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An Autobiography


Sutinder Singh Noor

WHOM TO TELL MY TALE
By K.S. Duggal
National Book Trust, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 222, Rs. 65.00

VOLUME XXXI NUMBER 8 August 2007

Whom to Tell My Tale is K.S. Duggal’sautobiography. When in 1985, Duggal published this autobio- graphy in Punjabi (Kis Peh Kholon Ganthdi) it was appreciated in a comparative way, because Amrita Pritam’s, Sant Singh Sekhon’s and Ajit Kaur’s autobiographies had already created a discussion about the genric developments. Amrita and Ajit Kaur were sensational in style and Sant Singh Sekhon was ideological and interpretative about the paradigm of history. Comparatively Duggal was more informative and observant about the time and society. Whom To Tell My Tale should be assessed comparatively in the growth of this genre in Indian Literature.   The author, a well known fiction writer with 13 novels, 26 collections of short stories has written this book in a fictional style with a consciousness of history. He starts the narration from his birth, childhood and cultural ethos of Pothohar, but this autobiography becomes more significant when it narrates the tragedy of partition. Duggal, again and again has portrayed this tragedy in his fiction and every time he narrates more tragic details. Autobiography gives him a chance to dwell on his own fate and experience during the days of partition. He is also analytical about that historical carnage:   Today when I look back, I ask myself—‘Where was the communal divide which led to carnage during Partition riots?’ It was evidently a creation of the misled politicians of the day in their quest for power whether it were Hindus or Muslims. The Britishers were always there to fan their differences rather than bringing the warring groups together to promote accord and amity. (p. 98)   The writer is not narrating and analysing only the carnage, he is also describing the time as a political event, because the political struggle for freedom was at the decisive turn. People were facing the hardships of that struggle. Duggal’s language creates combinative ideological signifiers and metonymic expression:   The times wre tumultuous. The freedom struggle was at its decisive stage. Every other day some tragic happening would take place—a shooting here, a killing there. Such incidents were called Sakas in the common parlance. Whenever a Saka took place, fire would not be lit in the hearth in our house. Everyone went without food. The children were fed only roasted grams like the jailed patriots who were said to be fed on roasted grams. We slept on the floor rather than in beds in ...


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