Author Aanchal Malhotra’s debut book ‘Remnants of a Separation’ is getting a sequel

NEW DELHI: The sequel to Aanchal Malhotra’s debut book “Remnants of a Separation” will be published next month and it will bring together conversations recorded over many years with generations of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and their respective diaspora. “In the Language of Remembering: The Inheritance of Partition” is being published by HarperCollins India to coincide with the 75th year of India’s Independence and Partition.

The book serves 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, the publishers said.

The book is scheduled for release on May 10.

Malhotra says in the last decade of working as an oral historian of the 1947 Partition, she has realized that the impact of Partition does not always end with those who witnessed it.

“Through interviews with descendant generations, I noticed that some – like myself – felt shades of their ancestors’ trauma. They wanted to speak about a tragedy they had not witnessed, but which impacted them sometimes in silent ways,” she says.

“While there are multiple archives that record eyewitness memory, there are hardly any that attribute the same seriousness to descendant testimonies or even to the passage of memory from one generation to another,” she adds.

According to Malhotra, it is important for this kind of intergenerational, cross-border, oral history archive to grow as well – to understand how inherited memory may shape and re-shape present worlds.

“In the Language of Remembering” consists of interviews recorded over several years with Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, and serves as a record for how the Partition continues to impact generations of South Asians born after it.

“Remnants of a Separation” was published in 2017 to mark the 70th anniversary of 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.

“In the Language of Remembering”, as a natural progression, reveals how Partition is not yet an event of the past and its legacy is threaded into the daily lives of subsequent generations. It looks at how Partition memory is preserved and bequeathed, its consequences spread and manifested within family, community and nation.

With the oldest interviewees in their 90s 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?

Siddhesh Inamdar, executive editor at HarperCollins India, says the book is as much about India’s future as it is about the lessons drawn from the moment of the nation’s origin.

It remembers the horrors of Partition in a way that treats its survivors – across the borders of country, class and religion – with respect, he says.

According to Udayan Mitra, executive publisher at HarperCollins India, “In the Language of Remembering” explores how, through successive generations, “we have carried the memories and consequences of Partition with us, and continue to do so; how, through the stories that we remember and recount, the legacy of Partition remains with us and defines us.”

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