Withering Hearts

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Fatima and Amelia have been best friends for as long as they could remember. They've played together, slept together, attended the same school, wore the same dresses, and essentially behaved like they were stuck together at the hip. But, the day comes when Amelia's family has to leave the country temporarily to be with her grandmother, while her father is in the hospital to recover from his injuries in the Second World War. The best friendship continues even after Amelia moves away, through heart-felt letters. In the wake of the Partition of India, the two girls try to be their happy and upbeat selves, despite the news they receive getting worse everyday. While Fatima is disillusioned that her own country citizens were fighting each other for no reason, Amelia is disheartened that her friend has to go through something she shouldn't and feels guilty for leaving her alone through it. Will the two best friends be able to meet again? Surely the Partition chaos isn't going to end so soon? Or, will the two eventually discard their long-standing friendship of sixteen years and finally part ways? Read on to find out!

Avalon Greene
Age Rating:

Letter 1

20 / 08 / 1946

Dear Amelia,

I hope this letter finds you well, because I am not.

No one of us here are.

The news of the Partition has become a reality now and everyday we get bad news. It feels like… like maybe that’s the only solution—to separate Hindus from the Muslims.

Like you always said, we’re all humans and we must learn to stand united together. Believe you me, I completely agree with you – I always did. But I don’t think that’s ever going to work now… not when politics is at play in the highest level. Maybe we should all be Gandhis and try to reason with each other…

Maybe we should stop each other and talk things out – do a lecture on humanity and kindness.

Maybe –

But, none of that is going to work.

We just got news that Uncle Madhav has disappeared and was last seen on the outskirts of Calcutta. We haven’t heard from him since July, when his last letter came.

In a way, I’m glad your family left before all of this started. I have a feeling that it’s going to get worse here, so I’d advise your parents not to plan any trips to India for a long, long time. I don’t know when this situation will end… or whether it’ll end at all. We thought the Second World War would end the world, but it seems like this religious turmoil will instead. I mean, the World War ended and we’re still alive. I don’t think the angry mobs will be that considerate.

I just realised that I’ve been so negative in my letter so far… I actually cannot find a single decent event or news these days, forget about positive news. I feel so sad lately. I know you’ll tell me that’s not like me at all. And I will agree with you on that. You’re the fierce one, I’m the blissful one—it’s always been that way since we met. The situation seems to have reversed now, eh?

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say to you. I hope this letter reaches you without hassle.

Yours with lots of love,

Your best friend and partner-in-crime,

Fatima Afzal

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