BY Harsimran Kaur ON Dec 22 , 2020 IN BOOK REVIEWS, freedom-at-midnight
We finally became an independent dominion on the stroke of midnight, 14th August 1947. The indispensible astrological influence had a strong bearing even on the last viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, to define the historical moment. He was the man responsible for relieving India of the subjugation to British imperialism, giving it a stamp of self-governance and self-reliance.
All this was not a smooth sail. The arduous voyage had the ship fluttering at regular intervals, the ground beneath the feet wobbled to make one fall into the tiring stream of water running across, and the flagpole drifting downwards losing its identity and sturdily. Here the ship is the vast boundary of India holding on its ground its people, fighting against the tyranny of the British Empire making an effort not to let fall their beliefs and ideals.
“Freedom at Midnight” by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins is a memoir about this voyage, impeccably drafted and presented to its reader. The book traces the inception of British reign in India – their subsequent expansions and conquest, vividly talks about the imperturbable Mahatma Gandhi with his hallmark ideology of non-violence, the vivisection of India, the affluent and unpardonable Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the very charismatic and quick-witted Mountbatten and the dark coal in the mine – Nathuram Godse.
The book takes credit of enlightening its readers with some hard facts – Jinnah’s diagnosis of Tuber culosis, Gandhi’s disapproval of dissection of India to the extent of handing over the power to Jinnah, RSSS and their hindutva ideology that gave Gandhi his final departure from this world, and the unresolved issue of Kashmir which still foments the seeds of terrorism and brutality. Also, so profound was the impact of partition in the minds of people that their minds became incapacitated ultimately leading to carnage unimaginable and undigestible.
What I personally feel that the book could have encapsulated is the unflinching sacrifices made by Bhagat Singh, Chander shekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil and other revolutionaries. Their perspective of freedom would have added more punch and resoluteness to the reader’s psyche of their interpretation of the freedom struggle.
A book for soaking abundance of knowledge, introducing its readers to myriad obstacles encountered during the freedom struggles, the admiration of mahatma Gandhi and his invincible desire to keep the Hindus and Muslims united, Nehru as a devoted protégée to Gandhi with his radical optimism to govern the country, the controversial land of Kashmir still soaking in blood to the bloody massacres and mutilations that annihilated Gandhi’s dream of a non-violent society.
The Book also looks at Gandhi’s non-violence as an approach to live life. Violence only leads to stiffness of anger and revulsion which has the ability to damage the calmness within. Adopting an attitude with restrained emotions adds value to life.