In my humble opinion as well as in the opinion of several great litterateurs and critics, Jhootha-Sach is one of the greatest novels of the world and the greatest literary fiction book ever written in Hindi. The readers who can and who are interested in reading Hindi literature should not leave Jhootha Sach (false truth) which is not just for the people reading for entertainment but also for the people who are interested in knowing the things leading to and happened after the era-changing event of India’s partition in 1947.
This book is a real account of that historical period because the author, Yashpal himself was a member of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association led and operated by Chandra Shekhar Azad and had been a close associate of Bhagat Singh. After the martyrdom of these revolutionaries, Yashpal left the path of violence and devoted himself to literary work. He wrote many good books consisting of both novels and stories and was bestowed upon the Gyanpeeth Award too. However his best work, this epic novel giving a true account of the country’s partition and the subsequent decline of the national character in India, did not get any award. Yet, all the litterateurs and critics are unanimous in their opinion that Jhootha Sach is not only the best work of Yashpal but also the best realistic novel ever written in Hindi.
Jhootha Sach is an epic novel written in two parts – 1. Watan Aur Desh (the motherland and the nation), 2. Desh Ka Bhavishya (future of the nation). While the first one gives an account of the things taken place between 1943 to 15/08/1947 with the backdrop of Lahore, the second one accounts for the events starting from 15/08/1947 to January 1957 when the results of the second general elections of India came out. It gives an insight into the people’s thought patterns and psyche in the pre-partition as well as the post-partition days and very naturally describes how the so-called idealists and nationalists of dependent India became the men not able to look beyond their vested interests after the country’s political independence.
The story starts when one of the lead characters, Jaidev Puri, the elder son of a lower middle class family of a school teacher in Lahore, gets released from jail alongwith several other prisoners detained in the wake of the Quit India Movement. The very first scene which is of the death of his grandmother lends momentum to the story and then there is no looking back either for the author or for the reader. The other protagonist of the novel is his sister Tara who is a woman of principles. At the start of the story, she is a nineteen years old teenager who is proud of her brother who is a freedom-fighter. Things move politically and socially in India, leading to newer and newer developments for the brother-sister duo. Tara falls in love with her classmate Asad who is a Muslim whereas Jaidev Puri succumbs to the charm of his student, Kanak whom he gives tuition for English and who belongs to a well-off and reputed family of a known and respected political figure of Lahore. Tara gets married to a loafer, Somraj against her will and then only she realizes that her so-called patriot brother is, in fact, a hypocrite who maintains double standards and is scared to do anything worthwhile for anybody else or for the cause of any principle or ideals. The house of Tara’s in-laws is attacked by the Muslim rioters on her wedding night itself and while fleeing for her life, she has to undergo much trauma before she is rescued from a brothel and carried to Amritsar as a refugee. Puri gets stuck in a rioter attack on a train and circumstances take him to Jalandhar where he happens to meet his political senior in jail, Sood Ji. Thus the brother-sister duo loses its Watan (motherland) which is Lahore but now they are in their Desh (nation) which cannot be Lahore, for it is a part of Pakistan now. Here ends the first part.
The second part shows the transformation of the Indians from the all sacrificing patriots to the people interested in and taking care of their vested interests only. Here comes the change in the principles and ideals of the brother who was, in fact, a pseudo-nationalist and now moves like a fan with the direction of the wind. He proves himself a hypocrite in the eyes of not only his parents but also his sweetheart Kanak also who is now his wife. He becomes a corrupt publisher cum businessman working in association of Sood Ji who is now encashing his so-called sacrifices made for the country prior to its independence. The sister Tara, on the other hand proves that her principles and ideals were not just for the fair weather. She has to bear and foster them for her entire life. Firstly her parental family gets the news that she got burnt when the rioters set her in-laws’ house to flames but later on her escape and the fact that she is alive, is known to all including Puri. She faces all odds and comes across all kinds of people but with her determination, courage and perseverance, she is able to carve a niche for herself in the cruel and the selfish world. She becomes a civil servant by clearing the Indian Civil Services Exam. Having seen a lot of things in her life, she is not ready to marry just anybody. Then Dr. Praan Naath who is now the economic adviser to the Govt. of India and who was her tutor in her Lahore days, comes as a pleasant surprise in her life. Despite the age difference, they decide to get married but Puri manages his sister to be charged for bigamy which is a punishable crime for a govt. servant. In the ending scene, the marrying couple gets exonerated in the inquiry whereas Puri’s mentor Sood Ji loses his seat in the general elections in January 1957.
The story has several sub-plots and several characters. The historical events as well as the historical characters have been woven in the fictional plot with finesse by the legendary author who has used his own freedom-fighting experience skillfully in authoring the book. The book spells out the riots and the Hindu-Muslim psyche in detail, yet it is nowhere biased. Neither the bashing of any community, nor the undue support to any community’s prejudices towards the other. All the characters whether the lead ones or the supporting ones, are completely human. The novel shows that a human-being is a product of the circumstances prevailing at the particular moment or in the particular time. It describes crowd behaviour, the socio-political understanding of the educated Indian masses and the prejudices and stereotypes deep-seated in the psyche of the people of both the religious faiths with utmost sincerity and truthfulness.
If you are interested in getting a true and reliable account of that turbulent period and pre-partition and post-partition scenario of India, this fictional piece of work may be more useful than the history books as it has been written by a revolutionary himself, maintaining a totally objective and impartial outlook. Even then, this is not just dry history, it contains a totally human story which consists of all the RASAs of literature and fiction and is thoroughly engrossing for the reader.
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