Dreams are often visions of the conscience that hold the most truth. In the novel, Cracking India, by Bapsi Sidhwa, the narrator Lenny, has a reoccurring nightmare that contains much truth about the state of India. In Lenny’s nightmare,
Children lie in a warehouse. Mother and Ayah move about
solicitously. The atmosphere is businesslike and relaxed.
Godmother sits by my bed smiling indulgently as men in
uniforms quietly slice off a child’s arm here, a leg there.
She strokes my head as they dismember me. I feel no pain.
Only an abysmal sense of loss- and a chilling horror that no
one is concerned by what’s happening (Sidhwa 31).
Lenny’s childhood nightmare is symbolic of the condition of India prior to and during the time of Partition. The future of India is being dismembered by British rule while Indians remain passive and impartial to the destruction of their country. This portrayal of India is comparable to Gandhi’s view that the British have not taken India; India has have given their country to them.
In Hind Swaraj, Gandhi suggests that India is in a state of unrest and that it will take some time for an actual awakening. Lenny’s vision of children lying in a warehouse with their guardians remaining indifferent to the suffering taking place is representative of India’s state of unrest. This suggestive state of unrest also refers to India’s tolerance of British rule. In Cracking India, the Ice-candy Man is adamant about Indians awakening from this restive state. He says, “If we want India back we must take pride in our customs, our clothes, our languages…And not go mouthing the got-pit-sot-pit of the English!” (Sidhwa 38) Similarly, Gandhi suggests that in order to take back India from ...
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...orm (Gandhi 206). According to Gandhi, the discontent that these tortured children in Lenny’s nightmare experience will force India as a nation to awaken and provide reform to stop the cries of their youth. If the leaders of India (Ayah and Godmother) can put an end to their passive behavior and answer the insistent cries of the future of their nation (Lenny), then there is hope that despite its dismembered limbs and deep cracks, India will be able to thrive once again. Sadly enough, a nightmare is only revealed in the slumber of the conscience and once the mind awakens it is readily forgotten.
Gandhi, Mahatma. “Hind Swaraj, Modern Civilization, and Moral Progress.” The Moral
and Political Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Vol. 1. London: Oxford
University Press, 1986.
Sidhwa, Bapsi. Cracking India. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 1991.
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