All Passion Spent was launched recently in New Delhi by Zubaan in the author’s presence. The exchange with the author that followed was thought provoking and moving, not least because Zaheda Hina chose to speak in Urdu/ Hindustani in response to questions, after a brief reading from the novel. Her acknowledgement of the influence of Qurrutulain Hyder’s work, especially Aag ka Dariya’ (translated River of Fire’), was of particular interest, given that her novel engages with the difficult terrain of partition memories and the afterlife of partition violence in the subcontinent, with specific reference to the situation of divided Muslim families. While this subject had been addressed before by stalwarts of the Progressive era such as Khadija Mastur (Aangan, translated by Neelam Hussain as The Inner Courtyard’), what is distinctive about the novel under review is its breadth of reference, especially in the interweaving of the predicament of the Parsi minority in Pakistan in the plot.
The damage caused by the event of the partition to the shared grounds for coexistence and dialogue across civilizations is dramatized well in this narrative about the search for sanctuary by the young protagonist from India, Birjees Dawar Ali.