I got my hands on the much-awaited Book 2 in the partition trilogy last week – HYDERABAD. When Blogchatter posted this book for a review, I quickly signed up as I loved LAHORE and was looking forward to reading it.
Many who look at the title HYDERABAD in combination with the word ‘partition’ may probably think it is about the city of the same name in Pakistan. But no….it is about our own Hyderabad. How many of you know that our Hyderabad was not part of Independent India initially? If you didn’t, this book gives you a very realistic, yet fictionalized version of those times. Though our history books do not detail this, I had read about the accession of Hyderabad to India. But this book gave me a more detailed pulse of how bad things were in the ‘belly of India’ as the author says. LAHORE was expected as we all have heard stories of the partition. HYDERABAD was a revelation.
As with the previous book, this one too has parallel stories – of India’s Government and the people who run it; of Hyderabad, the Nizam, the royal family & his associates; of Jaabili and the Communists. All these slowly come together over the 51 chapters and finally give you a Hyderabad that is a part of India.
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Though fictional, the book uses real-life characters. The bond between Bapu, Sardar, Nehru & Mountbatten is well captured. Though each of them has different approaches to handling the accession of Hyderabad, they also respect each other’s views and come together for the love of India and the betterment of her people. Maybe our current lot of politicians can learn a thing or two from this and put aside personal & party preferences for the greater good of the nation.
The story of the insanely rich Nizam with his shabby clothes & palace can be taken as an indication of things that are outdated and falling apart in the state. The Nizam by all accounts seems to be a good man – fostering the initial brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims, encouraging freedom of expression and dressing to the women, and wanting to do what is good for his people. But he is also blinded by his need to cling to his legacy and a continued Muslim rule in the state. Taking advantage of this, are people like Kasim Razvi who want to further their own agendas. Ultimately, it is this placing of faith in the wrong people that brings down the Nizam.
Then there is my favorite – the story of Jaabili, who is enslaved and who decides to break free for a better life of equality. Her observations on many things are accurate – it is not just religion that divides us, but also the caste & class systems within the same religion; how though she joined the Communists aspiring for equality, there are stereotyped roles for men and women. Daniyal comes as a breath of fresh air for her but sadly their love story is cut short. I must say I was a bit disappointed with the abrupt end to their story.
Then there is a surprise connection to LAHORE – the story of Beli Ram and Pammi. Both are re-introduced briefly. Maybe to show continuity between both books. Again, I feel this could have been explored a bit more and not be mere mentions.
I was also surprised by how I felt about certain things when I read the book – how Uzma’s snitching didn’t feel like a betrayal, yet Raj Kumar’s did. How I grudgingly respect Razvi, who though a cunning fellow stood with the side he had chosen till the end. A line by him towards the end inspires me – “Shall we be destroyed? That is up to them. Shall we be defeated? That is up to us.” A good lesson for all of us, that not getting what we want does not mean we are beaten.
Though fictional, the book bears testament to the in-depth research of the author Manreet Sodhi Someshwar. The storytelling is gripping. Even the parts of contemplation or just conversations actually build up to the storyline and show the bond between people. Though India succeeds in including Hyderabad in the end, it is not jubilation that one feels. It is the senseless loss of life and displacement of her people that hits you. The author brings this out beautifully.
I loved LAHORE and HYDERABAD was a worthy successor. Looking forward to soon reading KASHMIR. Though fictional, it is a wonderful way to read about the history of one of the darkest times of our independence.
Personally, I feel the partition was the biggest mistake made. In many ways, it paved way for an ‘us-v/s-them” situation. We have not learned from history at all. We cut India up and still continue to do so in the name of God, religion, caste, class, and more. Will we ever learn?
Title : Hyderabad – II of The Partition Trilogy
Author : Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
Publisher : Harper Collins India
Category : Historial Fiction
Language : English
Available On : Amazon.in Kindle Edition & Paper Back
Rating By The Scarlett Dragonfly : 4.5 / 5