The Way of Heaven in Amitav Gosh’s River of Smoke

“Our longing for the imagined health of the past must be a sign of the sickness of the present” (Bate 2). Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke looks back at a time in the past that is important as it is the site of contest for two ways of life, two different ways of looking at culture and nature and two very different set of peoples. The past it looks at is not totally free of rot. Yet, it has its moments of glimpses to a health that is not imagined but real. There are two pasts of China when one looks at the narrative: the reader’s past and the narrator’s past. The reader’s past includes the narrator’s past and present and the time between the opium wars and today. The narrator’s present is full of the physic-moral sickness induced by opium but his past is glorious, with a balance of yin and yang and oneness with nature. That’s not all, because there is an array of possibilities to be explored. When seen through the twin lenses of ecocriticism and postcolonialism the novel presents a wide and interesting vista. These two ways of looking at the world have been yoked together, not unnaturally or violently, but because they have a common denominator of questioning the exploitative nature of humanity, and demanding equality: for humans and for all the elements of nature respectively. Ghosh’s novel is informed by his critical gaze at the anthropocentric, Eurocentric and materialistic human beings in general, and the West in particular. The suffix –centric that is used in the previous sentence is quite dangerous. It is true, particularly in the case of this paper, that this suffix is generally attributed derogatorily in an ex post facto manner to an object that has been conclusively proven to be ridiculously, clearly and absolutely wrong. Copernicus et. al. proved the Aristotelian geocentric view of the universe wrong. The German High Criticism proved the absolute theocentric certainty of the Bible wrong. Ecocentrism challenges the humanist and Biblical anthropocentrism to prove it wrong, while ironically leaving the curse of –centrism free to work on it. The troika of Bacon, Descartes and Leibniz, and after them, the Enlightenment thinkers established it firmly (and anthropocentrically) that the human mind is the medium though which the world is created using reason and sense experience as guides. The modern scientific method of observation leading to hypothesis, experiments and formation of theories that are universally valid, even eternally so, was invented in the seventeenth century. That method seeped into the realms of knowledge now called sciences, including social sciences, critical theory etc. Very characteristically, one of the latest progenies of the method- ecocentrism – happens to be one of the most perceptive and harshest critics of the myth of the objective scientific method and of the grand narrative of the Enlightenment scientific progress. River of Smoke (henceforth RS) yields rich dividends to a logical ecocentric analysis but it must be kept in mind that it does the same from a postcolonial perspective too. In fact, it is a fictional work in the postcolonial post pastoral mould that keeps defying definition all the time. Curiously the writer/narrator attempts only to critique the exploitative free trade system of the Raj on a historico-economical basis. Yet, there are a plethora of critical possibilities that open up in the text and contain strands intertwined with the post pastoral convention and the (in)human exploitation of the earth and of the less powerful. In contrast to the characters that have power and exploit nature, there is a circle of people centred on nature. It contains Commissioner Lin, Pauline and her father, Penrose and Robin. Those closer to the centre – like Pauline and her father – worship nature, but the points on the periphery look at it as a substance for human consumption and utilization with aesthetic and economical advantages. People outside the circle have no time to think about a thing as unimportant as nature. People in the novel, except Commissioner Lin, generally view nature anthropocentrically. Commissioner Lin, one of the very few persons portrayed as totally devoid of the taint of evil, speaks axiomatically about the “Way of Heaven” asserting that people choose life over death and good over evil asserting their free will. The Commissioner, who may also stand for the Chinese wisdom that sees yin and yang or the opposing forces composing the universe, also strengthens the post pastoralness of his part of the novel in his recognition of the “creative–destructive universe equally in balance in a continuous momentum of birth and death, death and rebirth, growth and decay, ecstasy and dissolution” (Gifford 153). It is the way of heaven from which those who are out of the circle have strayed. They are the blind and mindless destroyers of nature. There is a complete continuum of positions taken inside the circle of nature: from its cognizant and sustainable users that are all anthropocentric to its worshippers qua nature, deep ecological to the core. The stream of anthropocentric knowledge that has been highlighted in the novel is horticulture, one of most refined branches of agriculture. All –cultures in agriculture, the science of sustaining human life on this earth through plant products are strongly anthropocentric. For instance, they neatly classify plants into weeds and non-weeds and instill in humanity the hatred of weeds, converting them into deadly and committed weed killers, although weeds are but plants, whose products have no mass demand in markets. Mr. Penrose was a devoted horticulturalist who had made fortune through his innovative and bold utilization of the natural resources of the world. He looked upon nature “as an assortment of puzzles, many of which, if properly resolved, could provide rich sources of profit” (RS 47). His practical approach towards nature can be judged rightly through his response to the wilderness that the Botanical Gardens of Port Louis had turned into. It was irksome to his eyes that the symmetrical beauty of an English garden was no more, in its place was nature’s plenty in all its varieties of vegetation from various continents. “In Nature there existed no forest where African creepers were at war with