Exploring Chronotopal Politics in Hindu Indian Culture Incorporating Muslim Traits in Anita Desai's Clear Light of Day as a Nexus for Indo-Pak Dialogue.

Byline: Syrrina Ahsan Ali Haque and Rizwan Akhtar


India comprises eight major religious groups, out of these Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Parsees are the dominant religious identities. Hindus form a majority in terms of number of population in India. Since, the twelfth century A.D. Muslims and Hindus had been living in the subcontinent, adopting and adapting cultural, social, political and even religious ways in an endeavor to integrate, communicate and exist beyond differences inherent between the religious identities. With the intrusion from the British and their subsequent colonization, there was initially adoption of English ways too, however, a united struggle against the English created an ideological similarity between the two religious identities,.

The united front comprising Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims became an eminent threat to the British rule thus, the British devised ways and means to divide and continue to rule. In doing so, the British created factions and groups amongst the Indians at large. This in turn, created irredeemable fissures between the multi-religious populace, breeding resentment and animosity amongst friends and neighbors on the basis of religious disparity.

The novels on partition like BapsiSidhwa's, Anita Desai's and MeherNigarMasroor's novels proffer the introduction of this animosity, bred and nurtured by the colonizer in a bid to inculcate discord among the multi-religious groups, thereby, dismembering a unified movement against the rulers. While the novel, Clear Light of Day, depicts the differences inherent within religious ideologies, thisEnglish novel on partition, in particular, celebrates these differences as a nexus for coexistence also. Due to coexistence, there has been a cultural, social and psychological imbrication of ideas, ideals and values. This in turn, has created bridges and communication between distinct identities within the region. The research focuses on these points of confluence as means of dialogue among the dialectically separated individuals of the subcontinent, one example of shared symbol is the language Urdu, which Anita Desai's Hindu character, Raja, appropriates for dialogue.

The primary text is Anita Desai's Clear Light of Day, and it is explored as a medium of intratextual fluidity offering dialogic conference through the acknowledgment and projection of distinct voices of Hindus and Muslims in particular. In this novel, there is no monopolization of one voice, which induces an anticipation of dialogic utterance from each word, giving full scope for contribution of unequivocal ideas and values.

Interestingly, this novel presents contentious, dialectical ideologies and dissensionsyet the novel engageswith the crisis at hand using dialogue as a tool. Thus, the multiple voices in the novel rise above the clash of beliefs, and confer at points of correspondence inherent within the strain of sociological and ideological differences. Therefore, the novel offers an alternative reality to the dialectical events of partition by offering intersections, conferences and debates. There is a dialogic fluidity in fiction on partition when deconstructed and evaluated as medium of dialogue. However, the research deconstructed hermeneutically historical data on the possibilities of dialogue present in the archetypal shared symbols, as well as monologic presentation of ideologies. In doing so, the research elucidates that there are symbols, tools, means and mediums of confluence present in the text under peruse, which convey an eclectic intertextuality.

This is further explored in the light of Mikhail M. Bakhtin's theory of dialogism, in particular, chronotope. Time and space are threaded in a chain of dialogue, keeping it alive intratextually as well as intertextually.

Anita Desai, provides an alternative perspective to the historical and political monologic point of view on the event of partition. In her novel, Clear Light of Day, she questions the fixity of geographical borders in a fluid world, where time and space are fluid. This novel is perused and evaluatedin the light of her chronotopal representation of the events of partition. This research shows how thechronotopal movement establishes a dialogue between time past and present as well as a dialogue between time and space. Desai's character Bim is a major link between past and present as she remains in a space which connects the past and present of the entire family. Thus, despite differences the family interacts and communicates through Bim and the meeting ground is the House[sic].

Clear Light of Dayis a novel written by an Indian writer, Anita Desai of Hindu descent, however, she refrains from exhibiting Hindu religion or norms in her novel, while presenting Indian culture, incorporating Muslim traits. This aspect of distancing her novel from her own religion and its details makes Clear Light of Day a dialogic site. It has Muslim characters in the background. They are not given a mouthpiece at any time. The dialogue is between the Hindu characters who discuss Muslim characters. Hence, there is a distinct influence of the Muslim norms, values and culture but it is shown indirectly through the eyes of Hindu characters like Raja. The novel is divided into four time frames. Its parts depict different eras. Thus, the novel is a depiction of transience in time and space, which makes it a chronotopal novel carrying dialogic possibilities through connection between moving time and altered space.


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