Anis Kidwai (1906-1982)

A site devoted to her writing and politics

In Freedom’s Shade (2011, Penguin India)

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.

“Begum Anis Kidwai’s memoir captures the social anguish of Partition and its aftermath far better than any novel or academic study. Previously known only to readers of Urdu and Hindi,  through the loving labours of Ayesha Kidwai it is now available to a wider world,. To a sensitive and compellingly readable translation, she has added a substantial biographical essay. This landmark work of historical recovery and scholarship should be read by every thinking Indian.”
Ramachandra Guha, author of India After Gandhi

“This memoir of Partition brings to life the unknown people and the hidden stories behind the making of India. It relates a story of anguish and courage that belongs to each one of us. And every page of this vivid translation brings us closer to an extraordinary woman, Anis Kidwai,brutally honest but humorous, challenging but hopeful.”
Githa Hariharan, author of A Thousand Faces of the Night and Fugitive Histories

“Anis Kidwai took up the challenge presented to the witness of history…to safeguard a narrative of Partition that goes beyond just dates, to touch upon things that go far deeper, to use it to face oneself…”
Urvashi Butalia, author of The Other Side of Silence

Click here to visit the Penguin India site for the book

Reviews and mentions

  1. Samina Mishra in the Indian ExpressMarch 26, 2011
  2. Adheesha Sarkar in The Telegraph, May 6, 2011
  3. Manisha Sethi,Biblio, July-August 2011
  4. Sohail Hashmi in The Book Review, August-September 2011
  5. A. Faizur Rahman in DNA, December 25, 2011
  6. BusinessWorld, November 8, 2014
  7. Nandini Ramchandran  in the Caravan, 1 February 2015
  8. Ajaz Ashraf in, August 10, 2016
  9. Hirsh Sawhney in TLS. August 11, 2017
  10. Navbharat Times, July 16, 2018.
  11. The Lallantop, July 8, 2020
  12. Hiba Akhtar, Nation, July 16, 2020.


  1. From Nizam to Nation: The Representation of Partition in Literary Narratives about Hyderabad, Deccan, N Akhtar, 2013
  2. The Imprint of Partition on the Representation of Rape in Samina Ali’s Madras on Rainy Days, N Akhtar, Postcolonial Text, 2014
  3. The City as a Space of Suspicion: Partition, Belonging and Citizenship in Delhi, 1940-1955, Rotem Geva Halperin, 2014
  4. Revisioning and ‘restorying’ Partition, TK Saint – Partition: The Long Shadow, 2015
  5. Partition Historiography, PR Dube – The Historian, 2015
  6. Remembering the ‘Endless’ Partition, TK Saint – War Stories: The War Memoir in History and Literature, 2016
  7. Partition Memoirs as Testimony, TK Saint – Revisiting India’s Partition: New Essays on Memory, 2016
  8. Out of Place in Delhi: Some Vignettes of Loss, S Khanna – The Palgrave Handbook of Literature and the City, 2016
  9. The Scramble for Houses: Violence, a factionalized state, and informal economy in post-partition Delhi, R Geva – Modern Asian Studies, 2017
  10. Deconstructing the 1947 Partition: The Effect of the Central Recovery Operation through a Gendered Lens in India and Pakistan, N Sachdev – 2017.
  11. Integrating the Memoir into the Archive: A Case Study of Anis Kidwai’s In Freedom’s Shade, J Fine – California State University, 2018
  12. Poetics of Pain: Writing the Memory of Partition, A Castaing – Partition and the Practice of Memory, 2018
  13. “Are we women not citizens?” Mridula Sarabhai’s Social workers and the recovery of Abducted Women’, in The Psychological Impact of the Partition of India, edited by Sanjeev Jain and Alok Sarin. Sage Publications, 2018.
  14. Narrating Trauma, Constructing Binaries, Affirming Agency: Partition in Muslim Women’s Autobiographical Writing, S Lambert-Hurley – Partition and the Practice of Memory, 2018
  15. Coping with the aftermath of Partition: Some personal and impersonal narratives, J Batra – The Partition of India: Beyond Improbable Lines, 2019
  16. Recovered and Restored? Abducted Women in 1947 Partition Narratives, S Aslam – Pakistan Journal of Women’s Studies, 2020
  17. The Politics of Gender and Community: Non-Governmental Relief in Late Colonial and Early Postcolonial India, M Framke – Gendering Global Humanitarianism in the Twentieth Century, 2020
  18. A Laboratory for a Composite India? Jamia Millia Islamia around the time of partition, L Gautier – Modern Asian Studies, 2020.
  19. Nation and Its ‘Other’ Women: Muslim Subjectivity and Gendered Agency in Delhi, Anjali Bhardwaj Datta, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 2021.
  20. Dans l’ombre de l’Histoire. Anis Kidwai et l’histoire féministe de la Partition de l’Inde, A. Castaing, Clio, 2021.
  21. Women’s ‘Retrieval’ from Pakistan: ‘India’s Daughters’ and the Emotional History of PartitionDeepra Dandekar, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 2021.

On Translating IFS

Ayesha Kidwai’s blogpost for the New India Foundation on translating In Freedom’s Shade can be found here

Novelist Githa Hariharan’s conversation with Ayesha Kidwai for Newclick can be found here

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