Memories of loss

Rita Kothari teaches Communication and Culture at the Mudra Institute Of Communications, Ahmedabad. Her recent book from Penguin, Unbordered Memories brings to light a hitherto unexamined consequence of partition along the long border that separates Pakistan from India.

"If Partition changed the lives of Sindhi Hindus who suffered the loss of home, language and culture, and felt unwanted in their new homeland, it also changed things for Sindhi Muslims. The Muslims had to grapple with a nation that had suddenly become unrecognizable and where they found themselves to be second-class citizens. Not used to the Urdu, the mosques and the new avatars of domination, they were bewildered by the new Islamic state of Pakistan. Sindh as a nation had simultaneously become elusive for both communities.

In Unbordered Memories we witness Sindhis from India and Pakistan making imaginative entries into each other’s worlds. Many stories in this volume testify to the Sindhi Muslims’ empathy for the world inhabited by the Hindus, and the Indian Sindhis’ solidarity with the turbulence experienced by Pakistani Sindhis. These writings from both sides of the border fiercely critique the abuse of human dignity in the name of religion and national borders. They mock the absurdity of containing subcontinental identities within the confines of nations and of equating nations with religions. And they continually generate a shared, unbordered space for all Sindhis— Hindus and Muslims."

Earlier books by Kothari include The burden of refuge: The Sindhi Hindus of Gujarat that was published a few years ago by Orient Longman, an edited collection of stories, Speech and silence: literary journeys by Gujarati women (Zubaan Publishing, 2006), and Translating India: the cultural politics of English translation (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Unbordered Memories is in our Culture section. Paperback, 200 pages, Rs 250. ISBN: 9780143063650