Mapmaking: Partition Stories From Two Bengals brings together renowned writers from Bangladesh and West Bengal including Ritwik Ghatak, Hasan Azizul Haq, and Manik Bandopadhayay. It is a unique attempt to see how Partition has shaped the narrative of the two regions that share a common language, culture and heritage. Many of these stories appear in English for the first time and carry the evocative, ironic tone that is exclusive to Partition stories from the East.
An infidel sinks to the bottom of a shallow river, looking for oysters and his lost wife
A man takes three years to bring himself to make a forty five minute journey, only to find his love has flown the nest
Two heavily pregnant women are forced to flee their country – one gives birth on a train and the other is silenced for ever.
These haunting narratives question the finality and resolution of Partition, the insufficiency of memories, and the instability of borders. As the stories unfold a tragic tale of the loss of a world, we once again come to witness how every time narratives of the Partition are re-told, they point towards our changing values, our present, and our future.
In the Foreword, Ashis Nandy, in his inimitable style explains the hegemony of silence on Partition: Perhaps the principal reason for the desperate refusal to work through the memories of 1946-48 is that these memories do not genuinely fit our acquired concepts of nationalism, progress and the state. They demand a different approach to the dominant ideas of governance and statecraft, to mass violence and resistance to it at grassroots.
Debjani Sengupta teaches Literature at Indraprastha College, New Delhi. She has edited the entire translation of Suchitra Bhattacharya’s novel Dahan and has translated stories from Bangla.
Ashis Nandy is a Senior Honorary Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, an eminent cultural critic, scholar and prolific writer. His recent books include An Ambiguous Journey to the City: The Village and Other Odd Ruins of the Self in the Indian Imagination