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The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India
The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India
By Urvashi Butalia
Duke University Press, 2000, 308 pp
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An extraordinary oral history of a horrendous human tragedy. Butalia's account of the partition of India, when 12 million people moved across the new national boundaries and as many as 2 million died, lays bare the passions of fear and hatred that too often drive the India-Pakistan relationship. She details the demographic and ethnic developments that affected partition and recounts the traumas that women in particular experienced, including her own family. The raw horror of it all is mitigated by the author's skillful prose, which draws the reader into the Indian story. The frequent necessity of using the glossary only makes more vivid the unique social context of the tragedy. Butalia's hope is that by putting the unspeakable into words, she will help heal the trauma and thereby help repair the India-Pakistan relationship.