Volume 5, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 2043-0701
  • E-ISSN: 2043-071X



This article explores the entanglements of memory and the crisis of location in the context of the India–Pakistan Partition in 1947, as depicted in Saadat Hasan Manto’s short fiction. It will investigate how Manto’s fiction is reflective of the trauma of geographical and existential dislocation with the birth of two nations following a programme of political and epistemic violence and remapping. The study will place special focus on the entanglement of memory and madness alongside the broader issues of nation-formation, alienation and loss. It will examine the trauma of 1947 Partition as a psychological as well as existential crisis that often manifested itself in madness, aphasia and amnesia. With a special attention to the formal qualities of Manto’s short fiction, the article will investigate the human condition of shock and loss by drawing on trauma studies, phenomenology and cognitive psychological studies in episodic memory, unreliable narration and cognition. It will thus examine how the short story is formally and uniquely equipped to reflect the cognitive and phenomenological processes underpinning memory, narrativity and consciousness, especially in their unsettled states of being in a politically violent space. The article specifically focuses on the short story ‘Toba Tek Singh’, which depicts a diplomatically agreed exchange of madmen across the borders of the two newly formed nations of India and Pakistan and the absurdity in the systematized political processes underpinning citizenship, nationality and identity. It will investigate how madness emerges as an existential as well as an epistemic inwardness that resists political classification with its subversive articulation of agency and emotionality. Manto’s short story and fiction in general may be read as a complex analysis of transnational trauma, memory and crisis of existential identity. This article offers such a study.


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