Synopses & Reviews
In their rich diversity of languages, religions, traditions, and ethnicities, the two billion people in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are unmatched in the world. For nearly a century, Britain directly ruled the region as a colony. But when the British hastily departed in 1947, giving India and Pakistan independence, communities that had lived side by side in relative peace were torn apart by unfathomable sectarian violence. The stories in Crossing Over depict the responses and emotions of ordinary people caught in a tragic turning point in history, when tolerance, respect, and compassion broke down. Written by some of the region's finest writers, these works make us aware that such responses are not exclusive to South Asia. They are possible everywhere.
For nearly a century, Britain ruled the SouthAsian subcontinent from the Arabian Seato the Bay of Bengal. After World War II, however, the vast Indian colony becameungovernable from London and the Britishhastily departed, leaving behind conditionsthat led to communal rioting and unfathomableviolence. In the midnight hours ofAugust 14, 1947, as hastily drawn borderscarved the region into the independentnations of Pakistan and India, more thana million people fled across the lines ofPartition in both directions. In 1971, whencivil war transformed East Pakistan into theindependent nation of Bangladesh, communalviolence erupted again. The horrors ofPartition did not end with the migrationsand resettlements of 1947 and 1971, however.On several occasions, open warfare hasbroken out between Pakistan and India.Kashmir s borders remain in dispute, andacross the region, rioting continues to erupt.
The stories in Crossing Over depict theresponses and emotions of ordinary peoplecaught in the tragedy of Partition, whentolerance, respect, and compassion brokedown. Written by some of the region s finestauthors in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, andEnglish these works make us aware of thepossible responses to ethnic, religious, andnational divisiveness. Reading the literatureof Partition is bound to arouse comparisonswith situations in other parts of the world, where sectarian violence seems unstoppableand solutions intractable. Where will we findthe wisdom to create a new future? CrossingOver suggests some answers and the consequencesif we fail.
Authors include Abul Bashar, SamareshBasu, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Urvashi Butalia, Gulzar, Rashid Haider, Intizar Husain, Kamleshwar, Saadat Hasan Manto, KhadijaMastur, Joginder Paul, Mohan Rakesh, Prafulla Roy, and Bhisham Sahni. Periodphotographs from a Karachi family albumillustrate the effects of Partition on a GoanCatholic community.