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Book Review: From Quetta to Delhi by Reena Nanda

As said that the book is a partition story. Well, in reality, this non-fiction book is about family history of a Punjabi family that had to move again and again from one place to another for all reasons that they could not control. The story has been narrated from a woman’s point of view, Shakunt. The story is back staged against two to three different landscape of once belonged to one nation/region. In prominence, the story is about loss and memories. Through the narration, Shakunt relives the days of her life she spent as a once settled family and then as migrants.

The book is full of Punjabi jargons, poems, and rises to imminent heights when it comes to delivering the real Punjabi culture of that era and region. It has been referred as Punjabiyat, much antithesis to what we see today in the Bollywood movies like Singh is King, etc.

Quetta was a city in Baluchistan region when there was no India and Pakistan partition. Basically, it was a Punjabi dominated region, however other people like Hindus, Sindhis, Pathans, etc. also lived together for thousand years. Due to political leaders, when it was decided that the region (probably that time also known as Hindukush) will be divided into two nations based on the religions, that time took toll on people’s lives. That was the time when Shakunt’s family suffered loss of lives, property, unity, cultural harmony and more. They had to leave everything behind to come to Delhi – where they had to start things afresh. But how someone who lived and got up in Quetta for years – there they build things – can leave everything all of sudden just to please the political leaders ’solipsism. It was hard – what was hard? It all has been described in this book – change of feelings and attitudes under the political influence.

Though there were many books on partition, but this one covers more events to its name, like the migration of a family from Jhang to Quetta in 1897, and then from Quetta to Delhi in 1947. In a nutshell, the book is more to a just partition story full of sanguinary events. There was everything in this book but in a subtle way. The writer is Punjabi, thus she was able to relate and write more. It is a good book for history lovers.


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