Ismat Chughtai's Short Stories
Though her life wasn't as drastically messed up as that of her friend and contemporary Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chughtai was definitely a born rebel. She lived her life the way she wanted, and wrote the truth in her many stories, novels, and nonfiction essays.
Chughtai's most famous story is 'Lihaf' (The Quilt), which deals with a lesbian encounter within an all-woman setting (Zenana) in a traditional Muslim household. It's a funny and scandalous story (read it here), but actually, my favorite short story by Chughtai is called "Sacred Duty." I came across it in a recent collection called The Quilt and Other Stories. It's beautifully translated by Tahira Naqvi, who has been Chughtai's committed translator and one of her great champions.
The story is not online anywhere, so perhaps I should briefly summarize it and quote a little. Samina, who comes from a respectable Muslim family in Delhi, is engaged to be married to a respectable Muslim boy. However, the day before her wedding she runs off with her boyfriend with Tashar Trivedi, a Hindu whose family lives in Allahabad. Samina accompanies Tashar to Allahabad, where converts to Hinduism and is married to Tashar in a Hindu ceremony. When her parents get Samina's note explaining her disappearance, her mother's first reaction (the story is told from her parents' perspective) is "Let's go to Allahabad and shoot them both!" Lovely.
After some months tempers have cooled, and Samina's father goes on a mission to Allahabad to reconcile, and to invite Samina and her husband to their house in Delhi. He is so gracious and understanding that the Trivedis agree. But in Delhi the young couple find that the Siddiqui family have quietly arranged a second, Muslim marriage ceremony, which requires Tashar to convert to Islam and Samina to reconvert. He's ready to do it, though Samina isn't, and a great deal of poisonously comical bickering ensues. Finally, from... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2012, 04). Lihaf. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 04, 2012, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Lihaf-988158.html
"Lihaf" StudyMode.com. 04 2012. 04 2012 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Lihaf-988158.html>.
"Lihaf." StudyMode.com. 04, 2012. Accessed 04, 2012. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Lihaf-988158.html.