The lilting rhythms of Punjabi folk songs, the Siapewalli, and Naani wailing about her bad kismet caused by the chudail and dain. Partition changed the old traditions of Punjabiyat but in the pages of this book they come alive..
The invisible cost of the Partition of the Punjab in 1947 – besides the violence, loss of life and property – was that it destroyed the psychic equilibrium of the displaced population. This is the story of one such woman, Shakunt, who rebuilt her life but could never get over the trauma of losing her homes in Quetta and Jhang – not just the loss of a physical space but of the language, culture and ethos that it had embodied. A syncretic culture of multilingualism – Urdu, Persian and Punjabi – and of multiple identities of caste, mohalla and religion.
But then there was the disaster of the Quetta Earthquake of l935, and of Partition, which tore the family apart because her father chose to remain in Quetta as a member of the Pakistan Civil Service.
Shakunt coped with her mental distress by escaping into the past, reliving the memories of her life in Quetta and Jhang. Hers was a feminine recall of the perhaps insignificant yet poignant details of daily lives which hinged on the drama of the trivial – on food, rituals and neighbourhood bonding. Of an agnostic father, a mother who was a devotee of Guru Nanak, of pilgrimages to Sufi shrines. This is Shakunt’s story as recorded by her daughter.