The story is about the time when the partition of India was going on. And it got divided into two parts, i.e., India, and Pakistan. The countries got divided based on religion, i.e., Muslims were transferred to Pakistan, and Hindus and other all religion people to India. Here, in the short story “A Leaf in the Storm” by “Lalithambika Antharjanam“, we will come to know about a character named “Jyoti“, who becomes the victim of the partition of India, which took place after getting the independence in 1947.
Table of Contents
The main theme of the short story “A Leaf in the Storm” are:
- The short story “A Leaf in the storm” by Lalithambika Antharjanam got published in 1948
- The short story ‘A Leaf in the storm‘, was written in Malayalam by Lalithambika Antharjanam
- It was later transferred to English by ‘Narayana Chandran’
- The short story depict the story, when the partition of India took place and got divided according to the religion
- The Muslims got transferred to Pakistan, which was in control of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who become their leader after the partition
- The Hindus and other religious people got transferred to India, which was in control of Jawaharlal Nehru
- In this short story “A Leaf in the storm” we will find a character named “Jyoti“, who was transferred from Pakistan to India as she was a non-Muslim.
- During exchanging the refugee camps, from Pakistan to India, she got brutally raped by several people, which she can’t recognize and remember.
- And become pregnant
- She was unmarried, but pregnant without knowing the identity of the father of the child inside her womb
- From the starting of the short story, we can see that 50 women have been reclaimed by the government in exchange for 50 others.
- The transport was ready and the women were exchanged, i.e., from Pakistan to India and vice-verse.
- The women were looked after well in the refugee camps. And some of them were reunited with their lost children and relatives in the camp.
- Only one woman (Jyoti) was sitting quietly in the corner of the refugee camp, was not eating anything, and rejected the crumbs of bread too.
- She wanted to finish her life but not consume anything, so she demanded a gun, a dagger, or a little poison instead of crumbs of bread/food.
- Many women in the camps were crying and sharing their baneful (harmful/destructive) lives.
- There was an old woman in the camp, who had 9 children of her own and she got 50 grandchildren from them. She was a respected woman in her village and mother to all the Hindus and Muslims.
- Her last wish was to stay in that village and take her last breath there only. So, to fullfill her wish her family stayed there, even after the partition.
- But her children were killed and girls were abducted. Her house was gutted (burnout to the ashes). And now she is all alone eating, sleeping, and talking as she had to live.
- Also, there was another woman, eating dirty bits of chapati. Her cheeks and breasts are swollen. Her clothes were torn. She was married to a big officer in Sindh.
- She set back with her children as soon as the people were warned of the revolt. But tragedy overtook her car and she could only see the blood-stained hand of her children. She was violated in front of her husband’s dead body.
- Her body was reclaimed by someone, she was brought from the railway track, which was more dead than alive. Alas, she was alive after suffering all this.
- Coming back to Jyoti, she was not consuming anything in the last four days but still, her belly remains big. And her weak conditions was informed to the camp’s doctor.
- The doctor tried hard to convince Jyoti to have some food as the life of the child is also important for this country.
- But Jyoti was fully determined to abort the child, as the child was conceived in the consequences of inhuman rape and ignorance.
- The doctor was a follower of ahimsa, so he didn’t want to kill that unborn child. And also he left his well-paying job to treat the refugees in the camp.
- He tried his best and talked like a vedantin to convince her anyhow to not abort the child and said it is the destiny of everyone to go through this situation. But they will surely overcome the storm of partition that was going on
- She then drank the milk. Maybe the doctor’s wise words or her zest for life made her do that. From that day she started having her meals properly
- Jyoti’s full name was “Jyotirmoyi Devpal” a Sikh woman told it to everyone. As the Sikh woman and Jyoti’s mother came from the same village.
- Different costumes, different languages…men, women, and children were increasing day by day in the camp.
