chapter  13
The question of healing and forgetting
Disturbing realities in short stories of Ritu Menon and Uravashi Butalia
WithSonu Shiva
Pages 9

It is taken for granted that during the 1947 Indo-Pak partition (Kaul, 2001), not only were Hindus massacred by Muslims, but Muslims were also massacred by Hindus. This is a deep-rooted attitude behind years of prejudice between both the communities. Seen from the perspective of survivors, the history of partition appears very different. It is all violence for them. In this chapter, the author investigates the link between the communities, caste, and gender-based violence at the time of partition. The author draws on Urvashi Butalia’s The Other Side of Silence and Ritu Menon’s Borders and Boundaries, which narrate the inhumane experiences of women migrants and trauma faced by survivors. It is demonstrated how women in their short stories speak for themselves about the violence they faced from strangers as well as their near and dear ones, without any restrictions or dependence on critics or historians to interpret their pain. The author discusses how they were subjected to rape and abduction, given no choice of repatriation, were forced to abort or abandon children fathered by their abductors, and how they struggled to put their lives together in a state of loss of identity and belongingness. The author highlights how “memory" steps in when history fails to address the issue of dislocation and how women’s unspeakably horrifying experiences, their painful truth, and their silence remain as part of the process of healing and forgetting.