Ice candy man


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Ice candy man

  1. 1. THE ICE CANDY MAN Jahanzeb Jahan I.D: 100784-006
  2. 2. Bapsi Sidhwa is Pakistan's leading writer. She has produced four novels in English that reflect her personal experience of the Indian subcontinent's Partition, abuse against women, immigration to the US, and membership in the Parsi/Zoroastrian community. Born on August 11, 1938 in Karachi, in what is now Pakistan, and migrating shortly thereafter to Lahore, Bapsi Sidhwa witnessed the bloody Partition of the Indian Subcontinent as a young child in 1947. Growing up with polio, she was educated at home until age 15, reading extensively. She then went on to receive a BA from Kinnaird College for Women in Lahore. At nineteen, Sidhwa had married and soon after gave birth to the first of her three children. The responsibilities of a family led her to conceal her literary prowess. She says, "Whenever there was a bridge game, I'd sneak off and write. But now that I've been published, a whole world has opened up for me." (Graeber) For many years, though, she says, "I was told that Pakistan was too remote in time and place for Americans or the British to identify with"(Hower 299). During this time she was an active women's rights spokesperson, representing Pakistan in the Asian Women's Congress of 1975. After receiving countless rejections for her first and second novels, The Bride and The Crow Eaters, she decided to publish The Crow Eaters in Pakistan privately. Though the experience was one she says, "I would not wish on anyone," it marks the beginning of her literary fame (Sidhwa "Interview" 295). Since then, she has received numerous awards and honorary professorships for these first two works and her two most recent novels, Cracking India and An American Brat. These include the Pakistan National honors of the Patras Bokhri award for The Bride in 1985 and the highest honor in the arts, the Sitari-I- Imtiaz in 1991. Her third novel, Cracking India was awarded the German Literaturepreis and a nomination for Notable Book of the Year from the American Library Association, and was mentioned as a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year," all in 1991. A Bunting Fellowship from Harvard and a National Endowment of the Arts grant in 1986 and 1987 supported the completion of Cracking India. Most recently she was awarded a $100,000 grant as the recipient of the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award in 1993. Her works have now been translated into Russian, French and German. She is currently working on collections of short stories and essays, while fulfilling her duties as Writer-in- Residence and English professor at Mt. Holyoke College. She has also taught college- level English courses at St. Thomas University, Rice University, and The University of Texas, all in Houston, as well as at the graduate level at Columbia University, NY. What is most remarkable about Bapsi Sidhwa's perspective on the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent is her religious distance from its most immediate effects as a member of the Parsi/Zoroastrian community. In Cracking India, she recounts the traditional story of the Parsees arrival from Iran to India in the 8th century C.E., in which an Indian prince sent Zoroastrian refugees fleeing Islamic expansion a messenger with a glass of milk, signifying that the Indian people were a united and homogenous mixture that should not be tampered with. In response, the Parsees dropped a lump of sugar in the milk, saying that they would blend in easily and make the culture sweeter. It followed that they were granted a home in India because Parsees neither prosletyzed nor entered into politics. Thus, Bapsi Sidhwa's heritage allowed her to witness the Partition from a safe distance,
  3. 3. since Parsees held a religiously and politically neutral position. In an interview she says, "The struggle was between the Hindus and the Muslims, and as a Parsee (member of a Zoroastrian sect), I felt I could give a dispassionate account of this huge, momentous struggle" (Gutman). Zoroastrianism's origins go back to 3000 BCE among the Proto Indo-Iranians. These people inhabited the South Russian Steppes, east of the Volga River. Recognizing the cyclical nature of reality in day and night and the seasons, the Proto Indo-Iranians looked to the sky, land, and water for divinity. However, the discovery of bronze casting around 2000 BCE caused many of these peaceful shepherds to abandon their flocks and become warriors. Zarathustra was born into this society at about 1500 BCE. After meditating for several years, he arrived at conversation with one God, Ahura Mazda, "The Lord of