Train to Pakistan


Khushwant Singh

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Mem-sahib Term Analysis

A term used by Indians to refer to a white, upper-class European woman, usually the wife of a colonial official.

Mem-sahib Quotes in Train to Pakistan

The Train to Pakistan quotes below are all either spoken by Mem-sahib or refer to Mem-sahib. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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

“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:
2. Kalyug Quotes

It was not possible to keep Indians off the subject of sex for long. It obsessed their minds. It came out in their art, literature, and religion … One read it in the advertisements of quacks who proclaimed to possess remedies for barrenness and medicines to induce wombs to yield male children. One heard about it all the time … Conversation on any topic—politics, philosophy, sport—soon came down to sex, which everyone enjoyed with a lot of giggling and hand-slapping.

Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

“The mem-sahibs are like houris from paradise—white and soft, like silk. All we have here are black buffaloes.”

Related Characters: Juggut Singh / Jugga (speaker), Iqbal Singh, Lala Ram Lal, Malli
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mem-sahib Term Timeline in Train to Pakistan

The timeline below shows where the term Mem-sahib appears in Train to Pakistan. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
2. Kalyug
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Gender and Masculinity Theme Icon
...not want to know more, but Jugga asks him if he has slept with many mem-sahibs. Iqbal is irritated by the question as well as with what he perceives as an... (full context)