Khushwant Singh is a legendary figure in Indian history of literature. He is the high priest of journalism. He is a free thinker and an international celebrity as well. He is also known as a lawyer, critic and columnist. He is a prolific writer and historian too. Sometimes he is regarded as a controversial writer but at the days end he is a writer who can tie up a reader to last. Khushwant Singh was born in 1915 in village Hadali in Khushab district Sargodha, Punjab. Now the place is in Pakistan. He was from a well-to-do family. His father Sir Sobha Singh had made his money as builder and contractor who was responsible for constructing many buildings in and around what is today New Delhi. Lady Varyam Kaur was his mother. Khushwant Singh attended modern school. But he was not good at study and very often he used to get zero in Arithmatic. However he excelled in Urdu. It was perhaps an early streak of a writer in him. In later days he attended Government College in Lahore. And afterwards as his family was quite rich he was sent to king's college, Cambridge and the inner Temple in London.
'Train to Pakistan' is a novel by Khushwant Singh which is a landmark in Indian history of literature. The Partition of India in 1947 marked a season of bloodshed that stunned and horrified those living through the nightmare. Entire families were forced to abandon their land for resettlement to Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India. It was a horrible experience for all the human beings who were present there. Travelers clogged the roads on carts, on foot, but mostly on trains, where they rested precariously on the roofs, clung to the sides, wherever grasping fingers could find purchase. Muslim turned against Hindu, Hindu against Muslim, in their frantic effort to escape the encroaching massacre. But the violence followed the refugees. The indiscriminate killing infected the countryside. There was a futile attempt to reach safety. Almost ten million people were assigned for relocation and by the end of this bloody chapter nearly a million were murdered. Women were raped before the pained eyes of their husbands, entire families robbed, dismembered, murdered and thrown aside like garbage until the streets were cluttered with human massacre. The situation cannot be explained in words. The scenes from that era is so humiliating that till now it can bring tears to anyone's eye. The trains kept running. Those trains were used to carry the passengers including Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and quasi-Christian. There had been rumors of the arrival of the silent 'ghost trains' that moved quietly along the tracks, grinding slowly to a halt at the end of the line, filled with slaughtered refugees.
When the first ghost train came to Mano Majra the villagers were stunned. Abandoning chores, they gathered on rooftops to watch in silent fascination. With the second train, they were ordered to participate in burying the dead before the approaching monsoons made burial impossible. But reality struck fear into their simple hearts when all the Muslims of Mano Majra were ordered to evacuate immediately, deprived of property other than what they could carry. The remaining Hindus and Sikhs were ordered to prepare for an attack on the next train to Pakistan, with few weapons other than clubs and spears. The soldiers controlled the arms supply and would begin the attack with a volley of shots. When the people realized that this particular train would be carrying their own former friends and neighbors, they too were caught, helpless in the iron fist of history, save one disreputable dacoit whose wife sat among her fellow refugees. The dacoit was Hindu and his wife was Muslim. The story builds impressive steam as it staggers toward destiny, begging for the relief of action.
Train to Pakistan is written by Khushwant Singh, it was a best seller when it was published in 1956 for the Pakistan. Later it was published by the Grove Press in the year of 1994 which is a horrified tale the refugees in the 1947 India-Pakistan partition. .
(Last Updated on : 06-01-2009)
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