Light." Thus, Zoroastrianism is one of the earliest monotheistic religions. Zarathustra took his dialogues with Ahura Mazda and composed hymns from them called The Gathas. He sung of a God who was all-knowing, beyond idolatry, and active in the present. Drawing on his people's past, Zarathustra taught that Ahura Mazda's power is revealed through the precise laws of the universe (Asha). Furthermore, it is believed that Ahura Mazda gave humans the divine gift of the mind ("Voho Manoh") to recognize their God. The major tenets of Zoroastrianism surround death and marriage. Dakhma-nashini is the only method accepted for disposing of the dead's body. The corpse is placed in a stone Dakhma, open to the sky and birds of prey. The body enters the food chain just as any other dead animal or plant does, again emphasizing the life cycle. Dakhma-nashini also ensures that the water supply will not be contaminated. Marriage outside the religion is forbidden as is conversion to preserve ethnic identity and tradition. For the Zoroastrians/Parsees, ethnicity and religion are the same. Bapsi Sidhwa addresses the strain put on the Parsee community as the world becomes increasingly connected in her most recent novel, An American Brat . Presently, the Parsee community numbers about 1 million worldwide. They are generally Anglicized and well educated. The Faravahar (pictured above) is the sacred figure of Zoroastrianism. It symbolizes the soul's journey through life and eventual union with Ahura Mazda with the aid of the mind. The belief of soul's absolute importance in existence is symbolized by the profile of the man placed in the center of the Faravahar. The soul progresses through its life journey on two outreaching wings. Each wing has five layers of feathers which correlate with the five senses, the five Gathas of Zarathustra, and the five Zoroastrian divisions of the day (Gehs). The two curving legs extending from the male profile's hip symbolize the two opposing paths of good and evil each soul must navigate consciously. The feathered tail that dips between these two legs represents the rudder of the soul. It has three feather layers for Humata (Good Thoughts), Hukhta (Good Works), and Hvarasta (Good Deeds). The circular ring that the man holds within his hands calls Zoroastrians to remember the cycles of death and birth, success and failure, rebirth, and alternate realms of existence beyond this reality.
  4. 4. Cracking India In her third novel, Cracking India, Bapsi Sidhwa delicately threads the story of an 8 year old girl named Lenny with the din of violence ready to crash around her world as the Partition moves from political planning into reality. The story is told in the present tense as the events unfold before the young girl's eyes, though moments of an older Lenny looking back are apparent. Like Sidhwa, Lenny is stricken with polio, lives in Lahore, and is a Parsi. She is clever and extremely observant narrator, though many times her understanding is limited by her young age. This naivet* is apparent when she ponders if the earth will bleed when the adults "crack" India. The historical scene of the Partition is integrated well into the novel through Lenny's young eyes, though Sidhwa is criticized by some critics for making Lenny's character too intelligent for her age. As Lenny becomes more aware, she must confront a reality increasingly reduced into categories and labels. The characters that surround Lenny include "Slavesister," "Electric Aunt," "Old Husband," "Godmother," "Ayah," and "Ice-Candy-Man." Initially, the novel took the name of this last character. However, publishers feared that an American audience might mistake the unfamiliar name for a drug pusher. In fact, the Ice-Candy-Man is a Muslim street vendor drawn like many other men by the magnetic beauty of Ayah, Lenny's nanny. Lenny observes the transition of the Ice-Candy-Man through the roles of ice cream vendor, bird seller, cosmic connector to Allah via telephone, and pimp. This last role shows the devious methods which some, particularly politicians, will sink to in order to survive. Of the dirtiness of politics, Bapsi Sidhwa says, "As a Parsee, I can see things objectively. I see all the common people suffering while the politicians on either side have the fun"("Writer-In-Residence"). In contrast, Sidhwa presents us with the Godmother as a truer source of strength and action, through knowledge instead of pride and rhetoric. Along with political ineffectiveness, Sidhwa draws out the most damaging effect of the Partition, the symbolic desecration women on both sides of the conflict. Sidhwa recalls the chilling shrieks and moans of recovered women at the time. She asked herself, "Why do they cry like that? Because they are