Beneath Divided Skies by Natasha Sharma

Beneath Divided Skies 

Author: Natasha Sharma 

Publisher: Vishwakarma Publications 

Language: English 

Themes: Partition, Loss 

What happened when the year 1947 divided the skies and split the earth? What happened to the unfortunate ones who fell through the cracks? Especially women who shouldered the burden of modesty, purity, and family honour apart from religious identity? The worst fate awaited them. They were branded obvious spoils of war, and their violation became just a means to an end. These unattached women were abducted and molested as an assertion of religious dominance. 

Were these women forgotten as collateral damage? Were they lost forever? Was there any respite for these women entrenched in the fractured lines? 

Sharma explores this and so much more in her true-account-based historical fiction, Beneath the Divided Skies. She scours the cracks inflicted on both sides of the borders by the Red Cliffe Line and hand-picks stories of the women who became easy prey in the power game called Partition. 

The narrative traces the quagmire these women trudged after being tainted by cross-border associations. 

Satya, the main protagonist, is part of an operation focused on finding women who have been abducted during Partition and returning them to their natal homes. The harsh realities of the abductees are unrolled as Satya searches, saves and returns these women to their homelands. In fact, with every rescue mission, Satya is trying to rescue her younger self from the clutches of her tormentors. Her accomplices in the ordeal are a multitude of cast whose lives have been shattered by the Radcliffe Line in one way or another. 

Sharma paints a soulful picture depicting the characters’ uphill climb against adverse situations as they reclaim their lives. I was pulled into the world inhabited by Satya, Santosh, Zainab, Preeto, and Prerna Masi. I cheered when the characters found some semblance of normalcy in their second innings. I cried when they keeled under another bout of suffering, this time meted by their own people. Sharma captures the heart-rendering journey well and even girdles it with layers of emotions, passion, unrequited love, loss and heartbreak. 

I applaud Sharma for the way she blends emotions with facts and truths to concoct an engrossing tale. The terms like three tonnes, innovative code language, and a Pakistani city named after Lord Rama’s son, Lord Luv, amused and enlightened me. 

Like an expert artisan weaving a storm of colours in a Phulkari dupatta, Sharma weaves emotionally charged stories in the narrative, each more heart-tugging than the other. I found Prerna’s backstory one of the most vivid and evocative. The romantic interlude between Satya and the liaison officer, Iqbal, is one of my favourite sections. 

The strength of vulnerability is brilliantly showcased. You witness the characters’ transformation and derive a sense of gratification when heroines emerge amongst victims and casualties. These survivors and fighters, fuelled by a sense of sisterhood, not only save themselves but also others. 

The vivid description brings the rural backdrop of 1947 alive before your eyes. Natasha compels the reader to breathe into that world by bringing in the sights and smells and a generous sprinkling of colloquial words and phrases. The songs and couplets wrap readers in their lilting essence. As a debut author, Sharma impresses with her writing prowess. 

Of course, the review cannot be complete without mentioning the beautiful cover. The colourful bagh, the traditional embroidered Phulkari shawl rippling across the cover, caught my eye and my heart. 

I cannot recommend this sensitive and moving book more! You don’t want to miss this soulful saga! 

Highly recommended! 



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