In July 1947, British barrister Cyril Radcliffe was summoned to New Delhi and given five weeks to draw, on the map of the subcontinent, two zigzagged lines that would decide the future of one-fifth of the human race.
One line, 553 kilometres long, created the province of West Punjab; the other, adding up to 4,096 kilometres, carved out a province called East Bengal. Both territories joined the new-born nation of Pakistan—an event called the Partition of India, which saw one million people being butchered and another fifteen million uprooted from their homes.
Enough and more has been written about the horrors of Partition, but what of the people who actually inhabit the land through which these lines run?
Curiosity leads Bishwanath Ghosh into journeying along the Radcliffe Line—through the vibrant greenery of Punjab as well as the more melancholic landscape of the states surrounding Bangladesh—and examining, first hand, life on the border. Recording his encounters and experiences in luminous prose, Gazing at Neighbours is a narrative of historical stock-taking as much as of travel.
|Gazing At Neighbours: Travels Along The Line That Partitioned India
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