delivering unwanted babies, I'm told, or reliving hideous memories. Thousands of women were kidnapped." (Sidhwa "New Neighbors") Elsewhere, she continues, "Victory is celebrated on a woman's body, vengeance is taken on a woman's body. That's very much the way things are, particularly in my part of the world" (Graeber). Cracking India includes among all of this tragedy a brilliant sense of humor as well. She explains, "Laughter does so many things for us It has the quality of exposing wrongs and gets rid of anger and excitement." ("Writer-In-Residence"). Cracking India calls to recollection the pain of old, caked wounds so that they may finally be healed. A cinematic adaptation is currently being filmed in Delhi by Pakistani/Canadian director, Deepa Mehta. The film is to be titled, Earth, the second installment of a trilogy that began with her critically acclaimed film Fire, and will end in the future with Water. The screenplay is written for a Pakistani audience. The movie, too, will take the perspective
  5. 5. of Lenny, age 7, but will add a competing masseuse vying for the love of Das (Ayah) with the Ice-Candy-Man. Review: "Bapsi Sidhwa has turned her gaze upon the domestic comedy of a Pakistani family in the 1940s and somehow managed to evoke the great political upheavals of the age ... and I am particularly touched by the way she has held the wicked world up to the mirror of a young girl's mind and caught so much that is lyrical and significant ... a mysterious and wonderful novel." Is said beautifully by Richard Ryan in Washington Post "Bapsi Sidhwa's Ice-Candy-Man is like foraging through a tableful of discounted Swatch watches, and finding a gold illustrates the power of good fiction: a historical tragedy comes alive, yielding insight into both the past and the subcontinent's turbulent present." Are the remarks of famous critic Deidre Donahue in USA Today Throughout, the novel sustains the vitality of Lenny's world with a series of wonderfully comic scenes. Highly recommended for all libraries." J. Sudrann in Library Journal. "Like all Sidhwa's work, the novel contains a rich undercurrent of legend and folklore. It combines Sidhwa's affectionate admiration for her own community with a compassion for the dispossessed. Her own childhood memories give the novel further depth and resonance." The Oxford Companion To Twentieth-Century Literature in English " Sidhwa's triumph lies in creating characters so rich in hilarious and accurate detail, so alive and active, that long after one has closed the book, they continue to perform their extraordinary and wonderful feats before our eyes." Anita Desai in Dawn In light of current political, religious, and social tensions in India and Pakistan, a more appropriate title for Bapsi Sidhwa’s third novel, Cracking India (originally Ice Candy Man), could easily have been, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Ironically, its adaptation in the recently released film, Earth, by Deepa Mehta, attests to its timeliness. Set in 1940’s India, during the time of independence and the partition, Cracking India brings to life the deeply religious, national, social, and economic tensions marking both historical and current Indo-Pak political dynamics. Sidhwa’s genius lies in her juxtaposition of the themes of innocence and experience in Cracking India. Revealed through the naïve observations of the young Parsi girl, Lenny, startling images of violence, fear, and hatred intensify considerably for readers. The co- mingling of innocence and experience allow the reader to view this extremely confusing and unstable chapter of Indian history through a simpler lens, a more objective voice. The people in Lenny’s life are reduced to physical or spiritual characteristics. The Ice Candy Man sells ice cream and candy; Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs are defined primarily by the hatred they espouse, making each of them equally disturbing to the young narrator’s mind. Religion is reduced to a superficial label, as characters easily switch from one to