Chinese trees, nor one where Indian shrubs and Brazilian vines were locked in a mortal embrace. This was a work of Man, a botanical Babel” (RS 23). It was this man-made storehouse of botanical riches that had forced Penrose to include Port Louis in Redruth’s itinerary. Even while “mourning” for its fallen state Penrose was forming schemes of benefiting from whatever he could lay his hands on, as it had no owner. It was the same mentality with which the white races had always colonized and snatched lands from others. He was intensely and intelligently immersed in his work of making profit from plants, and this made him invent whatever made his work easier. The process of making technological advances so that nature can be exploited more easily was repeated in his case too. It was his purely egocentric gaze on nature that had enabled Penrose to extract a fortune from it. What troubled him the most was that the changing times had increased the number of competitors in the market of exotic flora; hence the extent of exploitation of nature too must have increased. Imperialism and colonization were the bringers of death and destruction of native flora, fauna, cultures and human beings. As Lenin had rightly pointed out in his “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”, capitalism in its crassest and most dangerously exploitative form was called imperialism. So, it sucked the marrow out of nature’s bone after having fed on its flesh heartily. It had an insatiable appetite for profit and was essentially anthropo-, and generally, Eurocentric. For the Penroses of the world, the natural world around them aroused just a sense of curiosity, never awe. They are genuinely interested, but they don’t see any mystery in the phenomena of nature. In other words, they don’t fit in the scheme of the temple of nature as its priests. That role is left for the people like Pierre Lambert. To know better about the way he looked at nature and its majesty, one has to have an entirely differently cast mind. For him “the love of Nature had been a kind of religion, a form of spiritual striving: he had believed that in trying to comprehend the inner vitality of each species, human beings could transcend the mundane world and its artificial divisions” (RS 47). He was a botanist for whom horticulture was a form of spiritual communion with nature, nay, with the spirit of the earth. Paulette, trained by her father had inherited a worshipful love of nature. Lambert was her biological and intellectual father at the same time and she was made in his image, although not as purely ecocentrally and selflessly as he. She did find Penrose, her quasi-father with his resolve to extract a living from what nature had in it, a better fit in the order of nature than her father. Robin, with his artist’s sensibility and trained eyes that saw aspects of nature’s beauty missed by others, still remained atavistically ensconced in the Renaissance humanistic anthropocentrism. Penrose’s sons disappointed him because they had no interest in botany and plants were just like any other item of merchandise for them. Yet, he was different only in according nature comparatively more importance than them while remaining firmly anthropocentric. He was, after all, a western man and an imperialist too. In the beginning, “the cultures of most primal societies throughout the world were permeated with Nature-oriented religions that expressed the ecocentric perspective. These cosmologies, involving a sacred sense of the Earth and all its inhabitants, helped order their lives and determine their values” (Sessions 158). With the passage of time, amongst the religions and philosophies of the world, various eastern or pagan religions stayed close to nature while the western philosophy and religion became anthropocentric from the pagan ecocentrism and animism. It was Aristotle who had firmly established a geocentric universe with man at the top of the Great Chain of Beings: as Nature made plants for the use of the animals and both for man’s use. Penrose is a man, and for him nature is a source of things that he uses for his benefit. His ship is made in his image, with nothing fanciful and his eyes were always on profit that was huge. The plants he had chosen for the Chinese connoisseurs were handpicked from the Americas. antirrhinums, lobelias and georginas… the ‘Mexcian Orange’ and a beautiful new fuchsia… Gaultheria shallon, a plant both ornamental and medicinal, and a magnificent new conifer… Shrubs were not neglected either: the flowering currant, in particular, was a species for which Fitcher had very high hopes. (RS 47) He had planned to exchange the plants never seen in China for those never seen in the west, making neat profit in the process. All his inventiveness and his spirit were devoted to his own self and not to any other entity. He is just one of the many imperial explorers, horticulturalists and botanists who saw nature especially that of the colonies, as something to be acquired and exploited for profit. As is made clear in the novel, Holland and France were also making similar ventures in the field of horticulture. Sir Joseph Banks, the Curator of the King’s Garden at Kew, had collected plants for display from the remotest parts of the world. Only China, “– a country singularly blessed in its botanical riches, being endowed not only with some of the most beautiful and medicinally useful plants in existence, but also with many that were of immense commercial value” was not equally represented as it was not so heavily exploitable (RS 61). The reason behind it was that the Celestials were clearly aware of the value of nature and they did not allow the western barbarians to invade and destroy their nature. Even when some success brought them in possession of the much yearned for plant specimens, it was very difficult to transport them across the seas as the seamen who were in charge of the plants on board looked at the plants as some kind of “threat”, as their competitor who had eyes on the water that was essential for their existence. The imperial explorers/exploiters of nature had devised ingenious ways of doing their work. Explorers in the eighteenth century couldn’t take any live specimens with them, so they took dried specimens (seeds) with them. They even devised a “painted garden”, i.e. painted pictures of