Edited and Tranlated by Rita Kothari
We are grateful to Isa Daudpota to have alerted us to an invaluable collection of Sindhi Partition narratives.
As Isa says, most people in Pakistan are unaware of the plight of Sindhi Hindus who migrated to India at the time of Partition. The two stories are a useful corrective. Copies are available from www.penguinindia.com or amazon.com. Indeed, All public libraries in Sindh should have a copy.
Unbordered Memories. Sindhi Stories of Partition. Ed and Trans Rita Kothari. Contents and Intro
Two stories from Unbordered Memories. ed Rita Kothari. Penguin
A new collection of translated short stories reminds us how Urdu literature needs to connect with a global audience, says Raza Rumi
As I hold the recently published “The Oxford Book of short stories” in my hands, I cannot help bemoan the fact that Urdu literature has been almost invisible from the arena of global literature. Admittedly, translation is difficult; the tediousness of translation daunts many a brave heart. Having said that, there have been a handful of remarkable translators such as Khalid Hassan, Alamgir Hashmi, CM Naim, Aamer Hussain, Umer Memon and Rakhshanda Jalil, to name a few. But a wide corpus of Urdu literature lies forlorn and hidden from global readership, which alas is dominated by English language readers. For this very reason, Amina Azfar has done a remarkable job of compiling a collection of Urdu short stories. Her earlier translations have been competent and quite often lyrical. For instance, Akhtar Hussain Raipuri’s Gard-e-Rahh (the dust of the road) and Sajjad Zaheer’s Roshnai ( the Light ) are noteworthy for their tone.
The book has a nice little foreword by Aamer Hussain, who is correct in stating that Azfar’s collection provides a fine introduction to the genre of the Urdu short story. The stories selected encompass a range of various experiments undertaken by the great Urdu writers. The stark realism of Munshi Premchand is counterpoised by Khaleda Hussain’s two short stories that are allegorical and somewhat postmodern in their sensibility. Iftikhar Arif, the renowned poet-bureaucrat, in his formal introduction quotes Dr Jamil Jalibi, terming the selected short stories “in the category of the very best”. Continue reading
Reviewed by S.G. Jilanee
Saadat Hasan Manto was very popular in his time as a progressive writer. But he wrote in Urdu. Now, Rakhshanda Jalil introduces him to English readers with a collection of 16 of his short stories and three sketches in Naked Voices. Continue reading
By Raza Rumi
Story telling has been a primordial urge, never quite expressed in its fullest measure, but always lingering and floating like life. There was a sub-continent before the colonial interaction that brought in its wake an aesthetic hardened by the industrial revolution and its uniformity of life and space. This was a world rich with myriad identities, of whispers and tales all interlaced in a peculiarly complex kaleidoscope. Since the 19th century that particular aspect of folk story telling and transfer of generational accounts gave way to what is now known as education and knowledge – instruments and reflections of power and a linear world view set elsewhere but adapted awkwardly to the local context.
This is why Simorgh Women’s Resource and Publication Centre in Lahore, under the leadership of Neelum Hussain, have undertaken the challenging task of reclaiming the rich heritage that lies in our folklore especially that of the Punjab. “The Romance of Raja Rasalu and Other Tales” is a stunning compilation of the romance of Punjab’s legendary hero, Raja Rasalu and, while it draws heavily on the
colonial storytellers, the book twists the narrative in a manner that brings us closer to the origins of our cultural sensibilities. The tales are sheer magic. The romance, the intrigue, the bravery and the integrated nature of human existence where it finds communication even with birds and trees comes to a full life throughout the narrative.
It is one thing to produce an admirable compendium but it is another matter to ensure that the purpose and spirit of the tales are adequately reflected in the illustrations. This particular touch of originality is provided by the eminent artist Laila Rehman whose breathtakingly attractive illustrations add a new layer of meaning and sensibility to the folk stories. It is, therefore, as has been rightly stated in the introduction, a book for pleasure: a pleasure that moves beyond the immediate and the momentary and merges into the real or imagined pleasure of living. Laila’s paintings and sketches are evocative enough to generate a parallel story within the larger narrative. It is as if the reader is traversing into several worlds. One minute Continue reading
While There is Light
Tariq Mehmood’s novel , While There is Light, impresses Mike Phillips
Courtesy: The Guardian-UK
While There is Light
by Tariq Mehmood
220pp, Comma, £7.95
The novel opens with a sentence from a letter written by Saleem, a young Muslim on remand in Leeds. “Mother, I am now in jail, in this bitch of a country called England. I may never see you again.” Continue reading
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She is a Woman Impure
She is a woman impure
Trapped in the cycle of blood
In the chain of years and months
Burning in the fire of lust
Seeking her pleasures
Mistress of the devil
Following his ways
Towards that elusive goal
Which has no route
That meeting of light and fire
Which is so hard to find.
Boiling blood inside her veins
Has torn her breasts,
The thorns on her way
Have severed her womb,
On her body’s shame
There is no shade of sanctity,
But, O gods who rule this earth,
You shall never see
This woman impure
With a prayer on her lips
As a supplicant at your door.
Poem by Fahmida Riaz
Translated by Mahmood Jamal
Fehmida’s portrait courtesy K.B. Abro