  6. 6. the other. But don’t let the simplicity of the novel fool you. Simple, it is not. The simplicity of the narrator’s view serves to exaggerate the extreme complexity of the times. The simplicity of the plot puts a human face on the multitudes of suffering people who lived through these times. Sidhwa has done a wonderful job of bringing the confusion and immense impact of social and cultural change upon the individual life of a small girl. In fact, her childhood images are viewed through the lens of her climate-- i.e. her relationships, her understanding of the world, and her self-awareness are dependent upon the events of her time. Hence, it is obvious that she will be forever scarred by it. Sidhwa’s true skill also lies in the layering of plots and sub-plots. Focused centrally on Lenny, the novel boasts a series of sub-plots, each competing throughout the novel for the center stage. Perhaps the most entertaining and alluring sub-plot is that of the love story between the Muslim Ice Candy Man and the beautiful Hindu Ayah. In addition, many of the plots are left unresolved, leaving the reader with a sense of loss or lack of closure – mirroring the experience many people during this time must have had. For all of its great qualities, the novel contains certain problematic areas. At times, I found the sexual imagery too graphic. At first, the images seemed to protrude randomly and oddly throughout the novel. Perhaps they were inserted at these strange points as a means of revealing the dynamics of power, which interplay in the novel. Regardless, the novel could have done just as well, perhaps even better, without them. In addition, if you are looking to the novel for an accurate historical account, this is not the novel for you. The gist of this novel is not to be a monolith of correct factual information---in fact the novel has been criticized for being historically inaccurate in certain cases. It is possible that the inaccuracies of the novel seemed appropriate to the author because the story is narrated by a young girl who might recognize the emotional impact of an event rather than its historical details. The modern applicability of this novel is also important to make note of. The lessons taught by this novel are universal and could be applied to almost any current political situation around the world, from the problems of Northern Ireland to those in Kosovo. The title of the novel pointedly reveals the very worst and best natures of the human race as we struggle with the intricacies of life. The novel deals with a monumental and potent slice of Indian history. Through Cracking India, Bapsi Sidhwa has indeed brought to life the spiritual, emotional, and very real implications of the partition of India. In so doing, she has “cracked” the riddle of India and revealed to us the cultural difficulties that plagued South Asia before, during, and after its split from the British and the creation of Pakistan.
  7. 7. Major & Minor Themes MMajor Themes: Theme of Partition T Theme of dislocation and disintegration T Theme of Communal discord T Dilemma of the Parsi community DTheme of Feminism–women as victims & as saviours T Constancy of desire & its lack of moral legitimacy CThe eternal conflict of moral good & evil in the human psyche T Neutrality NMinor themes: Manipulation MIntolerance I Impassivity I Duplicity of colonialism DChaos and confusion Cracking India tells the story of the partition of India through the eyes of young Lenny, a Parsee girl growing up in Lahore. Lenny narrates the events of her family and native Lahore over more than a ten year period, from before World War II to just after Indian independence and the partition. The power of Cracking India stems from Sidwha’s creation of an idyllic picture of Lenny’s childhood, and the relative inter-racial harmony of pre-Independence Lahore. We then watch with horror as the people around Lenny
  8. 8. divide along racial/religious lines and eventually slaughter one another. Historical fiction such as Cracking India shows us history in miniature, making it far more vivid than mere statistics about the numbers slaughtered during the tragic events of 1947-48. Although the story is set against the backdrop of India independence, it is equally the story of Lenny’s maturation from a four-year-old limping girl to a young woman of growing sexual awareness. As a young girl she sits in the Queen’s garden with her Ayah, her nanny, who is nubile and theobject of desire for a large circle of young men of many races and creeds. Young Lenny perceives their eyes burning for Ayah, their furtive attempts to touch her with their hands, mouths, even their toes. Her education about sexuality thus begins early, though Sidhwa delights in showing us Lenny’s later sexual discoveries as well, such as her growing aware of her Cousin’s body. Much of the novel seems derived from Sidhwa’s autobiographical experience, and this explains much of the narrative’s power. Lenny’s perceptiveness makes her an effective narrator, though it takes some time to get used to a four-year-old making the insights that Lenny does. Lenny is already conscious of people treating her differently because of her limp. Lenny senses people’s motivations, and spots their most telling gestures. She describes the mixed blessings of her own honesty, showing self-awareness as well. But her honesty, her “cursed tongue” as she calls it, also