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The Sixth River: A Journal from the Partition of India


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AuthorFikr Taunsvi (Translated by Maaz Bin Bilal)
Published LanguageEnglish
Publication Year2019
PublisherSpeaking Tiger
Ships By2-3 days
SKU: ST-241 Category: Tag:


‘Deftly combining social satire with political critique, Taunsvi anticipates Manto’s Partition fiction, written after 1948… The Sixth River is a most welcome addition to the burgeoning personal narratives on Punjab’s and India’s partition.’ —Ayesha Jalal, Mary Richardson Professor of History, Tufts University

The Partition of India in 1947 left millions displaced amidst indiscriminate murders, rapes and looting. The Sixth River, originally published as Chhata Darya, is an extraordinary first-person account of that violent time.

Born Ram Lal Bhatia in the town of Taunsa Sharif, then in the Punjab, Fikr Taunsvi left for the cosmopolitan city of Lahore in the 1930s. Here he worked with various newspapers, wrote poetry and articles, and became a part of the intellectual circle. But when independence was announced, Fikr was faced with a new reality—of being a Hindu in his beloved city, now in Pakistan.

The Sixth River is the journal Fikr wrote from August to November 1947 as Lahore disintegrated around him. Fikr is angry at the shortsightedness and ineptness of Radcliffe, Nehru, Gandhi and Jinnah. In the company of likeminded friends such as Sahir Ludhianvi, he mourns the loss of the art and culture of Lahore in the bloodlust and deluded euphoria of freedom; and derides the newly converted, who adopted stereotypical religious symbols. He is bewildered when old friends suddenly turn staunch nationalists and advise him to either convert or leave the country. And the deep, unspeakable trauma millions faced during Partition reaches Fikr’s doorstep when his neighbour murders his daughter, and when he is eventually forced to migrate to Amritsar in India.

Powerful, ironic and deeply harrowing, The Sixth River is an invaluable account of the Partition. This brilliant translation by Maaz Bin Bilal makes the classic available in English for the first time.

About the author
Fikr Taunsvi was the pen name of Ram Lal Bhatia (7 October 1918–12 September 1987), a noted Urdu satirist and columnist, born in Taunsa Sharif, which now lies in Pakistan. He is most well-known for his popular column of social satire, ‘Pyaz ke Chhilke’, or ‘Onion Skins’, that he wrote for the Urdu daily Milap. Fikr published over twenty books in Urdu, including Chhata Darya, Chaupat Raja, Fikriyat, Fikr Bani, Fikr Nama, Aakhri Kitab, and at least eight in Hindi. He also wrote social comedy for television, including the series Fikr ne Kaha with a writer, Fikr, as its central character.Maaz Bin Bilal (b. 1986) (translator) is associate professor in literary studies at the liberal arts school of Jindal Global University. He earned his PhD from Queen’s University Belfast in 2015 for his dissertation on the politics of friendship in E.M. Forster’s work. Maaz is also a translator, poet, and critic. He was Charles Wallace Fellow in Writing and Translation in Wales in 2018. Ghazalnama: Poems from Delhi, Belfast, and Urdu published in 2019 is his first collection of poems.

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