|Stavorinus, John Splinter||Voyages to the East-Indies, 1768-1778 (3 vols)
(Trans. from the Dutch by Samuel H. Wilcocke)||G.G. & J. Robinson, London||1798|
|Steel, Flora Annie||India Through the Ages||George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., London||1908|
|Steel, Flora Annie||Tales of the Punjab (Alameda County Library)||Macmillan & Co., London||1894|
|Steel, Flora Annie||A Raj Collection: On The Face Of The Waters, etc.||Publisher: Oxford University Press|
|Stephens, H. Morse||Albuquerque (Rulers of India Series)||Oxford Univ. Press||1892|
|Stevenage, Patrick Hugh||A Railway Family in India:
Five Generations of the Stevenages ||BACSA, Putney, London||2001|
|Stilz, Gerhard||Die Anglo-Indian Short Story: Geschichte Einer Kolonialliteratur||Niemeyer, Tubingen||1981|
|Stocqueler, J.H.||Handbook of India, A Guide to the Stranger and the Traveller, and a Companion to the Resident||W.H. Allen, London||1844|
|Stokes, W.||The Anglo-Indian Codes||Clarendon Press, Oxford||1887|
|Stoll, Dennis||The Dove Found No Rest
(Oregon State University Library)||Country Life Press, NY||1946|
|Stonequist, Everett V.||The Marginal Man: A Study in Personality & Culture Conflict. With an Introduction by R.E. Park||Charles Scribner's Sons, New York||1937|
|Stracey, Eric||Growing Up in Anglo-India||EastWest Books (Madras) Pvt. Ltd.||2000|
|Stracey, Eric||Odd Man In: My Years in the Indian Police||Vikas Pub., New Delhi||1981|
Stracey, Sir John||Reade Elephant Hunter India (Rev. Ed.)||Kegan Paul, Trench Trubner & Co., London||1894|
|Stuart, V.A.||The Cannons of Lucknow||Pinnacle Books, New York||1974|
|Stuart, V.A.||The Heroic Garrison||Pinnacle Books, New York||1975|
|Stuart, V.A.||The Sepoy Mutiny||Pinnacle Books, New York||1973|
|Stuart, V.A. (Pseud. of Violet Victoria Mann)||Massacre at Cawnpore||Pinnacle Books, New York||1973|
|Suleri, Sara||The Rhetoric Of English India||University of Chicago Press|
|Sundaresan, Indu||Splendour of Silence |
Reviewed by Moniza Inam
WRITTEN by Indu Sundaresan, who was born and brought up in India and currently lives in Seattle, the novel explores the Raj period when the Second World War was at its peak. When one starts reading the book, there is a feeling of familiarity and nostalgia. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Urdu literature has ample books on the subject. Writers ranging from Krishan Chandar to Quratulain Hyder, Ismat Chaughtai and scores of others have written extensively on it. The lifestyle of the Indian Civil Service (ICS) officers, their servants and exclusive clubs, concerns about their children’s education and aspirations to become pacca sahibs, the rat race to make their sons pass the civil service examination, as well as the prejudices of the English rulers, the political turmoil and the nationalist movement have been touched upon in detail by the writers.
Another familiar theme is the phenomenon of Anglo Indians, the race which emerged due to the interaction of the colonists and the subject people. The author recounts the ways this mixed race group was disowned by both races and had to fight a war of survival in the caste-ridden conservative Indian society during the 19th century. The princely states and their fascinating rulers — each with his own idiosyncrasies and extravagant way of living — are also discussed in detail in the book.
Despite choosing a topic that has been done to death, it is to Sundaresan’s credit that with the help of an intricate and grasping plot, she is able to keep the interest of the readers alive till the very end of the novel. There are no loopholes or ambiguities in the plot, but with the help of various flashbacks she works hard to keep the reader enthralled.
The story begins in Seattle where an American girl named Olivia receives a large leather trunk from India as a present on her 21st birthday. It contains some saris, photographs, a diary and a letter. As Olivia starts reading the letter, she discovers her roots, forgotten names, and her family history along with the story about her deceased parents. She learns about their unconditional love for each other, and how her recently belated father loved her long dead mother till the end of his own life.
The family’s history commences in the princely state of Rudrakot, where an ICS officer named Raman lives happily with his three children till an American army officer, named Captain Sam Hawthrone, comes into their lives. Raman’s daughter Mila is swept off her feet by the charming foreigner — she seems to have forgotten that she is engaged to the raja of the state. Mila gives her heart, body and soul, he, however, has other priorities such as his missing brother who is also a US army officer. Sam is looking for his brother who, it is believed, disappeared within Rudrakot.
Parallel to the story of Mila and Sam, the author has provided a narrative on the happenings on the Burmese front where Sam was posted before coming to India. This aspect of the novel is perhaps the most interesting as Sundaresan takes readers to the jungles of Japanese-occupied Burma where two American soldiers and a female missionary have been fighting their own war of survival.
The author also depicts the incongruities of a colonial society in a very effective manner, especially the plight of the Eurasian people. It is one of the factors that force Mila to reconsider her decision to marry Sam. She realises that their children will not be accepted either as Indians or American, but instead will remain outcasts. However, the most touching and heartrending character is that of Jai who graciously accepts the fact that his wife is in love with someone else and is even carrying the other man’s child. After Mila’s death, he takes the infant to her biological father. The act reveals his magnanimity and unqualified love for Mila.
Splendour of Silence is an exceptionally well-written and well-researched work of fiction which, apart from a typical love triangle, captivatingly depicts the socio-political conditions of the Raj. The only exasperating aspect of the novel is that sometimes the writer tends to go overboard when explaining trivial elements of Indian life. The author has obviously done this for the sake of western readers, but at times the descriptions tend to become boring for desi readers.
|Penguin Books, India|
|Sunderland, Dr.||India in Bondage:
Her Right to Freedom and a Place Among the Great Nations||Lewis Copeland, New York||1929|
|Suyin, Han||The Mountain is Young||Jonathan Cape, London||1958|
|Swift, Eric||The Brave and the Prejudiced Together They Won an Empire||Springfield Publ. Ltd., Essex, England||1982|
|Syal, Meera||Life Isn´t All Ha Ha Hee Hee||The New York Press||1999|