the specimens, some kind of a catalogue, to plan future exploitative excursions on. They finally did succeed in bringing the Chinese flora to enrich the European landscape. “Hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, flowering plums, tree peonies, the first repeat-flowering roses, crested irises, innumerable new gardenias, primroses, lilies, hostas, wisterias, asters and azaleas” were all Chinese imports (RS 73). To top it all came Cunningham’s find – the horticultural Holy Grail, the Golden Camellia – that was reputed to be the eternal font of youth. It is the search for this flowering plant that makes the most important sub-plot of the novel, with two of the five central characters involved. The novel focuses an ecocritical glance on the nineteenth century human exploitation of nature. In addition to showing how those who ruled, the imperial powers and the dominant human races, exploited fellow humans and nature, the novel also shows that nature is the voiceless and powerless entity that is exploited even by the most powerless humans. When Paulette looks at the island of Kowloon, what she saw is proleptic of modern man’s mindless destruction of the life sustaining nature: The vegetation was sparse and lacking in interest: such trees as there may once have been had been hacked down by the people who lived in the impoverished little villages that were scattered around the island’s rim. They had done a thorough job of it too, for almost nothing remained now but a few stunted trunks and wind-twisted branches (RS 120). She finds the sparsely populated Hong Kong more attractive. From where Redruth was anchored, the human habitations couldn’t be seen. Rice fields were everywhere and the mainlanders were not interested in such an island. Nature offered clean drinking water in abundance in the form of streams and the ships were drawn there because of the same. Even Paulette is not a nature worshipper in a totally egoless manner. The thrill one got in wandering in the forests of china and “be to botanize in these vast and beautiful wilds” attracted her a lot. It is ironical that the nurseries run by the professional gardeners on the island of Honam were the place from where all the plants introduced to Europe came, and not from the forests. The civilized barbarians were not allowed to come in contact with nature in China. They are denied this opportunity because the Chinese know their real intentions. One of the greatest power someone may have over something is the power to name them. it was this power that man had over nature and the power was exercised to its fullest when Linnaeus gave it the scientific format of classification and binominal nomenclature. It was the same power that made Penrose exclaim that she had found something new, and Paulette “discovers and names” Diploprora penrosii. Robin’s letter contrasts the crowded Canton with Honam, which is compared to a huge, green and wooded park. The tone clearly conveys his preference. He is there on his quest for the Holy Grail of Cunningham and Penrose. He is full of praise for the way in which the pots were “skilfully grouped to create an impression of a landscape… these natural features… endlessly mutable… reconfigured with the passing of the seasons, or perhaps even to suit the daily moods of its custodians” (RS 182). His praise is an epitome of self-contradiction. It is given to a heavily artificial panorama of nature that is changed according to the aesthetic choices, wishes and fancies of humans. The point is, that they intensify the effects of seasons and generate a concentrated kind of “artificial/pseudo” season in themselves. It is his celebration of the unreal that a Baudrillard would find very interesting. His mindset finds a correlative in the European’s taming of the wilderness, yet maintaining the pretense of nature in designing gardens, landscapes and improved “views”. Ironically, it is the same person talking about the possibility of the transfer of the Redruth consignment to an island: “plants were not meant to grow on ships, were they, Puggly dear? and it does seem cruel to deprive them of their natural element when it lies so close at hand” (RS 260). In the very next instant his anthropocentrism reasserts itself and he suggests that a nursery should be set on the same spot as it’d yield rich future dividends. The enigmatic painter has a visionary’s capacity to throw surprisingly accurate analyses reached through his intuitive sight. His connecting opium and flowers and equating the relation to the abstract ideas of evil and beauty is one such case. The city of Canton had gifted the western world with the choicest of the flowers and also changed the way it viewed gardens and nature. What it had got in return was the permanent curse of slavery to opium. He prophesys that one day, when everything else is forgotten, Canton will be remembered for its flowers that are “immortal and will bloom for ever” (RS 320). Ah Fey’s story is the point where the novel’s postcolonial concern meets the ecocritical one. The man who tells his story as a boy is known to Robin as Mr. Chan. The Eurocentric, anthropocentric men of the Western money making machines can only give contempt, mistreatment and hatred to a fifteen year old Chinese gardener. Although his had been the driving intelligence, success was attributed to a white man, Mr. Kerr. In contrast to Robin’s praise for the gardens of China, Ah Fey hates the best one of Britain. After the kind of treatment he received, to his eyes, Kew is “not a garden but an untended wilderness” (RS 265). Here, it is true, anthropocentrism is clearly discernible. Yet, in an ecocentric character like Ah Fey, for whom plants are more important than his own self, it is not a blemish. In fact, it acts as a medium to make the west’s “taming” and exploitation of nature and of the colonized peoples clearer. Works Cited Bate, Jonathan. The Song of the Earth. Picador: London, 2007. Print. Ghosh, Amitav. River of Smoke. 2011. n.d. Web. DOC. 27 November 2011. Gifford, Terry. Pastoral. Routledge: London, 1999. Print. Lenin, V.I. “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”. May 1997. Web. 22 March 2012. Sessions, George. “Ecocentrism and the Anthropocentric Detour”. Deep Ecology for, the Twenty-first Century. Ed. George Sessions. Shambhala: London, 1995. Print.


