Reliving the Partition in Eastern India: Memories of and Memoirs by Women across the Borders

Sharmistha Chatterjee Sriwastav
Rupkatha Journal
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Genocide in Bangladesh: 1971 (2015), edited by A.K.M Nasimul Kamal is a well- documented, organised and factual record of newspaper clippings from all over the world. A collective effort, it is an objective, yet horrific account of the brutal atrocities of West Pakistanis on the Bengalis in East Pakistan, carefully interspersed with the international politics behind it. Compared to this unparalleled book and many others like this, memoirs by individual women recording the carnage during the Bangladesh Liberation Struggle are pale, unreliable and flickering comments on the events and the real politick behind the bloodbath. Yet as the paper argues, these memoirs and interviews by various women, from all walks of life, do create an alternative history- a history characterised and problematised by doubts, gaps, lapses, silences, turbulences and half realized truths. Autobiographical accounts by Begum Mushtari Shafi (translated, 2006),cand Farida Huq (2008), former a social activist and latter an educationist coupled with interviews given by several ordinary, poor women across the borders ( recorded in 2009) demand closer attention to themselves by recreating the gruesome days. Falling back on their personal repertoire which oscillates between the home and the world, these largely anecdotal narratives fill in the void of homogeneous official records. These memoirs do retrieve how women acted or were acted upon in the devastation which changed their lives permanently.