Phoenix Fled by Attia Hosain

In Phoenix Fled by Attia Hosain we have the theme of paralysis, struggle, fear, connection, colonialism and partition. Taken from her Phoenix Fled and Other Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and the reader realises from the beginning of the story that Hosain may be exploring the theme of paralysis. Old Granny’s age is unknown to others however she is as old as the village she lives in. This is significant as it suggests that old Granny has not moved from where she has lived for her entire life. If anything she remains paralysed by the present and her past. A past that Old Granny can still remember. Colonialism and British rule in India. There is also a sense that Old Granny is struggling not only physically but mentally too. She is damaged by the rule of the British and the subsequent partitioning of India. She longs for some sense of peace of mind but it is not forthcoming.

In fact Old Granny’s only sense of calm comes from her grandchildren and her great grandchildren. They love her just as much as she loves them. If anything Old Granny feels connected to her younger family members. They bring joy and happy memories into Old Granny’s life. Though this happiness is short-lived as Old Granny knows how difficult times are for her and those who live in the village. With partitioning she is under constant threat of death. A death that is narrated by religion. A person’s religion deciding their faith and Old Granny as a Muslim is on the wrong side of partitioning. This may be significant as none of Old Granny’s family see the difficulties that they are all facing since India gained its independence from Britain (in 1947).

There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The red clothed soldiers represent the British army and the mistrust that Old Granny has for them. The fact that the clothes worn by the British are red is also important as Hosain is using the colour red to highlight danger. The fact that the present danger that Old Granny faces from partitioning is not colourized is significant too. It suggests that those who are on either side of the war are the same people. In reality there is or was no need for either India or Pakistan to fight after partitioning. If anything partitioning remains a dark subject in India and Pakistan because of the senseless loss of people’s lives.

The end of the story is interesting as Old Granny without realizing it is about to be killed by Indian troops. A woman who has survived everybody around her is to die a meaningless death for the sake of land. A land that remains divided today. With both India and Pakistan having a strained relationship at times. It is also significant that Old Granny calls out for the troops not to damage the doll’s house. The doll’s house to Old Granny represents happier times in her youth and it is also a connection point between the younger members of Old Granny’s family and Old Granny herself. But sadly the doll’s house is destroyed in the same manner that Old Granny’s life will end. She will die a death that she does not deserve again for the sake of a piece of disputed land.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "Phoenix Fled by Attia Hosain." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 1 Jan. 2022. Web.

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