The novel examines the inexorable logic of Partition as an offshoot of fundamentalism sparked by hardening communal attitudes. It looks at Partition as a means of spreading
disharmony which resulted in frenzy and chaos. The novel, written from a domestic standpoint, opens with the child narrator observing the situation of Lahore at the time of
Partition. Ice ??“Candy- Man is a novel of upheaval which includes a cast of characters from all communities. There are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Parsis. So a multiple perspective of Partition emerges as viewed by all the affected communities.
Lenny reveals the trauma of Partition through her memories with a sprinkling of humour, parody and allegory, describing how her friends and neighbours become helpless and ineffective while fazed with mob frenzy. The device of the child narrator helps Bapi Sidhwa treat the historical moment as horrifying as partition without morbidly, pedanticism and despair. Sensitively the author shows the human toll of the partition, when a concerned a Lenny asks: ???Can one break a country And what happens if they break it where our house is??? (92).
Impact of the partition
1. The psychological impact of Partition on Children
The impact of Partition understood and narrated through the feelings of a child, who is a member of the minority community. The sense of lose is aptly portrayed as Lenny and her brother Adi wandering through the garden; ???Adi and I wander from group to group peering into faces beneath white skull-caps and above ascetic breads. I feel uneasy. Like Hamida I do not fit. I know we will not find familiar faces here???(237). The uprootedness of partition is revealed as Lenny drifts through the Queen??™s Garden searching in vain for familiar faces and acquaintances. Even in the child there is a feeling of insecurity.
When the rumours of communal riot breaks out, Masseur, one of the Muslim admirers of Ayah, promises to marry ayah and protect her from the impending violence. But Lenny persuades her not to marry him for it would mean separation. Later when Ayah is abducted it is Lenny who urges her family to search for her. Lenny??™s efforts show the dislocation of life and human feelings during the partition. She and her younger brother Adi watch the fire that engulfs the city. The slogans of Sikhs and Muslims become the source of nightmares for Lenny. It reminds her of the roars of lions in the zoo. When the riots break out, even the lovers become hostile. Ice Candy Man, the lover of Ayah finds her just as a Hindu girl and abducts her to persuade her to be prostitute. Thus Lenny is faced to the horrors of the partition time.
Again the author depicts the psyche of Lenny through allegory. ???The whole world is burning. The air on my face is so hot I think my flesh and clothes will catch fire. I start screaming; hysterically sobbing??? (137). The sense of violence and venomous hatred of friends who had rationalized about the impossibility of violence have a frightening impact of the young Parsi girl Lenny. Violence breeds violence and Lenny is also a victim. Her rage is directed at her collection of dolls. In frenzy she picks out a big doll and turned it upside down and pulled it apart. The violent action of Lenny is an apt allegory on the mindless violence of Partition. But later she breaks down and cries at her pointless brutality and novelist gives a strong message that unless there is re-thinking, brutality and insensitivity become a way of life.
Ranna???s encounters in the village of Pir Pindo entail substantial physical and psychological damage. Ranna, being such a small boy, is innocent to the capabilities of men and is thrown into a world where he is a stranger to violence and brutality. Ranna suffers a great deal of pain at the hands of others; he has a massive gash in his head, spear punctures in his legs, and extensive body damage from his flight to safety (p 213). It would be difficult for any child to fathom a reason for why this is being done to him or her; however, Ranna accepts his wounds and easily adapts to a will to survive. While Ranna???s physical wounds will heal, the scars left behind will forever remind him of the treacherous day when his family was stolen from him. Every atrocity that he witnesses is imprinted on his mind forever.
2. Victimization of Women
The partition narratives are testimony to the fact that the women of Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were among the greatest victims of religious and cultural persecution. On both sides of the newly created border, women were kidnapped, abducted, raped and brutally killed. Defilement of a woman???s body was considered to be the greatest dishonour that a family had to endure. And the violence inflicted upon women was equivalent to a sacrilege against one???s religion, country, and family.
The most abhorring scene in the novel Ice candy Man is the abduction of Ayah. Muslim mobs show up at Lenny???s house in search of the Hindu Ayah (p.190). Ayah is kidnapped by Ice Candy Man and the mob. She is forced to prostitute her body and coerced into having sex with Ice Candy Man. Ice Candy Man successfully strips Ayah of her identity as a woman and as a Hindu. Whatever love he has for Ayah is smothered by his complete subjugation of her. He keeps her in the kotha (brothel) even after marrying her. Although Ayah escapes her abductor, but even with her family in Amritsar, she will be marked by her defilement during partition. Thus, she will suffer the psychological and emotional outbursts forever. This is true of Hamida – the new ayah of Lenny. She depicts a woman who has been besmirched and subsequently discarded by her family. Godmother tells Lenny about Hamida that she was kidnapped by the Sikhs. People can???t stand their women being touched by other men (p. 227). Lenny is tormented by the wailing of a recovered woman at the refugee camp near her house.
3. A Parsi Perception of Partition
The attitude of Parsi community towards partition is that of neutrality. The tone of neutrality manifests in the narrator ??“character Lenny. This neutrality is much anticipated in the Parsi get together for Jashan Prayer, to celebrate the British victory, at the fire Temple in Lahore. The Parsis have been loyal to British Government but they fear the partition of India. Consequently they are in confusion as to which they should support. Col. Bharucha, the domineering Parsi doctor and the President of the ???Parsi Anjuman??™ sounds the note of caution. ???There may be not one but two or even three new nations! And the Parsis might find themselves championing the wrong side- if they don??™t look before they leap???(37). He dispels the fears of the community by advising them to cast their lot with whoever rules Lahore; ???Let whoever wishes rule! Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian! We will abide by the rule of their land??? (39). The parsis are going to be neutral in the tug of war among the three major communities of India. The neutral attitude of Lenny has its roots in this racial psychology of the Parsis. In a way the attitude of the Parsi community revealed here is the externalized collective sub-consciousness of Lenny.
While the flames of communal passion leap up in the skies of Lahore, the Parsis, who will now have maintained a safe distance from this communal conflagration, acts as the Messiah of the Hindus and Sikhs trapped in the burning of the city. They help in their transportation to India. Even Ayah is rescued by Lenny??™s Godmother and is sent to her parents in Amritsar. Thus inspired by a feeling of humanism, the Parsis shake off their passive neutrality and become the agents of healing process.
4. Dislocation in the Partition
Dislocation and disruption have an important impact during the partition.We see people weighing the options of staying or migrating. The question of migration loomed large in almost everyone??™s head. Negating the idea of going by saying: ???Where can the Muslim villagers go… How can they abandon their ancestor??™s graves, every inch of land they own, their other kin How will they ever hold
up their heads again Where will they go No, he says, they cannot throw the Muslims out. Almost all the people of India especially the Punjabis were faced with such dilemmas. Above all, the people, especially the Punjabis, were not expecting to be uprooted and dislocated. Perhaps this is another reason why so many of them died
because people could not comprehend the severity of the situation. After the riot people become ???aliens??™ in their own land.
All the novels that are written in the backdrop of partition give a vivid account of the communal violence that erupted in the subcontinent when the British announced its division into Pakistan and India. The most affected area was the Punjab province since it was one of the two provinces that were divided into two halves. This led to huge migration from one city to another to seek a peaceful land for their survival while giving rise to unprecedented violence and crime scenes. The riots affect people in various ways. In fact, the general history of partition becomes personal histories as explained in the novel Ice Candy Man. Other instances of such personal histories are pictured by various fictions like Train to Pakistan by Khushawanth Singh and Shadow Lines by Amithav Gosh.
the Novels of Bapsi Sidhwa