How does Ayah's experience in Cracking India serve as a metaphor for the country's own experiences?

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In Cracking India, Ayah is a Hindu living in a majority Muslim city within the territory that is post-Partition Pakistan. Her situation is the mirror image of what Muslims experienced in the larger territory of India. Her identity as a subjugated female trying to assert her rights is representative of the colonial Indian situation in which the oppressive rulers are metaphorically gendered male and the indigenous people are feminized.

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As a Hindu servant living in the home of an upper-class Parsi family, Ayah represents the class and religious divisions within the colonial Indian subcontinent. She is even called by her job title rather than her name, which the reader does not learn.

Ayah’s minority religious status in a majority Muslim city, within the nation of Pakistan that was created by Partition, parallels her overall lower social status. Although Lenny’s family is also a minority, their wealth distinguishes them from Ayah. The strong adult women in the household, Lenny’s mother and grandmother, can parlay their social status into a degree of protection against the generalized social violence.

As a young, vulnerable woman, Ayah is synonymous with her body, which represents the colonized territory that is subjugated first by the colonizers and then by the various rebellious forces. Ayah tries to navigate these conflicting spheres by cultivating appeal to the diverse actors. She uses her limited agency in an effort to assert her own will in choosing her partner. These efforts are dismissed in the patriarchal system, as shown through the actions of a controlling, possessive man. Thus, her experience of interpersonal violence at the hands of the Ice-Candy Man parallels the politically motivated violence that characterized the period of Partition.

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