Khushwant Singh's Novel Train to Pakistan Review

We all know the tragic events that came with the Independence of India in 1947. We have heard from nowhere that train full of corpse were exchanged between India and Pakistan. Noted writer and journalist Khushwant Singh's brilliant novel 'Train to Pakistan' is about the story that built on the backdrop of Indo-Pak partition.

The novel, though a fiction, has incisively treated the India of 1947. It tells how people of different faith in the village called Mano Majra took the tragic event of partition? A partition that was done in the line of religion. The novel catches Mano Majra in its totality. It's geography, architecture, religion, and peoples' live has been described so vividly and accurately that often the village comes crystal clear in our eyes.

While reading the novel 'Train to Pakistan', like myself who has been smitten by the Khushwant Singh's first work, you would surely be full of adulation with the precision at which he narrated and build the relationship that the village Mano Majra had with the nearby railway station, and with the plying of trains between India and Pakistan.

Not enough, another aspect of the novel that would surely mesmerize you and make you feel as you are moving with the story comes with the mentioning of monsoon at the end of the plot. It invigorates life to the whole story making it very real and near to our heart.

The story takes pace and things started changing in the tiny village when dacoits kill the moneylender Lala Ram Lal and tossed a part of the looted material onto Juggat Singh's (Juggia) house. Police arrest Juggat Singh, a registered budmash in the book of law enforcers, along with social worker Iqbal Singh on the direction of the Sub-Inspector.

Along with Juggat Singh, there are many central characters in the whole story. Nooron,a muslim girl who had secret physical affair with Juggat Singh; Mali Singh, a sikh priest; Imam Baksh, a muslim cleric and Hukum Singh, a Magistrate and Deputy Commissioner of the district, are some of the main characters around which the story proceeds.

The tranquilizing peace of the tiny village, love and commotion among Hindu, muslims and sikhs get all shattered when one day a 'ghost train' arrived from Pakistan full of dead bodies. However, the arrival of the another train with the same fate poisoned the whole weather of the village.

Nooron, oblivious of the changed weather, her father Imam Baksh and the muslim committee who had been living in the Manoo Majra for centuries were truck loaded to refugee camp and later to Pakistan. If something was left behind it was only the love of Juggat Singh and Nooron, Hukum Singh's remorse of letting a girl of her daughter's age with whom he had a luscious relationship to Pakistan.

Khushwant Singh's book 'Train to Pakistan', I found very much engaging, entertaining and so to put in the words of Arthur Lall, Former Ambassador and Permanent Representative from India to the United Nations: The book continues to be the one that any reader of fiction would greatly enjoy. It deserves to be recognised as a classic.

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  1. Tridiv Says:

    One thing u missed out is Khuswant Singh's criticism on the politics of that era...
    The way he put it was one of the darkest secrets of our free India...

  2. rohit Says:

    Must be an enjoyable read Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh . loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by "to read" list.