INTRODUCTION Partition has been the theme for many of the Pakistani and Indianauthors. It was an event that not many can forget. Families were torn apart,toddlers were left orphaned. The partition holocaust wrought havoc on all ascommunalism made people go wild. The tragic and momentous event has stirredthe creative imagination of many writers, who weaved the fabric of tragic talehighlighting untold and unbearable atrocities of communal violence between theHindus and the Muslims. The literature that made its appearance during thepartition of Indo-Pak Sub-continent highlights the grim details of bloodshed anduntold tales. We can observe people, who were alive then did not write about it,either because the hurt is still fresh, or they were ashamed of what happened tothem or the evils they did to the others. The young writers tend to skip through itbecause of the emotional and political connotations a novel based on partitionmight have. Bapsi Sidhwa is one of such writer, who made their appearance in thecolonial literature liking a shooting star.
THEME OF PARTITION IN ICE-CANDY-MAN Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man mirrors miseries of disastrouspartition in the history of Indo-Pak Sub-continent. Through Ice-Candy –ManBapsi Sidhwa has skillfully narrated the documentary details of historicalperspective of partition; she seeks to explore and unravel the breakdown of inter-communal networks and most importantly addresses a larger historical question–national leaders’ failure to realize a united India. This fair and impartialhistorical perspective is indispensable because the novel has been cast against thebackdrop. Ice Candy Man focuses on the thematic paradigm of partition theme,the disintegration of social mores with the advent of partition has been broughtout , it also evinces (demonstrates) the beguiling impact of communal forces hell-bent on whipping up the frenzy, and a study of inferiority complex. The twirty-two chapters of Bapsi Sidhwas novel, Ice-Candy-Man (1981)sparkle with a whole world teeming with numerous details surrounding day-to-day life with all its political, social and religious import. The partition theme in Ice Candy Man has been acknowledged variedlyby many critics and magazines. In The New York Liberty Journal, it hasbeen commented in the following words:- “The originality and power of Sidhwa’s splendid novel on the partition of India and the subsequent communal violence derived from her choice of protagonist; Lenny, an eight-year-old Parsee girl from Lahore, a spectator living in the midst of, but a part from, the rising tension among Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs….”
The partition saga in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India originally IceCandy Man in light of current political, religious, and social tensions in Indiaand Pakistan, a more appropriate title could easily have been, “The morethings change, and the more they stay the same.”(Critics on BapsiSidhw’s work. Ironically, its adaptation in, Earth, by Deepa Mehta, attests toits timeliness. Set in 1940’s India, during the time of independence and thepartition, Cracking India brings to life the deeply religious, national, social,and economic tensions marking both historical and current Indo-Pak politicaldynamics. The story revolves around a young polio ridden Parsi girl, Lenny, theMuslim Ice Candy Man and the beautiful Hindu Ayah. The naïve observations ofthe young girl about startling images of violence, fear and hatredintensify considerably for the readers. The co-mingling of innocence and experience allow the reader to view thisextremely confusing and unstable chapter of Indian history through a simplerlens, a more objective voice. The people in Lenny’s life are reduced to physical orspiritual characteristics. People from different religions be it a Hindu, Muslim ora Sikh are painted in the colors of callousness and hatred that they espousefor each other. Religion to the young narrator is nothing but a superficial label, ascharacters switch from one to the other with such nonchalant ease. Thoughcoming from a young narrator might have made things a lot easier to read butwhat makes it very complex is the socio-emotional and political trauma &turmoil that Sidhwa talks about so beautifully through this book. She talks
about the colossal pain and sufferings of people cutting across the boundaries ofreligion and nationality, the latter being a concept, which was just being forcedupon them from high up. The real good about the Ice Candy Man, is the universal appeal it has, itcan fit in per se to the happenings in Northern Ireland, Bosnia or for that mattertill now strife-ridden Afghanistan. Sidhwa says in his nature man has notchanged much as he always keep fighting for one or the other thing, sometimeshe fights for religion, for land, for women, for position, for greed or sometimesjust for the sake of it. Superficial things have come to take a center stage in ourlives, something that robs from us the basic premise of our existence.Through Cracking India, Bapsi Sidhwa has indeed brought to life the spiritual,emotional, and very real implications of the partition of India. In sodoing, she has “cracked” the riddle of India and revealed to us the culturaldifficulties that plagued South Asia before, during, and after its split from theBritish and the creation of Pakistan.In an interview, Bapsi Sidhwa, while commenting upon the theme of Partitionher works, she remarked:- “I wanted to write about the partition precisely because so little has been written about. I spent time visualizing a scene from the time of partition--- The roar of distant mobs was a constant of my childhood: it was a sound that terrified me, because I knew they were doing evil-“ About major themes in Ice Candy Man, She said:-
