Explain the major socio-political issues that are addressed in ‘Toba Tek Singh’

ABSTRACT 

 Saadat Hasan Manto is one of the greatest short story writers in Urdu literature who has produced twenty two collections of short stories dealing with different subjects such as partition, human life, social taboos, communal violence, so on and so forth. His stories revolving round the subject of partition of the subcontinent after independence in 1947 are more famous and more known than his other stories. Toba Tek Singh is one such story, a masterpiece, which is interwoven with the theme of partition and its emotional and psychological effects on the human psyche. Manto very realistically depicts the division of society into different sects after the partition in the name of the religion. Toba Tek Singh tells a story of migration of Hindus and Muslims to India and Pakistan respectively after partition in the name of religion. The paper attempts to critically analyze the story as a political satire and criticize the political regimes of both India and Pakistan which divided the nation both religiously and geographically.

 

INTRODUCTION

 Saadat Hasan Manto is one of the renowned and prolific short story writers in Urdu literature, whose stories move around the social, political and cultural happenings of pre, during and post partition of India. He was born on 11th May, 1912, in Sambrala at Punjab. Manto’s stories deal with the different subjects such as partition, man-woman relationship, prostitutes, humanity, communal riots, religion and other social problems and issues prevalent in the society he belonged to. But the stories written on the partition are more famous which got him popularity and recognition as a short story writer in the history of Urdu literature. Manto’s “Toba Tek Singh” is regarded his magnum opus which tells the story of partition and its aftermath. It delineates very realistically the picture of partition and its immediate effects upon the human psyche. The story is about how after partition people were forced to migrate and leave their ancestral place unwillingly and unlawfully; and how they were divided in the name of religion spreading the religious hatred among people especially the Hindus and the Muslims. Therefore the story is a powerful political satire in which the author criticizes the political system of both India and Pakistan that is responsible for this division of people in the name of religion. It’s a powerful satire, and also a bitter indictment of the political process and behavior patterns that produced Partition. The story depicts the partition of the subcontinent and its aftermath. Manto reflects how after partition the political system of both countries India and Pakistan forces the common people to leave their native places on the basis of religion. As in the opening lines of the story, Manto says: A couple of years after the partition of the country, it occurred to the respective governments of India and Pakistan that inmates of lunatic asylums, like prisoners, should also be exchanged. Muslim lunatics in India should be transferred to Pakistan and Hindu and Sikh lunatics in Pakistani asylums should be sent to India. (Mottled Dawn 1)

Therefore, the decision of the higher authorities of both India and Pakistan that Muslims should live in Pakistan and non-Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, should go to India, divided people on the basis of religion and forced them to leave their ancestral home against their will. As a result, people experienced the sense of alienation leaving a deep and profound effect upon their psyche. Thus, in the story, Manto portrays very patently the griefs/woes of the affected families, the sad plight and tormenting experiences of the people who were displaced forcibly from their ancestral home in the name of religion. Before partition, people lived with harmony and love with one another irrespective of religion and culture. This is exemplified in the story when Bishen Singh’s old Muslim friend, Fazal Din comes to see him from Toba Tek Singh and tells him that soon he would be sent to India and he should remember him to “bhai Balbir Singh, bhai Vadhawa Singh and bahain Amrit Kaur. Tell Bhai Balbir Singh that Fazal Din is well by the grace of God. The two brown buffaloes he left behind are well too”(Mottled Dawn 6). He also brings him a gift “a nice treat from home”. Bishen Singh receives the gift and gives it to one of the guards. Thus, Manto reflects how the love and respect people from different community used to share with one another before the boundaries were drawn in the name of religion by the decision makers. But once the boundaries were drawn, all these things came to an end, thereby promoting the religious hatred among the common people. These higher officials filled their minds with religious hatred and elements of communalism. People began to hate each other on the basis of religion: A muslim lunatic from Chaniot, who used to be one of the most devo

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