A Time of Madness

by Salman Rashid

Category: Memoir/Autobiography, Non-Fiction

‘On the twentieth day of March 2008, I headed home for the first time in my life… Walking east across the border gates at Wagah I was on my way to the fulfilment of a family pietas of very long standing. I was going to a home I had never known; a home in a foreign land, a land that state propaganda wanted me to believe was ‘enemy territory’. But I knew it as a country where my ancestors had lived and died over countless generations. That was the home where the hearth kept the warmth of a fire first kindled by a matriarch many hundred years, nay, a few thousand years, ago and which all of a sudden had been extinguished in a cataclysm in 1947.’

During the chaos of Partition in 1947, something dreadful happened in the city of Jalandhar in Punjab. As a result of this, Salman Rashid’s family fled Jalandhar for Pakistan, the newly created country across the border. They were among the nearly two million people uprooted from their homes in the greatest transmigration in history. Besides those who fled, other members of the family became part of a grimmer statistic: they featured among the more than one million unfortunate souls who paid with their lives for the division of India and creation of Pakistan.

After living in the shadow of his family’s tragedy for decades, in 2008, Rashid made the journey back to his ancestral village to uncover the truth. A Time of Madness tells the story of what he discovered with great poignancy and grace. It is a tale of unspeakable brutality but it is also a testament to the uniquely human traits of forgiveness, redemption and the resilience of the human spirit.

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