The trauma of an arbitrary Partition left Sindhis with no state of their own in independent India. It is a matter of no small pride that all Sindhis (not just Amils) have robustly settled wherever they could, supporting lesser endowed members of the community, without any special pleading. This book contains narratives of remarkable Sindhi families, stressing the adaptability of Amils, displays some exquisite old and new photographs and contains a potted history of the community before and since Partition.
Agarwal’s account of early Amil history suggests that this ‘educated’ part of the larger community adapted and has been co-opted to collaborate with a succession of rulers. They studied Farsi to become revenue officers for earlier rulers and English to work with the British. In 1843, when Sir Charles Napier supposedly sent a cryptic despatch to his masters in the East India Company—‘Peccavi’ (Latin for ‘I have sinned’), punning on the name of the state, he was announcing a victory of no mean proportion. His later, more audacious comment: “If this was a piece of rascality, it was a noble piece of rascality”, suggests he had gone beyond his brief of facilitating a comfortable trade zone.