Train to Pakistan

by

Khushwant Singh

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Meet Singh Character Analysis

An old Sikh priest who privately admits that he joined the clergy only to avoid regular work. Meet Singh is a friend of both Iqbal Singh and Imam Baksh—a relationship that is described as having “an undercurrent of friendly rivalry.” Meet was born a peasant and lives off of earnings from a small parcel of land that he leases out, as well as the offerings from the temple. He has no wife or children. For a priest, he is not particularly learned in the Sikh scriptures nor is he a gifted orator. Described as “short, fat, and hairy,” he is also unkempt and seldom wears a shirt, instead donning only a pair of dirty shorts. He opposes the plot to kill the train of refugees heading to Pakistan but finds that his role as an “old bhai” makes his protests futile.

Meet Singh Quotes in Train to Pakistan

The Train to Pakistan quotes below are all either spoken by Meet Singh or refer to Meet Singh. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of Train to Pakistan published in 1956.
1. Dacoity Quotes

Iqbal stood up and looked all around. From the railway station to the roof of the rest house … the whole place was littered with men, women, children, cattle, and dogs …. Where in India could one find a place that did not teem with life? Iqbal thought of his first reaction on reaching Bombay. Milling crowds—millions of them—on the quayside, in the streets, on railway platforms; even at night the pavements were full of people. The whole country was like an overcrowded room. What could you expect when the population went up by six every minute—five millions every year! It made all planning in industry or agriculture a mockery. Why not spend the same amount of effort in checking the increase in population? But how could you, in the land of the Kama sutra, the home of phallic worship and the son cult?

Related Characters: Iqbal Singh, Meet Singh
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

“They are a race of four-twenties,” he said vehemently. [Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code defines the offense of cheating.] “Do not believe what they say.” Once again he felt his venom had missed its mark. But the Big Lord’s daughter sitting cross-legged with her eyes shut for the benefit of press photographers, and the Big Lord himself—the handsome, Hindustani-speaking cousin of the King, who loved India like the missionaries—was always too much for Iqbal …. “They would not have spread their domain all over the world if they had been honest. That, however, is irrelevant,” added Iqbal. It was time to change the subject. “What is important is: what is going to happen now?”

Related Characters: Iqbal Singh (speaker), Meet Singh, Imam Baksh, Banta Singh
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:
4. Karma Quotes

“Well, if the village is not dead, then it should be. It should be drowned in a palmful of water. It consists of eunuchs,” said the visitor fiercely with a flourish of his hand … The leader had an aggressive bossy manner. He was a boy in his teens with a little beard which was glued to his chin with brilliantine. He was small in size, slight of build and altogether somewhat effeminate ….] He looked as if his mother had dressed him up as an American cowboy … It was obvious to the villagers that he was an educated city-dweller. Such men always assumed a superior air when talking to peasants. They had no regard for age or status.

Related Characters: Boy Leader (speaker), Meet Singh, Banta Singh
Page Number: 147-148
Explanation and Analysis:

“For each Hindu or Sikh they kill, kill two Mussulmans. For each woman they abduct or rape, abduct two. For each home they loot, loot two. For each trainload of dead they send over, send two across. For each road convoy that is attacked, attack two. That will stop the killing on the other side. It will teach them that we also play this game of killing and looting” … “I was going to say,” said Meet Singh haltingly, “I was going to say,” he repeated, “what have the Muslims here done to us for us to kill them in revenge for what Muslims in Pakistan are doing? Only people who have committed crimes should be punished.” The lad glared angrily at Meet Singh. “What had the Sikhs and Hindus in Pakistan done that they were butchered? Weren’t they innocent?”

Related Characters: Meet Singh (speaker), Boy Leader (speaker), Banta Singh
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

Iqbal realized that it was the company of Jugga and the constable, who were known Sikhs, that really saved him from being stopped and questioned. He wished he could get out of this place where he had to prove his Sikhism to save his life … He cursed his luck for having a name like Iqbal, and then for being a… Where on earth except in India would a man’s life depend on whether or not his foreskin had been removed? It would be laughable if it were not tragic … If only he could get out to Delhi and to civilization! He would report on his arrest; the party paper would frontpage the news with his photograph: ANGLO-AMERICAN CAPitalIST CONSPIRACY TO CREATE CHAOS (lovely alliteration). COMRADE IQBAL IMPRISONED ON BORDER. It would all go to make him a hero.

Related Symbols: Bangles
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:

He felt a little feverish, the sort of feverishness one feels when one is about to make a declaration of love. It was time for a declaration of something. Only he was not sure what it should be. Should he go out, face the mob and tell them in clear ringing tones that this was wrong—immoral? Walk right up to them with his eyes fixing the armed crowd in a frame—without flinching, without turning, like the heroes on the screen who became bigger and bigger as they walk right into the camera. Then with dignity fall under a volley of blows, or preferably a volley of rifleshots. A cold thrill went down Iqbal’s spine. There would be no one to see this supreme act of sacrifice. They would kill him just as they would kill the others … They would strip him and see. Circumcised, therefore Muslim.

