An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind
This 1956 novel by Khushwant Singh is set in the backdrop of the gruesome killings on the India Pakistan border that followed in the wake of partition.I always wanted to read a fictional story based on those times as the factual accounts are themselves a tad boring. This was also my first novel from Khushwant Singh.I must admit I have never been a great fan of his columns that used to come every weekend in The Telegraph (which was otherwise much appreciated by my Mom), but this novel has converted me into an ardent fan of the author.
Train to Pakistan has it all; all that’s required by a novel to become a good read. A good plot, an awesome narrative, very well sketched and above all real characters, and raw emotion. Along the newly charted India Pakistan border is a small sleepy village inhabited by Sikhs and Muslims that has escaped the brutality and horrors of inter-caste killings that’s otherwise rampant in other villages.The trains running to and fro between India and Pakistan form a significant part of the village life. But this peace is threatened when a ghost train from Pakistan halts at the village. The main plot highlights the camrederie between the Sikhs and the Muslims of the village and how it stands the test of time. The other subplots deal with a Sikh goonda in love with a Muslim girl, a cunning District Commissioner having a fling with a muslim prostitute who is young enough to be his daughter,a Communist Party intellectual having the confusing name Iqbal who comes to the village to exhort the villagers to fight for their rights against the administration, and how the villain of the village ultimately saves the day and turns out to be it’s bravest hero.
This book does not have a single dull moment and you will be turning the pages with only increasing impatience and curiosity as the many plots unfold. A must read!!