The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Culture Corner:
Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh; Film:
Born in Gaza

Oct 30, 2023

Book: Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh, Arthur Lall, 1956. Also, a movie of the same name, 1998, is streaming on Amazon for $1.99.

This book tells the heartbreaking story of the 1947 forced division of India into two countries defined by religion: Muslim Pakistan, and Hindu and Sikh India.

The division was a precondition for Britain to pull out of the area and its “granting” of independence to India and Pakistan. Britain fanned the flames and then pulled its army out.

The forced division tore the country apart; ten million people, families, and neighbors who had lived next door to each other for generations had now to go to entirely different countries. Conditions were dire and tense. Racial and religious prejudices of Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims were whipped up, and the tensions resulted in an enormous race riot. Whole trains were attacked, or villagers on foot were ambushed. One million people of all cultures were murdered.

The central characters in the book are a young Muslim woman and a young Sikh man, in love with each other. Both live in a small, peaceful border village yet untouched by the surrounding riots and violence. You see the intertwining of all the cultures against a backdrop of corrupt government politicians and police. Gradually, the horrific events overcome even their village.

The book is a beautiful depiction of everyday life of that time and shows how society’s racial and religious divisions can be manipulated by the ruling class to keep us at each other’s throats.

Film: Born in Gaza, 2014, streaming on Netflix

This documentary film tells the story of life in Gaza through the words of about ten children of Gaza. They describe to us how their families lived in Gaza and how they supported themselves by farming, fishing, or in retail or factory work. And they tell how the constant bombardment by Israel in the conflict of 2014 has injured or killed friends or family members and how it crippled their ability to survive. The children take you to the sites where the bombs fell and show you the tatters of their lives.

After watching this film, you gain an intimate understanding through the clear voices of the children.