Source: Blogchatter Book Review Program
Rating: 4/5 stars
Siraj discovers a dark secret lurking in his family’s past, which he must unravel to reconstruct the truth about his own identity and roots. Destiny leads Siraj to the land where he was born, to uncover the secret of his family’s past that lay buried within the annals of its history. Mrinal, on the other hand, undertakes a trip to Bangladesh as the journey of his lifetime: a land which he had had to leave behind amidst the fire of communal violence in 1950, post the Partition of India.
It was the title “My Land across the Border” that piqued my interest. A term often used by my grandfather as he reminisced about pre-partition India. Both my parents’ families were displaced by the partition. I have grown up hearing stories of life in undivided Punjab. There were as many stories of the village, the people, and their childhood as there were of being forced to leave everything behind, and start anew. The book dedication hit a nerve. Quoting the author, it is indeed “the inextinguishable spirit which made them rise like a phoenix and live anew, albeit in a different land, despite the scars in the mind which refused to heal.”
The book follows two men, a middle-aged history professor Siraj and a septuagenarian Mrinal as they journey back to Bangladesh. The former to uncover secrets of his family that should best remain buried, and the latter to fulfill a promise he made to himself when his family was forced to leave their home.
I enjoyed reading the book. The writing is lucid. Most non-linear narrations tend to get confusing after a point, but the author switches back and forth with ease. The amount of research is evident and so is the attention to detail. You are transported to Bangladesh, the villages, and the rivers.
The book is a lesson in history too. There are a number of books from fiction genre based on the 1947 partition but very few are on the liberation of Bangladesh. Operation Searchlight, the Mukti Bahini, and the Razakars.
Without giving out spoilers, what did stand out for me was that the book brought a human face to it all. Both the victims and the perpetrators. There is always a yin to the yang. And closure does not necessarily mean forgiveness.
I would highly recommend the book.
This review has been written as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program.