Borders, Violence and Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines

“Everyone lives in a story… because stories are all there are to live in, it was just a question of which one you choose” (The Shadow Lines 109)


Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines (TSL) is a story that arises out of the narrator’s reminiscences, recollected in tranquility and looked at with all the wisdom of the hind sight. It is about essentialization as a process, and its questioning in various ways. Essentialization is a very dangerously deceptive thing, especially when its purpose is a neat compartmentalization of human beings on the basis of subjective traits. Even then, sustaining the definition of water tight compartments of humanity becomes very difficult when homogeneity tends to erase the well defined boundaries, making them blurred and shadowy. One of the many appealing facets of TSL is the way it looks at the accident that descended on the pages of history: the creation of two nations on the basis of the incompatibility of two religious groups and their mutual hatred. East and West Pakistan were carved out of the British India on the basis of the two nation theory that totally opposed any possibility of co-existence. Boundaries were created and people were forced to alter their lives and selves to accommodate them to the conceptual nations that the powerful persons had created.


TSL shows the plight of the narrator’s grandmother and her loss of the sense of secure moorings; a point of reference to which one returns for assurance. Her loss was caused due to the borders imposed on her. In his Modern Political Geography Richard Muir defines boundaries that “occur where the vertical interfaces between state sovereignties intersect the surface of the earth…As vertical interfaces, boundaries have no horizontal extent” (qtd. inAnderson 172). Tha’mma would have been perplexed with Muir’s elegantly defined boundaries that only existed in the conceptual space. In her own simple way she “wanted to know whether she would be able to see the border between India and East Pakistan from the plane” (TSL 90). She wasn’t looking for a line as such, but for some indicator of demarcation.


Hindus and Muslims, unlike the White and Black peoples, have no phenotypical inherent traits to tell them from each other. They shared land, culture and more than a thousand years of history. They had lived together, happily or unhappily, peacefully or struggling for survival on the same resource base. They would have kept doing the same had their fates not been manipulated by those who had assumed God-head, with its power, will, means and knowledge. The gods had developed a line of reasoning that showed the two categories of Hindus and Muslims as completely irreconcilable and essentially antagonistic. Their ideas found fruition in the first nation of the world that was constructed purely on the basis of religion:Pakistan, or the land of the holy. The asserts confidently:

As early as in the beginning of the 11th century, Al-Biruni observed that Hindus differed from the Muslims in all matters and habits…The speech made by Quaid-i-Azam atMintoPark,Lahoreon March 22, 1940 was very similar to Al-Biruni’s thesis in theme and tone. In this speech, he stated that Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, with different social customs and literature…He emphasized that in spite of the passage of about 1,000 years the relations between the Hindus and Muslims could not attain the level of cordiality.

