Oral historian Aanchal Malhotra's first book, Remnants of a Separation, was published in 2017 to mark the seventieth anniversary of India's Partition. It told a human history of the monumental event by exhuming the stories lying latent in ordinary objects that survivors had carried with them across the newly made border. It was acclaimed for the freshness of its approach to a decades-old, much-written-about subject. But more significantly, it inspired conversations within families: between the generation that had witnessed Partition and those who had only inherited its memories.
In the Language of Remembering, as a natural progression, explores that very notion as it reveals how Partition is not yet an event of the past and its legacy is threaded into the daily lives of subsequent generations. Bringing together conversations recorded over many years with generations of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and their respective diaspora, it looks at how Partition memory is preserved and bequeathed, its consequences disseminated and manifested within family, community and nation. With the oldest interviewees in their nineties and the youngest just teenagers, the voices in this living archive intimately and sincerely answer questions such as: Is Partition relevant? Should we still talk about it? Does it define our relationships? Does it build our characteristics or augment our fears, without us even realizing?
As the subcontinent marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Partition, In the Language of Remembering will most importantly serve as a reminder of the price this land once paid for not guarding against communal strife - and what could happen once again should we ever choose division over inclusion.
'Aanchal has [done] a great service ... The nuanced stories and experiences of Partition survivors offer an essential lens into our past and present. It is a lens that, for me, provides the only hope to move beyond distorted, jingoistic and censored state histories.' -From the Foreword by Anam Zakaria
'In the Language of Remembering is two things at once: a subtle, restrained memoir, where the author's own inner journey and questions make themselves heard, but, in the main, also an anthology that brings together the voices, memories, regrets and emotional peregrinations of so many others. Yet again, Aanchal Malhotra lifts Partition from disembodied numbers and statistics, from maps and borders, to highlight the very human nature of the tragedy, opening to us layer upon layer, and stories within stories. Featuring with honesty and respect the inner worlds of many who had sealed away their tales, In the Language of Remembering often brings a tear to the eye. But more importantly, it generates a sense of awe at the strength of which human beings are capable despite surviving the most wrenching misfortunes - even in loss they are able to find themselves and carry on.' - Manu S. Pillai, author and historian
'Compassionate, caring and insightful, Aanchal Malhotra's deeply personal enquiry traces a complex and multi-layered history to reflect on and come to terms with its many legacies. The narrative - always reflective, always questioning - stretches and crosses the boundaries of nations and politics as only stories can do, and even as it traces loss, pain and grief, and the profound impress of histories through generations, it offers that precious thing: hope.' - Urvashi Butalia, author and publisher
'It is at the intersection of history and memory - national, familial, individual - that we get an insight into how trauma unfolds over time. In this unique intergenerational account, Aanchal has given us a sensitive and precious archive.' - Ritu Menon, author and publisher
'A work of immense courage and grace. It deftly locates the intertwined personal and political traumas, both lived and inherited. Aanchal delicately redirects our gaze and imagination to generations which continue to be affected from the horrors of displacement during Partition that haunt the subcontinent to date.' - Farah Bashir, author
'This is a valuable collection of memories - and memories of memories - skillfully woven into a narrative thread that animates how much the past illuminates and intrudes into the present. The 1947 and 1971 partitions and divisions in South Asia acquire in Aanchal Malhotra's sensitive prose an immediacy and a pressing relevance, two and even three generations after the actual events. The book is a worthy sequel to Remnants of a Separation.' - T.C.A. Raghavan, author and former diplomat
'Aanchal Malhotra has written a deeply thoughtful and original work which grapples with the poignant and multiple ways that Partition memories still animate later generations. A moving and emotional meditation on South Asia's history and the way that Partition still resonates in the present.' - Yasmin Khan, author and historian
|Title:||In the Language of Remembering|