The partition of the Indian Sub-continent is one of the worse tragedies. It worsened the relations among Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. A number of writers have tried to draw the picture of the partition of 1947 in both the lands.
E.g. Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan depicts the Indian perspective of partition while Masoor’s Shadow of the Time throws light on the Pakistani perspective of partition.
But most of the works are free from the religious and the communal bias and are written in agony of compassion rather than of the anger. However, Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man differs from other works as it presents partition in the Parsi perspective.
Parsi – A Minority
The Parsi community has always remained a minority and felt a threat of its extinction under the rule of dominant communities.
In Ice Candy Man, which is presented through the eyes of Lenny, an eight-year-old Parsi child, we find how the community struggles for its existence at the time of partition and later when the fire of communal violence cools down, this community becomes the ‘masiha´ of the victims.
At the beginning of the novel, the plot of which is set in Lahore, we find that the Parsi community recognises the upcoming dangers of the partition.
Col. Barucha’s Suggestions
Col. Barucha, who is a dominant figure of the Parsi community arranges meetings and asks the people to remain neutral as they are a minority.
He advises them to obey the rule of who-so-ever rules Lahore. Many people talk about the consequences of rules of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.
As the story of the novel develops, the fraternity that once existed among different communities withers away and the dread violence of communalism takes its place.
Murders and Rapes
In Eastern Punjab, Muslim men and children are killed mercilessly and women raped by the Sikh Akalis. The train to Pakistan comes to Lahore having the dead bodies of Muslims. A sack filled with the breasts of Muslim women is also there.
All these incidents enrage the Muslims of Lahore and they, in turn, butcher the Sikhs and the Hindus in their area.
Ice Candy Man who was once an admirer of Shanta Devi, being enraged by violence, helps the lustful crowd in dragging her out of the house, who takes her to kotha and gang-rape her. Later she is forced to become a prostitute.
Masiha of Victims
Throughout the course of partition, we find that Parsi Community keeps itself neutral towards the violence and later becomes the ‘masiha’ of the victims.
Lenny’s mother goes in the nights to help the Hindus and the Sikhs to escape from the mass-killing. Godmother helps Shanta to go back to Amritsar to her family.
Hence, where the Muslims, the Sikhs and the Hindus are struggling for the power, the Parsis are struggling for existence and are neutral towards all of the communities and in addition to that, they help them in their needs.