“Love exists in its many forms and faces throughout the book. Theres the cruel, pitiless face of love, and the warmth of the love between Godmother and the child, Lenny. The caring and nurturing love between Ayah and Lenny, between the mother and Lenny. Even Slavesister and Godmother, in spite of their constant bickering, have a strong bond. Love takes an awful shape when the Ice-candy-man allows Ayah to be kidnapped by the mob. “ As the action of the novel unveils, we confront a pattern of communalamity where the three communities –the Hindus , Muslims and Sikhs –are still atpeace with one another. But the intimations of an imminent death anddestruction lurk in the symbolic –significance of Lenny’s nightmares of the Nazisoldiers “Coming to get me on his motorcycle” and that of men in uniformsquietly slicing of a child’s are here, a leg there. She feels as if the child in thenightmare is herself. The nightmare suggests the impeding vivisection of India,which was as cruel as the dismemberment of that child. This chilling horror thatshe feels no one being concerned about what is happening, sums up the lack ofconcern on the part of the authorities to check the unbridled display ofbarbarianism during partition. The hungry lion of the Zoo still another Lenny’snightmare appears to be a symbol of the flood of mutual hatred that the dawn ofindependence released to play havoc with the Hindus, the Muslims and the Sikhson both sides of the border. Thus with these symbols the novelist prepares thereaders for the gruesome and gory pattern of a communal discord that becomesblatantly obvious during partition. Later, we perceive the pattern of communal amity that existed in ruralIndia between the three communities. On her visit to Pirpindo, a Muslim village,
Lenny finds the Muslims of Pirpindo and the Sikhs of the neighboring villageDera Tek Singh sitting together and sharing concerns about the worseningcommunal relations in the cities. The Sikh priest, Jugjeet Singh’s and villageMullah’s concern has a ring of religious concord in Pirpindo and other villages;“Brother, our villages come from the same racial stock. Muslim orSikh, we are basically Jats. We are brothers, how can we fight eachother?” In fact, the roots of communal amity in rural Punjab go so deep that themembers of the three communities are ready to sacrifice even their lives forprotecting each other. “If need be, we will protect our Muslims brother’swith our lives” Says Jagjeet Singh, “I am prepared to take oath on theHoly Quran”, declares the Village Choudhry, “that every man in thisvillage will guard his Sikh brother with no regards for his own life”.At this stage of Indian history the pattern of communal relations between the tworural communities, despite buffetings from outside, was still that of harmony andconcord. The rumblings of communal discord soon reach Lahore, Lenny’s parentsentertain guests form various communities to dinners and it is at one of thesedinner parties that the Inspector General, Mr. Rogers expresses the differencesbetween the Congress under the leadership of Nehru and Muslim Leagues underJinnah, who are pushing India to the brink of partition. Mr. Singh, another guesthowever thinks that once independence is gained, they will be able to settle alltheir difference, as these have been created by British: “You always set oneup against the other….you just give Home and Rule and see. We will
settle all their differences and everything!” While violence has affected everyone, the Sikhs barbarity stands outprominent in this respect. Sidhwa describes a train massacre through the eyes ofIce-Candy-Man:- “A train from Gurdaspur has just come in …Everyone in it is dead. Butchered. They are all Muslims. There are no young women dead. Only to gunny –bags full of women’s breast..” But Sharbat Khan is sure that “they are stirring up trouble for all” .Here he becomes a persona of the novelist and comments that it the intransigentsectarianism of the national leaders, which wrought havoc on the pattern ofcommunal amity existing in rural India. The fear of partition and the violence it would unleash drives the commonman to think about his safety. On her second visit to Pirpindo, on the occasion ofBaisaki when the festival is already in full swing, it is in the midst of these gayactivities that Lenny’s friend Ranna senses the steel of suspicion and fear. BapsiSidwa captures the prevailing feelings:- “And despite the gaiety and distractions, Ranna senses the chill spread by the presence of strangers. Their unexpected faces harsh and cold. A Sikh youth, whom Ranna has met few times, and who has always been kind, pretends not to notice Ranna. Other men, who would normally being aware of it, his smile becomes strained and his laughter strident”In this tense atmosphere, the Alkali leader, Mater Tara Singh visits Lahore.Addressing a vast congregation outside the Assembly Chambers he shouts, “ Wewill see how the Muslims swine get Pakistan! We will fight to the lastman! His address is greeted with the roar of “Pakistan Murdabad ! Death toPakistan Sat Sri Akal! Bolay So Nihal!”
In the Ice-Candy-Man, Sidwa has also used allegory to depict the trauma ofpartition. The child narrator, Lenny is also affected by the violence in Lahore asshe say, “ The whole world is burning. The air on my face is so hot Ithink my flash and clothes will catch fire”.Ice-Candy-Man is an overtly politically motivated novel. Sidhwa admits this inan interview with David Montegro, The main motivation grew out of myreading of a good deal of literature on the Partition of India andPakistan what has been written by the British and the Indians.Naturally, they reflect their bias. And they have, I felt after I hadresearched the books, been unfair to Pakistan. As a writer, as ahuman being, one just does not tolerate injustice.” In a nutshell, Bapsi Sidhwa has provided the pen picture of the partitionedIndian Sub-continent and the atrocities across the borders on both sides in animpartial way.