|Written by Alison Spiegel|
No matter the focus, setting, or perspective, the partition of India and Pakistan will always be a gruesome and heart wrenching moment in history. Seen through the eyes of a young, polio-stricken, Parsee child in Lahore, however, this holocaust of the East assumes a uniquely candid and unfiltered quality. In Cracking India, acclaimed Pakistani author Bapsi Sidhwa tells a coming of age tale, a love story, and a war chronicle through the gaze of somewhat autobiographical Lenny, an innocent but wise child living in Lahore during the partition.Although Lenny is physically disabled, she is mentally stronger than her peers and elders assume. Her simple but discerning assessment of the atrocities of the times, as well as her keen understanding and sensitivity to the finer nuances of adult relationships – deeply emotional relationships further complicated by the ripping climate of war – make her a trustworthy and perfectly relatable narrator. Neither Hindu nor Muslim, Lenny is Parsee, offering a further removed, and thus more reliable, stance towards the times, in addition to a personal insight into an often overlooked but highly significant minority in the region. To round out this easily accessible but still greatly perceptive narrator, author Bapsi Sidhwa focuses much of her novel on Lenny’s beloved caretaker, Ayah, whose story effectively pulls at the reader’s romantic strings despite Lenny’s youthful pitch. From cast to storyline, Sidhwa truly chooses apt ingredients, perfectly suited to stir the inevitable injustice of war.