Digital Editor Halima Ahad reflects on her dissertation journey so far as she researches the Partition of British India for her creative writing project

third year eng & creative writing, lover of books & writing, former culture editor and current digital editor <3

Dissertations are a significant part of university life for everyone. For those taking the English Literature and Creative Writing degree at the University of Birmingham, the dissertation takes the form of a Creative Writing Project: sixty percent is creative writing and forty percent is critical analysis of the chosen topic.

My chosen topic is the 1947 Partition of British India into India and Pakistan, a love story taking place within the timeline of specific events during partition. I am very passionate about this topic as it shines a light on the heritage and culture of my family, where they truly came from, and how they have gone through hardships to get to where they are today.

I have chosen this topic because it will teach me more about my culture and heritage as well as educating other students who may not know much about the Partition. I have also realised, through the research literature I have read for the project so far, that there are many hidden stories that took place during this time period.

I am very passionate about this topic as it shines a light on [my] heritage

My main characters are Husna Abbas, originating from the city of Lahore (Punjab, Pakistan), and Daniyal Afzal, originating from the city of Hyderabad (Telangana, India), as the significant others in this love story. The plot is in its early stages but the basic premise is that Husna and Daniyal have a chance encounter in the first third of the story; the second third charts their developing relationship; and the final third takes place in the midst of Partition as they try their best to navigate their relationship despite obstacles, such as caste differences.

Creative writing students at the University of Birmingham have an array of options to choose from for the creative writing side of their dissertation. From scriptwriting to poetry, the options are endless. I have chosen to do a hybrid mix of prose and poetry, in which the two main characters of my love story Husna and Daniyal meet and come together as well as communicate through love letters.

The early stages…have been very promising

As well as the creative output, we have to write a critical essay on the topic at hand. My essay will shine a light on the significant events of Partition, as well as aiming to write about the hidden stories which took place during that time period. I have begun reading significant literature within the University of Birmingham’s Main Library and it has grown my passion for the topic tenfold. It is absolutely fascinating to learn about both sides of Partition (India and Pakistan) without any bias. As well as this, I have learnt that many writers and poets during the time of partition were not necessarily inspired by the events of partition per se, but inspired by the events pre-Partition, including significant events which took place during their childhood.

Overall, the early stages of my Creative Writing Dissertation have been very promising and I cannot wait to have the completed draft in my hands, as well as educate others about the importance of the 1947 Partition of British India.

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