- She had witnessed many births, more deaths and different shades of human life in the camp
- People used to gather under the big tree in the evening and talked about their life in their villages. They belonged to beautiful land of five rivers, sugarcane fields, wheats field, buffaloes grazed.
- Far away in the desert caravan of camels moves the adjacent villages. And many more things were discussed there about their day-to-day life.
- But they were thrown away from their own houses like the stray dogs
- They cursed all the well-known leaders (here leaders indicate – Jawaharlal Nehru and Muhammad Ali Jinnah) for all the mishappening going on in their life.
- Only a few people knew about her secret that is, she was unmarried and pregnant. And she was tensed that one day the baby growing inside her, will come out, willingly or unwillingly at any time.
- The next day an unusual thing happened, Jyoti saw a lifeless body of a newborn infant lying in the toilet.
- It was a beautiful baby, round, and gleaming, like a thick clot of blood. It had brown hair. And also a bluish color mark on its neck, that is, the mother had suffocated the baby to die.
- The scavengers (toilet cleaner) dragged its still-warm body and put it into the garbage.
- During the daytime, Jyoti used to stay in open places and at night she preferred to stay alone in the corner.
- One day, Jyoti had terrible back pain and felt dizzy and she thought that this is the time to deliver the baby. But nothing happened. And nobody had doubted her. As it was normal in the camp to fall sick like that.
- That day, a distinguished guest arrived. He brought a message with him, which was appreciated by all. He announced that, “Young men should be prepared to accept abducted women as their mothers, sisters and even as their wives” – Jyoti was not interested in this part.
- “Those children are indeed the citizens of India, the first citizen of a free India”- But, Jyoti listened to it carefully with open ears.
- Then Jyoti started thinking, about the fact, that the child that is going to take birth is not the result of love but, Hate. If the child wanted to take vengeance for her mother once it grows older or wanted to cross the border for that? and so on.
- When Jyoti came back to reality, she saw that the guest had left, and so did the people around her. It was late at night.
- She then got to her feet, hoping to go inside the camp from the dark yard at night
- As it was cold her body was shivering and she couldn’t walk. She felt helpless and weak.
- A pain, like a thousand bolts of lightning, enters her brain. And she was holding a tree branch to endure the pain, but for how long?
- Meanwhile hazy memories of past came in her mind
- In the village of Punjab, in a well-to-do family, a mother was in labor. The doctor and nurses were doing their things, the relatives were growing worried.
- The master of the family was sitting on the bed, his eyes fixed on the clock. They all were waiting for the results of prolonged medical treatment and virtuous deeds.
- JYOTI was born that day and she was the darling of her parents and relatives.
- She joined college despite of initial objections of the parent, whom she won over her charm.
- She also gives up the purdah (veil ritual) and shocked her people.
- She loved her freedom, which explained her refusal to settle for a marriage that others consider desirable.
- The freedom that she earned was not only for herself but for all the people who were bonded by the slavery of convention (tradition)
- But that was not easy for her, she had suffered from police brutality, and for days she had gone without food and rest. Ignoring everything she had been just focusing on uplifting women.
- And after all these efforts, this was her result! (unmarried still pregnant)
- Again back into reality, she was suffering from extreme pain and fear. Her legs were growing weaker. Her whole body was sweating.
- Was she about to give birth? She was questioning herself. Resting her head against the trunk of the tree, she took a deep sigh. She was exhausted.
- Again, she went into frightening scenes from her memory….
TO BE CONTINUED… PART 2
[…] CLICK HERE FOR –Part 1 […]
[…] The reference to the “Sindh officer’s wife had been taken from the short story “A leaf in the Storm” by Lalithambika. When the family got to know about the partition and had been warned of the […]
Means a lot😄
Keep reading 😄
Thank you for publishing with a detailed analysis
thank you very much
[…] is the second part of Questions and Answers- ‘A Leaf in the Storm‘ by Lalithambika Antharjanam, PART […]