Dotted across homes in Britain are people who were witnesses to one of the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century. Yet their memory of India’s partition has been shrouded in silence. Kavita Puri’s father was twelve when he found himself one of the millions of Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims caught up in the devastating aftermath of a hastily drawn border. For seventy years he remained silent – like so many – about the horrors he had seen.
When her father finally spoke out, opening up a forgotten part of Puri’s family history, she was compelled to seek out the stories of South Asians who were once subjects of the British Raj, and are now British citizens. Determined to preserve these accounts – of the end of Empire and the difficult birth of two nations – Puri records a series of remarkable first-hand testimonies, revealing partition’s enduring legacy in Britain today. With empathy, nuance and humanity, Puri weaves a breathtaking tapestry of human experience over a period of seven decades that trembles with life; an epic of ruptured families and friendships, extraordinary journeys and daring rescue missions that reverberates with pain, loss and compassion.
The division of the Indian subcontinent happened far away, but it is also a very British story. Many of those affected by partition are now part of the fabric of British contemporary life. Partition Voices breaks the silence and confronts the difficult truths at the heart of Britain’s shared history with South Asia.