In her piece, ‘The Distance to Lahore’, Surjit Sarna, with a deep sense of nostalgia and sadness, asks the pointed question somewhat helplessly: ‘What wrong had we done that we were being made to suffer the consequences of the wrong decisions of our leaders? Our generation has borne this tragedy of history! I will never forget you Lahore, I’ll never forget you…’ If only the citizens subject to questionable political decisions had the wherewithal to deal with such decisions, many historical tragedies may have been averted! With a sense of helplessness, Maddi, a character in ‘Ointment’ by Sanwal Dhami, laments: ‘…We murdered the centuries old bonding between the people, by listening to some unknown, unseen people. Today, when we are face to face with the consequences, we now realize how cozy and warm our nests were at that time! Now, I have come to understand the pain of birds who lose their nests…’The sixteen short stories by leading Punjabi writers on the Partition contain not just the inevitable themes of dispossession, the trauma of separation, conflicting loyalties, and selfishness for survival but also portray exemplary courage in the face of tremendous odds and extraordinary acts of kindness besides the human capacity for cruelty.mai.
February 2018, volume 42, No 2