The Muslim fundamentalists were inadvertently but ably supported by the Hindu right wing. Leaders ranging from Quaid-e-Azam to Guruji had supported and established in the popular imagination the mutually exclusive and entirely essentialist categories of Hindus and Muslims. Their efforts bore fruit by contributing towards the establishment of these categories as parallels to the imagined communities of nations.Andersondefines nation as “an imagined political community… inherently limited and sovereign”(6). Despite all differences and conflicts, the members of this imagined community have a strong sense of belonging. “It is generally recognized that the intelligentsia were central to the rise of nationalism in the colonial territories… [their] vanguard role derived fro their… literacy and bilingualism” (Anderson116). It was the intelligentsia who had started the process. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was one of the first to broach the issue of fundamental incompatibility. Allama Iqbal had called the idea of territorially divided loyalties to nations as one of the modern inventions and an enemy of the solidarity of the Muslim “umma”. He was right about the imaginary and inventedness of nations, asAndersontoo would assert five decades later.


History does not prove Iqbal’s claim of the solidarity of the inherently heterogeneous Muslim umma that cuts across innumerable linguistic and geographical boundaries right, as is clear from the present unrest in Pakistan itself.  The Hindu-Muslim rift was deepened, widened and clearly defined in the decades enveloping 1900. It is from then same time period that one may trace the unbroken lineage of the monster of communal hatred – communal riots – in the Indian subcontinent. The demographics specific to the subcontinent facilitated its origin and growth. Hindus or Muslims, whether they formed an absolute majority in a geographical region and felt secure in their numerical strength, or they were a minority, and the potential victims of persecution on the basis of the religion of their birth: in each case there was a way to communalize masses. The mass paranoia of the inevitable discrimination based on religion was fed and raised to a heightened pitch by those who had the most to benefit from such circumstances. Public fear was roused in order to gain political mileage and what came out of it was natural and logical.


Ironically, the partition of the two nations joined them even more closely and strongly. So strongly, that an event inIndia’s northern most state ofJammu and Kashmircaused riots in both Indian and Pakistani parts of the subcontinent on both sides of the border. The same happened after 8 December 1992, whileIndiawas spilling its blood, so wasBangladeshwhere “Muslims attacked and burnt down Hindu temples and shops … At least 10 people have died, many Hindu women have been raped, and hundreds of Hindu homes and temples have been destroyed” (“Chronology for Hindus inBangladesh”). One strong similarity between the two riots is the presence of the desecration of the religious symbols at their core: “the sacred relic known as the Mu-i-Mubarak – believed to be a hair of the Prophet Mohammad himself” and the mosques at Ayodhya, Mathura and Kasi or Varanasi (TSL 135). Politicians were behind inciting the masses into violent action, and in keeping the government machinery inert while they went on a rampage, on both sides of the borders of time and space. TSL has a number of lines of action and the one that’s red with blood is etched very clearly in its second half.


India’s test series againstEnglandwas to begin on 10 January 1964 inMadras. It was on that fateful date that the narrator of TSL was to taste what the fear of an unknown “they” meant. In his comparatively empty school bus he was introduced to the faith inducing powers of rumors. Most of the students had not brought water that day because the rumor of “their” poisoning all the water ofCalcuttahad already spread. The very psychology of the unchallengeable and pre-validated logic of rumors brings back to my mind the post riot curfew days of 1991, when morning rumors were congealed and solidified by the evening. In those days the two dailies: Aj in the morning and Gandeev in the evening, were the only source of local information for people thirsty for any snippets that could confirm or prove wrong whatever they had heard throughout the day. More than that, they needed objective justification of their own prejudices. Just like the little boys in TSL, they “did not need to ask any question… [they] knew the answers… it was a reality that existed only in the saying” (TSL 120).