Related Characters: Iqbal Singh, Meet Singh
Related Symbols: Bangles
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

The leader raised his rifle to his shoulder and fired. He hit his mark and one of the man’s legs came off the rope and dangled in the air. The other was still twined round the rope. He slashed away in frantic haste. The engine was only a few yards off … Somebody fired another shot. The man’s body slid off the rope, but he clung to it with his hands and chin. He pulled himself up, caught the rope under his left armpit, and again started hacking with his right hand. The rope had been cut in shreds. Only a thin tough strand remained. He went at it with the knife, and then with his teeth. The engine was almost on him. There was a volley of shots. The man shivered and collapsed. The rope snapped in the center as he fell. The train went over him, and went on to Pakistan.

Related Symbols: Railway Bridge
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:
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Meet Singh Character Timeline in Train to Pakistan

The timeline below shows where the character Meet Singh appears in Train to Pakistan. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. Dacoity
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...and toward the village, feeling that the police are watching him. In town, he sees Meet Singh bathing beside a well. The men greet each other, then Iqbal asks if he can... (full context)
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Meet Singh shows Iqbal to the spare room, then goes back to the well where he was... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Meet Singh reenters and asks Iqbal what his name is. Iqbal tells him, then asks the priest... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
...helped him understand how backward India is and that something should be done about it. Meet Singh asks how much he is paid and if his salary covers the expenses of his... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Meet Singh tells Iqbal Singh that missionaries are usually the only other visitors. The priest does not... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Iqbal eats his sardines and Meet Singh watches as Iqbal pulls a white pill from his pocket and drops it in the... (full context)
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Iqbal is surprised to hear about a village murder. He asks Meet Singh many questions. Meet Singh is amused that a man who says that he has come... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
...buzzing around. He puts a handkerchief over his face. When he manages to doze off, Meet Singh enters excitedly. The priest has learned that the police have sent for Juggut to be... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Iqbal finds this code of morals puzzling. He finds it strange that Meet Singh , a priest, is not bothered that Juggut committed a murder, but that he killed... (full context)
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
...back to the gurdwara. He goes to his room and lies down on his charpoy. Meet Singh appears and says that Banta Singh, the lambardar, will visit that evening and is bringing... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
...is annoyed that the visitors cannot see decolonization as a step forward. Banta Singh and Meet Singh talk favorably about English officers. Iqbal, in a moment of impatience, asks they why they... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Meet Singh recalls a photo of white British people, including the “Big Lord” and his daughter, at... (full context)
2. Kalyug
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...the gurdwara, people are melancholic. Imam Baksh says that they are living in bad times. Meet Singh agrees and says that they are living in Kalyug—the dark age. They all talk about... (full context)
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
...with Lala Ram Lal dead, the only person in the village who can read is Meet Singh . Jugga says that he knows a little verse in English and Hindustani. Iqbal teaches... (full context)
3. Mano Majra
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...Muslim League?” The lambardar is surprised by the question, for, when they met, he remembers Meet Singh and Imam Baksh calling the young man “Iqbal Singh.” (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Before the head constable leaves with his subordinate constables, Meet Singh goes to him and says that Iqbal Singh is a Sikh. The head constable ignores... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
At night, a group of Sikhs gathers around the house of the lambardar. Meet Singh is with them. They believe that God is punishing them for their sins and they... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
The youth then says that something must be done about the Muslims. Meet Singh speaks angrily on the subject, asking the villagers if any Muslim has personally ousted them... (full context)
4. Karma
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Gender and Masculinity Theme Icon
...will stop the killing on the other side. People listen, stunned by the boy’s words. Meet Singh is the only one who speaks and asks what the Muslims in their village have... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Gender and Masculinity Theme Icon
The boy leader loses patience with Meet Singh . The priest loses the argument and the boy turns his attention back to the... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
...his life depends on having foreskin. It is both laughable and tragic. He resents needing Meet Singh , an unclean man who defecates in the fields, for protection. He yearns to go... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
The tonga arrives at the gurdwara. When Meet Singh greets Iqbal and opens the door to his room, the priest talks about the trainloads... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Iqbal asks if there has been any killing in the village. Meet Singh says there has not, but that there will be. He mentions the plan to attack... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Iqbal ignores Meet Singh ’s questions about the mattress and figures that this is why the police released Malli.... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Meet Singh changes the subject by asking how Iqbal was treated at the police station. Iqbal quickly... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
At the gurdwara, Meet Singh is awake. He is sweeping the floor and tidying up when someone bangs at the... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
...He quietly says, “Sat Sri Akal, Babuji” and tries to see if Iqbal is awake. Meet Singh asks him not to disturb Iqbal for he is not feeling well. Jugga sees the... (full context)