Appearing for the first time in English translation, In Freedom’s Shade (originally written in the Urdu as Azadi ki Chhaon Mein in 1949) is Anis Kidwai’s moving personal memoir of the first two years of independent India. It is an activist’s record that reveals both the architecture of the violence during Partition as well as the efforts of ordinary citizens to bring the cycle of reprisal and retribution to a close. Beginning from the murder of her husband in October 1947, Anis Kidwai narrates, with a rare frankness, sympathy, and depth of insight, the stories of the thousands who were driven away from their homelands in Delhi and its neighboring areas by eviction or abduction or the threat of forced religious conversion. Of historical importance for its account of the activities of the Shanti Dal, the recovery of abducted women and the history of Delhi, In Freedom’s Shade also has an equal contemporary relevance. In part a delineation of the roots of the afflictions that beset Indian society and in part prophetic about the plagues that were to come, Anis Kidwai’s testament is an enduring reminder that memory without truth is futile; only when it serves the objective of reconciliation, does it achieve meaning and significance.
Kidwai’s translation has been very well received and was in the final shortlist for the Crossword Book Award. Her work as a translator was also referred to in the citation of the Infosys Prize that she received in 2013.