TSL show violence through its presence in the background and its pervading the atmosphere, also through its turning into silence, through its conversion into a recurring nightmare, and finally, through the narration of the one graphical act of violence that left a permanent scar on the lives of its witnesses (Robi, May and Tha’mma). The January 1964 riots, that BBC rightly called “the first incident of religious violence since 1950” in India spread on both sides of the border. They are portrayed not so much as direct acts of violence as through the tension and fear created in the minds of the children (the narrator and his schoolmates in one case and Robi in the other). This tension and the unmentioned yet ever discernible fear create an atmosphere that becomes a character in itself – an important determiner of actions and lives. It is this tension and fear in the atmosphere that brings back to my mind a series of reminiscences from the Varanasi riots of 1991-92, the chaos, the heat, and how it was felt by those on the extreme periphery of any active involvement or loss. Fear is central in both the cases: of fictional and real lives. In TSL there is an elemental fear of violence that the children in the bus feel when they hear the noise of the rioting mob, and later when they were followed by one. They could not compare it to anything else in their experience and the narrator later opines insightfully:


It is a fear that comes of the knowledge that normalcy is utterly contingent, that the spaces that surround one, the streets that one inhabits, can become, suddenly and without warning, as hostile as a desert in a flash flood. It is this that sets apart the thousand million people who inhabit the subcontinent from the rest of the world – not language, not food, not music – it is the special quality of loneliness that grows out of the fear of the war between oneself and one’s image in the mirror (122).


Fear of that kind is ever present. Always ready to rise in the hearts of the trapped people, making them feel cornered enough to plan retaliation and contribute to the vicious cycle of violence that begets violence. A similar fear was in the air back in 1991-92 also. Instead of treating the parallel at an emotional and personal level, the present paper attempts to incorporate the analogical streams of 1964 and 1991-92 riots in showing their pattern. It does not try to hide differences, if there, e.g. one major difference between them was that the 1964 riots were relegated to the narrow columns of the last pages of the news papers, but the 1991-92 riots (coming right after the infamous 1989 Varanasi riot) was very widely covered and reported about. The narrator painfully realized it when he mentioned the riots of 1964 to his friends and they accepted being completely ignorant of it.


“Real” life enters fiction and a history treads cautiously into the orbit of narration when a historical novel touches a real life event. TSL’s narrative is woven around the historically real incidents with complete details of their occurrence. Everything is treated in such a manner that the reader is forced to suspend all disbelief willingly, effortlessly, even colluding with the narrator/writer; more so, when dates and numbers are woven into the story. 10 January 1964, when the first match of the test series was to begin, and its co-incidence with the riot’s entering the life of the narrator is a clever device. A detailed account of the events that led to the riots is given in the novel. On 27 December 1963 Mu-i-Mubarak disappeared. There were some incidents of people’s damaging public property, but their anger was directed against the government and not against any particular religious community. Moreover, the protesters belonged to all the religions. Pandit Nehru sent CBI to the valley and the relic was recovered. Yet the damage was already done. The Pakistani “religious authorities, usually so quick to condemn idolatry, declared that the theft of the relic was an attack upon the identity of Muslims.Karachiobserved 31 December as a ‘Black Day’, and soon other cities followed suit. The Pakistani newspapers declared that the theft was part of a deep-laid conspiracy for uprooting the spiritual and national hopes of Kashmiris, and rumbled darkly about ‘genocide’” (TSL 136).


In the East Pakistani town ofKhulnathe demonstrators against the disappearance of the relic turned against the minority Hindus and many lives were lost. As Trivedi reports, the riots soon spread all overEast Pakistan. The whiplash was soon felt inCalcuttaas refugees from East Pakistan fled toIndia. On 10 January, mobs went on a rampage, killing Muslims and destroying their property. Army was called when the situation went out of control. The violence was stopped and everything went back to normal, as the narrator declares: “By the end of January 1964 the riots had faded away from the pages of the newspapers, disappeared from the collective imagination of ‘responsible opinion’, vanished without leaving a trace in the histories and bookshelves. They had dropped out of memory into the crater of a volcano of silence” (TSL 138). Individual paranoia, worked onto a feverish pitch, had been and can be conjugated at macro level to create concerted and planned violent action called a riot. The Indian sub-continent had been a witness to many such planned blood baths whose origin lies in the establishment of the two nation theory in the collective psyche. Such were the fruits of the tree of hatred whose seed was sown around the beginning of the twentieth century.



Works Cited


“1964: Riots inCalcuttaleave more than 100 dead”. n.d. Web. 27 November 2011.


Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso:London, 1991. Print.


“Chronology for Hindus inBangladesh”. n.d. Web. 25 February 2012

Ghosh, Amitav. The Shadow Lines. n.d. Web. 27 November 2011. DOC.


“The Ideology ofPakistan: Two-Nation Theory”. 1 June 2003. Web. 23 February 2012.


Trivedi, Rabindranath. “The Legacy of the plight of Hindus inBangladesh- Part-VII”. 23 July 2007. Web. 23 February 2012.