In an extremely well crafted account of Saadat Hasan Manto's contemporary relevance to the subcontinent and his place in its intellectual history, “Curator of a hollowed conscience,” (May 11), Ayesha Jalal makes a very significant methodological and political point. We are at a çrossroads of an animated debate on the crisis in the social sciences. Inter-disciplinarity across the social sciences and humanities is increasingly seen as critical to the reinvention of these disciplines. Politically, at a time of increasing polarisation and war-talk, speaking of historical and methodological possibilities that arise from the common builds new pathways for critical intellectual endeavour. What is Manto's place in the intellectual history of contemporary philosophy in this region? What are the ways in which we may dip into this history to understand our present? And what are the other works and creative forms that might help us excavate and better understand other realities and histories on the Indian sub-continent? Ayesha Jalal's article on Manto was a feast.
Kalpana Kannabiran, Hyderabad
The article offered an insight into the religious fanaticism that marked Partition. Incidents of communal violence still take place but we have no firm law to curtail such mindless acts. Ayesha Jalal must be thanked for reminding us who we truly are.
Mahesh Jada, Nellore
Such articles enable youngsters like me to visualise the violence that accompanied Partition. The details in Manto's riveting stories clearly send a strong message to religious fanatics that knives, daggers and bullets cannot destroy religion.
Mohit Goyal, Sriganganagar
The article was moving. Partition, a blot on the subcontinent, continues to haunt us to this day. When people living together for generations succumbed to a divisive tendency and wrought havoc on one another in the name of religion, writers like Manto stood out. The catholicity of his outlook and his dispassionate views, rising above all parochial considerations, need to be lauded. His writings on the happenings during Partition with neutrality and impartiality should be read by all to understand things in the proper perspective.
R. Ramanathan, Coimbatore
Manto's unprejudiced effort to create a parallel history of Partition through fictional narratives is excellent because his writing was not affected or manipulated by any stream of social, political, religious or communal associations. His characters — perpetrators and victims — generally came from the lower strata of society. Toba Tek Singh, a mentally challenged farmer, Mangu Kochwan, sex workers, labourers, fanatics, etc., give a strong message that Manto was a writer of the common man, for the common man.
Bhavesh Kumar, Hyderabad
Manto's lines in Sahai “Don't say that a hundred thousand Hindus and a hundred thousand Muslims died. Say two hundred thousand people died. The tragedy, in truth, is that those who killed and those who were killed, both have nothing to show for it” are immortal. Such humanist is rare to come by these days.
S.K. Abdul Matin, Hyderabad
I wish the article hadn't reduced Manto to being a chronicler of events during Partition. Manto was as much a recorder of basic emotions like adolescent infatuation, lust, racial discrimination and gender bias in stories like Blouse, Odour, The Kingdom End and A Woman's Life, as he was of the cataclysmic after-effects of Partition in his masterpieces like Toba Tek Singh and Cold Flesh.
Mohd. Junaid Ansari, Meerut
Keywords: Saadat Hasan Manto