literary historian Rakhshanda Jalil. She has also translated some of the prose and poetry pieces contained therein.

The introduction by Jalil is highly informative, as it gives a background of the events leading to the appalling tragedy. The first piece in the book is 'An incident from 1919', a short story by Sadat Hassan Manto about a good-for-nothing fellow, Thaila Kanjar. He is the half-brother of two courtesans - one excels in singing and the other in dancing.

Thaila leads a group of protesters who demonstrate against colonial rule. He is hit by a bullet as he drags one of the two white soldiers from off a horse's back and tightens his palms around the fallen soldier's neck.

The soldier's stupefied colleague sprays a volley of shots on Thaila, but he cannot bring his dead colleague back to life.

Another odd character in the book is a fishmonger from Abdullah Hussein's magnum opus and Adamjee Award-winning Udas Naslein [The Weary Generations]. He has been a witness to the bloodshed. His narration is captivating and at times hair-raising.

Following that is an excerpt from eminent fiction writer and Columnist Khwaja Ahmed Abbas's English novel Inqilab. Laced with vivid description and an absorbing narrative style, the piece shows how two boys - Anwar and Ratan - drift with the crowd at Jallianwala Bagh, more out of curiosity than conviction.

The most moving moment comes when their guardian Ajit Singh - who had fought for the British in  World War 1 - gets up and says that he and his countrymen deserve a better deal in view of their support to the colonial power during the War. Much to everyone's horror, a ''Red-face'' silences Ajit forever with a well-aimed bullet. 

Ajit Singh would remind the reader of the fact that no less than 1.3 million Indians fought for their colonial rulers in World War 1, which as many as 74,000 lost their lives. There is no record of the many who returned alive, but not before being maimed.

Back to the volume under-review, one of the finest chapters is an excerpt from Chaman Nahal's novel : The Crown and the Lioncloth. It paints a vivid picture of the mind and thinking of the trigger-happy Dyer, who is born of British parents in India.

He hates the Indians, does not trust them and is convinced that ''inside their sweaty, slimy bodies, their heads simmered with intrigue. No matter the man was a  Hindu, Sikh or a Muslaman.''

Nahal introduces the fictional character of the urbane and well-educated Kenneth Ashby, who is shocked when Dyer says : ''These Indians are fir to be thrown to the wolves.'' Acting executive of Amritsar District, Ashby is poles apart from the rugged and cruel Dyer.

Nahal brings out the brutality, deeply embedded in Dyer's psyche, by narrating the instructions he gives to his subordinates before and during the massacre of Jallainwala Bagh.

The next chapter is what Jalil describes is an essay-like short story by the top-ranking fiction writer in Urdu, Krishan Chander. He maintains that Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs embraced martyrdom, as their blood mingled to form the sixth river in the land of five rivers, Punjab.

Another readable piece is Those who Crawled, a translation of an Urdu short story by Ghulam Abbas, when a British Christian missionary woman was attacked by a local mob but saved by the residents of the houses in the narrow lane where the action takes place.

Her compatriots don't reward her saviors. Instead they see to it that all those passing through the lane have to crawl on their bellies to reach their destination.

FOUR WOMEN : two Muslims, one Hindu and One Sikh - lay down their lives by refusing to obey the order.

The Honor, Serving and Sadness of past History and Colonial Actions, continues. The World Students Society thanks review author Asif Noorani.

With respectful dedication to the Students, professors and Teachers of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and then the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011:

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Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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