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Title: Madness as a Critique of State-sponsored Violence: A Study of the Mad Fellows in Select Partition Stories of Saadat Hasan Manto
Authors: Ali, Mir Ahammad
Keywords: Psychoanalysis
Mental Health
Pathological neurosis
Traumatic disorders
Progressive Writers’ Movement
State-sponsored partition violence
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Vidyasagar University , Midnapore , West Bengal , India
Series/Report no.: Journal of the Department of English;Vol 13 No 1 [2020]
Abstract: One of the recent trends in the field of Partition Studies is to focus on the psychological / traumatic aspect of violence. The Partition of Indian Union territory along the communal lines led to large-scale sectarian violence, on the one hand, and massive population transfer and subsequent problems of readjustment in an alien land, on the other. An estimated number of fifteen million people were displaced from their own homeland and a few millions more were brutally killed, raped and looted by the rival communities in the wake of partition. Apart from these sorts of physical violence, the victims had also suffered from mental or psychological violence in the forms of panic attack, pathological neurosis, paranoia, traumatic disorder, aggressive behaviour, and madness both at the individual and the collective level. This new interface between ‘Partition Violence’ and ‘Mental Health’ (Psychoanalysis or Trauma Studies) is a space which requires to be explored. There are very few short story writers who had justly captured this psychological aspect of Partition. One remarkable Urdu writer who had successfully been able to depict this in his stories is none other than Sadat Hassan Manto. One of the most remarkable voices of the Progressive Writers’ Movement, Manto, had undoubtedly outshined his contemporaries not only in chronicling the Partition-induced “pornography of violence” in realistic terms, shedding aside any “thick veil of hypocrisy” (Jalal 26), but also succeeded in digging deep into the psyche of millions, both the affected ones and the perpetrators of partition violence. A large number of his characters are, in fact, underdogs from the black/dark margins of society like prostitutes, pimps, beggars, lunatics, thieves, sex-alcoholics, criminals and they are labelled as mad/insane, fallen or ignominious in one way or the other by the so-called ‘civilized’ society. It is largely the narrow territorial politics of the nation-state and the hypocrisy/bigotry of the religion that make them act/behave in such chaotic ways. A good number of characters in the stories like Bishan Singh in “Toba Tek Singh”, Qasim in “Sharifan” (sugar-apple), the unnamed old woman in “Khuda Ki Kasam” (In the name of the God), Ramkhelawan in the titular story, the rapists of Sakina in “Khol Do” (Open It), Ishwar Singh and his beloved Kulwant Kaur in “Thanda Gosht” (Cold Flesh/Meat), Santokh Singh in “Gurumukh ki Wasiyat” (The Will of Gurumukh), or Mozail in the titular story suffer from either trauma, or pathological aggression or madness. Like Manto, who considers Partition as “maddeningly senseless”, these characters too feel that partition itself is a pathology sponsored by the state. Their disorders merely question the fixed paradigm of the sane/insane binary and fundamentally critique the state-sponsored partition violence. This paper thus seeks to engage in a psychoanalytical exploration of two Mantovian stories “Toba Tek Singh” and “Sharifan” and locate the roots of their madness.
ISSN: 09733671
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Department of English - Vol 13 No 1 [2020]

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