– बलराज मेनरा व शरद दत्त
The writings of Ismat Chughtai and Saadat Hasan Manto, perhaps two of the finest writers of the short story in any language, have begun to attract a much larger audience thanks to the many translations in English and other languages and transliterations in Hindi that have become available in recent years. All the translations are not as good as they should be but Asaduddin’s work is top-of-the-shelf stuff.
The title chosen by Ismat for her autobiography—Kaghazi Hai Pairahan, literally robes of paper—is an allusion to petitioners appearing in court dressed in paper robes with their complaints inscribed upon them. The phrase is iconic, drawn as it is from the first ghazal from Ghalib’s anthology. Asaduddin’s translation of the title, A Life in Words: Memoirs, is a little extended perhaps, but translating Ghalib, with all the hidden, multi-layered nuances, is next to impossible. Everything else about the book is worth treasuring. You can’t possibly commend a translation more than this; if there are faults, they are faults carried over from the original, like the mixing up of Sheikh Chilli and Sheikh Saleem Chishti in ‘Conflict’ or perhaps a little printer’s devil that has turned Majaz’s sister Safia Siraj, who was to marry Jan Nisar Akhtar, into Sufia Siraj. Continue reading Life and its suburbs
You may have read it by now but in case you haven’t, the best article on Manto’s birth centennial came from Mohammad Hanif:
Your problem, Manto sir was that you weren’t satisfied with mentioning one haram thing per story. We do realise that in the world of short stories sometimes you have to describe bad things, things that our religion and our culture don’t approve of but couldn’t you have exercised a bit of moderation? As if having a prostitute as your main character wasn’t enough, you had to make her drink alcohol, and as if her drinking wasn’t bad enough you had to make her go to sleep with a flea-ridden dog. And I am not even mentioning the uncalled for description of her blouse where she stuffs her haram-earned money. Why did you have to do all that when you could have written about banana peels? [Read]
“Here lies buried Saadat Hasan Manto in whose bosom are enshrined all the secrets and art of short story writing. Buried under mounds of earth, even now he is contemplating whether he is a greater short story writer or God.”
May 2012 will mark the hundredth birth anniversary of the man who wrote that epitaph for himself, Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955). One cannot help but compare Manto’s centennial to Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s last year, preparations for which had begun much in advance. There seems to be an odd silence about Manto. Continue reading A Hundred Years of Manto
This is MUHAMMAD UMAR MEMON‘s translation of an article by SA’ADAT HASAN MANTO. The translation first appeared in The Annual of Urdu Studies.
The Hindi-Urdu dispute has been raging for some time now. Maulvi Abdul Haq Sahib, Dr Tara Singh and Mahatma Gandhi know what there is to know about this dispute. For me, though, it has so far remained incomprehensible. Try as hard as I might, I just haven’t been able to understand. Why are Hindus wasting their time supporting Hindi, and why are Muslims so beside themselves over their preservation of Urdu? A language is not made, it makes itself. And no amount of human effort can ever kill a language. When I tried to write something about this current hot issue, I ended up with the following long conversation:
Munshi Narain Parshad: Iqbal Sahib, are you going to drink this soda water?
Mirza Muhammad Iqbal: Yes, I am.
Munshi: Why dont you drink lemon?
Iqbal: No particular reason. I just like soda water. At our house, everyone likes to drink it.
Munshi: In other words, you hate lemon. Continue reading Hindi and Urdu: Sa’adat Hasan Manto
This is M. ASADUDDIN‘s translation of a letter written by SA’ADAT HASAN MANTO to Jawaharlal Nehru in 1954. This translation first appeared in The Annual of Urdu Studies (volume 11, 1996).
Pundit-ji, assalamu alaikum!
This is the first letter I’m sending you. By the grace of God you’re considered very handsome by the Americans. Well, my features are not exactly bad either. If I go to America, perhaps I’ll be accorded the same status. But you’re the Prime Minister of India, and I’m the famed story writer of Pakistan. Quite a deep gulf separating us! However, what is common between us is that we are both Kashmiris. You’re a Nehru, I’m a Manto. To be a Kashmiri is to be handsome, and to be handsome … I don’t know. Continue reading Pundit Manto’s First Letter to Pundit Nehru