The Other Side Of Silence, By Urvashi Butalia

1662 words - 7 pages

Urvashi Butalia in her book, The Other Side of Silence, attempts to analyze the partition in Indian society, through an oral history of Indian experiences. The collection of traumatic events from those people who lived through the partition gives insight on how history has enveloped these silences decades later. Furthermore, the movie 1947 Earth reveals the bitterness of partition and its effect of violence on certain characters. The most intriguing character which elucidates the silence of the partition is the child, Lenny. Lenny in particular the narrator of the story, serves as a medium to the intangibility created by the partition. The intangibility being love and violence, how can ...view middle of the document...

And it has cost me fifty years of remorse, of sleepless nights, I cannot forget the faces” (Butalia, p66). The vivid details left as silence because the silence represents the inability to cope, understand or believe in the unjust horrors committed during the partition. Furthermore, this unjust silence is expressed through the children of Earth.
Lenny grows up with groups she holds dear to her innocence, a groups consisting of a Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim. Most of the scenes show the livelihood of the group, they are shown laughing and talking in a park. This is the essence of the park. Lenny asks her mother if she will be able to get to the park if the British break India apart. The park shares great significance to Lenny, it is her safe haven and place of recreation, the park is never silent. Moreover, the park serves as a medium of interaction and unity between the Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims. In one particular scene, the park is loud as usual, but we are introduced to a silent Lenny as partition discussions arise. The others argue over which group will self-rule India, while all this is taking place Lenny is speechless. Her observant behavior is only broken when she wants to play, this scene in particular shows the child’s inability to understand the potential danger within her community, it is absent from her mind. At this point, Lenny has no understanding of communal violence, she only has experience the medium Lahore Park serves, a community united.
In contrast with Lenny’s silence, Butalia states, “Memories of partition, the horror and brutality…nothing as cruel and bloody happened in my own family so far as I knew, but I began to realize that partition was not a closed chapter of history” (Butalia, p55). Butalia was not exposed to the silence of the partition because she possessed the innocence of a ‘child’. Lenny doesn’t understand the upheaval transcending into the partition. This silence is a stain of her innocence, and is deeper explored when Lenny attends the wedding of her friend. A young girl whose family were servants to Lenny’s family. Furthermore, the young girl is converting to Christianity by marrying a Christan. This is done as a preemptive measure to avoid being a victim of the partition. Little do we know the husband to be is an elderly man. Lenny and her friend are at a loss of words. They are unable to comprehend the marriage, and the groom tries to play with her doll. Moreover, the doll serves an important symbol to silence. Lenny is usually seen with a doll when she’s not in the company of her friends. The relationship with the doll exemplifies the comfort within silence. Dolls cannot speak, hate, and they do not blame each other over land being divided, and therefore, offer the comfort of confinement. Lenny escapes the problematic discussions of partition with her doll.
In midst of the partition, much violence took place in Kaflias. More in-depth, Butalia explains “Everywhere along the route, whether people were on...

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