Monday, October 8, 2012

Ideas of Nation in Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa

In our novel Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa a new nation is forming out of the colonized India. This new nation is to be called Pakistan. As the novel progresses, the abstract idea of the not-yet formed nation is essentially a fabrication for the time being. Cracking India demonstrates the idea nationalism by storytelling within a large base of characters. All of whom represent a different nationality whose citizens share equal rights to the new “nation” of Pakistan. For our protagonist Lenny, the idea of a new nation is beyond her own comprehension for quite some time as she grows up in the changing world that is about to be divided. She faces many of the perils of being colonized in a “melting pot” of different people and religions but to a child’s eyes they do not seem as significant. However, all at once Lenny is struck by the change she sees in the people around her. “It is sudden. One day everybody is themselves- and the next day they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian. People shrink, dwindling into symbols. Ayah is no longer just my all-encompassing Ayah she is also a token. A Hindu (Sidhwa 105).” This quote is especially significant in representing the fabrication of a nation. In the dictionary, fabrication is defined as a “deliberately false or improbable account.” This is interesting because as talks of a new independent nation really begin, no one is truly sure of whom the power will be with. Will it be the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, or Christians? Therefore, many people begin talking and lies and rumors spread quickly, which is why Lenny’s people, the Parsee’s, agree to follow whoever has the power.  All the different religious communities in India fight for power over the intangible new nation as the story gets bloody. The idea of a new nation and the struggle for control overrides the fact that these people all used to be friends and family before they all became greedy and power hungry. This is especially significant because the nation hasn’t even been truly formed yet. There are no set aspects by which to govern the new nation and there is no wonder there is such a struggle for power.  A nation cannot even become real until it has a governing body. As the story picks up, people in Imam Din’s village are beginning to be evacuated to make way for the new nation. Bombings and attacks being happening in Lenny’s village and her family and friends are suffering, over seemingly nothing because there is no nation. There is no Pakistan yet. Nothing about the new nation is stable enough to sustain a population peacefully. All-in-all the idea of the new nation drove people mad with desire. This desire was fueled by the possibility that their people (religion) could be in control and finally live the way they want without being told what to do. However, even if one group does gain control, and they begin making laws the way they want them to be, wouldn’t that technically be a form of colonization? The only difference is that it is “said” that the other people are independent and that it is ideally an “independent” country, but with so many different religious groups, just one in sole control could cause the rest of religious groups that also have a rightful claim to the new nation of Pakistan to live in persecution of their beliefs, values and ways of life.

Sidhwa, Bapsi. "11." Cracking India: A Novel. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 1991. 105-06. Print.

This video was a project made by a student studying the revolution of the nation of India. The video is a timeline that expresses through picture, video, and text, all or at least some of the important moments in Indias formation.  I liked the video because it gives us an idea of what was going on in India in each of the important years. In relation to our novel, we get a child's view of how India formed. With the help of this video, we get a more complete understanding of each significant moment. Lenny experiences all of these moments, and now, we can make connections with her experiences and our understanding of India's revolution as a whole.

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