Bridge Across the Rivers

Publisher: Niyogi Books
Edited By: Jasbir Jain and Tripti Jain
Year of Publication: 2017

Bridge Across the Rivers: Partition Memories from the Two Punjabs is an anthology of stories by a variety of people who have been associated with the idea of ‘partition’.

The writers and their translators bring us the stories which at first invoke deep emotion and drama, but are even deeper in its essence and prolonged adaptation.

Only the one who is in the situation can explain well how and what had happened. There are no right or wrong sides to partition but yet there are divisions because that is what happened.

As the title suggests, “Bridges Across the Rivers” — the narratives indeed aim at bridging the stories of two divided nations which were — and still are — One.

It is on the map that a line drawn separates the two countries, but can that line be drawn in hearts is a question whose answer can be received through this book.

“Languages, literatures and legends present a continuity which moves beyond all other variable temporary constructs and power dynamics.” 

The choice of stories is such that it balances the pain and joys of both the sides in almost equal proportion for the readers as well as for the different characters who could have possibly existed at the crucial time of 1947.

Was the partition necessary?

Was it accepted by all?

Who had benefited from it — Muslims or Sikhs?

As I was reading various short stories, despite it being a work of translation where it is said that the essence of the language is lost, I felt that the intensity of the event is such that no real meaning can ever be lost.

The colloquial terms, the authentic local usage and context have not only been used but have also been explained so that the terminology doesn’t fade away as we jump years away from 1947.

The book is a ‘balance’of stories from both sides where grief, revenge, hatred and murder are not the only motifs, but rituals, religious practices, humanity, love and kindness stand above all of this.

A political decision had created a turmoil whose repercussions are still being felt in terms of physical loss of loved ones and mental trauma for generations which followed.

The stories have been arranged so, so that the readers get an alternative insight into both the parts, of the people who were stuck here and there or there and here and who chose to live in peace and harmony even with bombardment outside their temporary shelters.

As you finish reading the book, you can’t say who was more right or who was more wrong, but you will ask “Was this suffering worth it?”

This is a fictional piece which falls both in the domain fiction and non-fiction because though the stories have been made, but these have been lived by someone from whom they have been inspired.

The book is a valuable and simplistic addition to the larger jargon of Partition Literature.

“When we turn to fiction, we do so both for the expression of pain and the turn towards healing.”