betrays her beloved Ayah, a Hindu, whom Lenny mistakenly betrays to Ice-Candy Man. Much of the story’s charm comes from Lenny’s acute descriptions of her childhood. She experiences the joys of visiting her family cook’s native town, savoring stolen bits of chicken giblets in the kitchen during her parent’s dinner parties, and hiding under the table and making profound insights about the guests’ personality based on the movements of their legs and feet. But her greatest joy is her Ayah, a sublime being whose attractions ensure that Lenny herself always has plenty of company. This motley collection of Ayah’s admirers, suggesting the diversity of all India in miniature, consists of around 12 men including at least one Sikh, a Muslim, a Hindu, and Parsee all with different occupations. Their peaceful co-existence in their competition for Ayah’s affections suggests the larger inter-racial amity in Lahore. While some of this inter-racial co-operation is based on a common abhorrence of British rule, it is also based on centuries of living together, as the characters themselves state outright. So the ancient city of Lahore is torn asunder by Western-style nationalism and nation- state building—one of many lasting wounds from British rule. As Lenny observes: “It is sudden. One day everybody is themselves—and the next day they are Hindu, Muslim,
  9. 9. Sikh, Christian. People shrink, dwindling into symbols. Ayah is no longer just my all- encompassing Ayah—she is also a token. A Hindu.…” (101). As much as the story of Cracking India owes to its historical setting, its scope is local: Lahore. Historical events, and personages such as Nehru, Gandhi, Jinnah are far away (except for a comical meeting between Gandhi and Lenny and her mother), and their effect on Lahore is delayed. For the first third of the novel, the idyll of Lenny’s childhood is nearly untouched by the gathering storm. The middle third depicts the outbreak of violence and the destruction of pre-Pakistani Lahore, including Ayah’s circle. The novel’s climax is Ice-Candy’s betrayal of Ayah, by extracting her hiding-place from the trusting Lenny. From there, events proceed quickly, for we are as captivated by Ayah as her circle of admirers. The last third of the novel showcases the efforts of Lahore’s women to repair the damage done to the community by the men. Lenny’s mother leads other women in smuggling gasoline in order to raise money to send defamed women back to their families. Lenny’s Godmother is revealed to be a matriarch of considerable powers and influence. She is able to locate the violated Ayah, and rescue her from Ice-Candy Man’s clutches, and send her back to her family in India. Lenny-as-narrator undergirds the novel’s feminine perspective. While some male characters, such Masseur, Lenny’s father, and Cousin, are treated sympathetically, many male characters are seen as encircling predators of sex or violence. Lenny’s persepective is formed while she sits next to Ayah in the middle of her circle of admirers. Ice-Candy Man’s betrayal is especially shocking, because as a popsicle salesman he has a rapport with children that leads to Lenny’s misguided trust in him at the crucial moment of Ayah’s fate. Perhaps mindful of her Western audience, Sidhwa throws in some allusions to Western literature. The Ice-Candy Man is allusion to Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, which in turn alluded to Gospels, wherein Jesus foretold that the “bridegroom [of the church, i.e., God] cometh.” O’Neill’s play depicted a group of 13 drunks (deliberately 13 to suggest Christ and his 12 apostles) revolving around the salesman Hickey, the Iceman of life-killing cold truths, who shatters the personal illusions, the “pipe-dreams” of the other 12 in the circle. Similarly, Ayah, has a circle of twelve followers. The Ice-Candy Man, the Judas figure, betrays his beloved Ayah, and shatters the amicable illusion of Ayah’s circle, revealing the cauldron of lust that had always inspired it. Sidhwa succeeds by focusing on the personal level of events. She offers no novel explanation for the violence that engulfed the partition. We are shown only a handful of
  10. 10. fully-drawn characters. Lenny’s child-like eyes are ideal for showing us the horrors of civil war. And yet it is surprising how dispassionately Lenny reacts to the madness around her, even years later as she is narrating the events. It is almost as if her desire for objectivity as a narrator was stronger than her emotions to the horrors of war. The beauty of the language shows the narrator telling us the Lenny’s story is stronger than the child who witnessed the atrocities. But without such narrative strength we might not have this particular story at all.