Magazine article Inroads

In the Wake of the British Raj

Magazine article Inroads

In the Wake of the British Raj

Article excerpt

The bread-and-circuses of the Vancouver Olympics depressed me, so I arranged a trip to Dhaka. As the world flew into Vancouver last February, I flew out. Over the last two decades I have taught and undertaken occasional research in Bangladesh. One of the benefits of this choice of foreign refuge has been to learn about a culture different from mine and get to know many people who, otherwise, would never have crossed my path - nor I theirs. Among them is Manzoor Ahmed. Manzoor, who teaches at the BRAC University Institute of Education Development, probably knows more about Bangladesh schools than anyone else in his country. His daughter is a playwright and potential novelist. Last February he casually asked, would I care to read a manuscript that his daughter was writing?

Which explains why two lengthy excerpts have found their way to the pages of this issue of Inroads. Her novel-in-progress complements articles elsewhere in this issue about cultural diversity and identity. It is parochial to portray solely Canadian aspects of the issue. India presents a far more complex tale of hope and tragedy among people of contending identities. Ahmed's novel invites readers to place themselves in Calcutta in the 1940s, as Indians grappled with the implications of finally, aftertwo centuries, putting an end to the British Raj. As she writes, this is a love story, a story of an affair between an enterprising Indian businesswoman and an American officer during World War II. It is also a story about the tragedy of communal hatreds that erupted between Hindu and Muslim in Calcutta in 1946. …

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