Ismat chughtai:The famous Urdu female writer of India.

Features and interveiws Offbeat

By Manya Srivastavaa

Ismat Apa the Lady who fascinates everyone  every single time whenever one  read her books  . She was an  outspoken courageous lady .Ismat Chughtai has mastered the art of short stories. Her stories are so moving, profound, and heart wrenching. She is absolutely brutal in the content and the manner in which she delivers her story.

Her language is so simple so that everyone can relate easily & her choice of topics made her one of  the most lovable urdu writer. To be a female, Muslim Indian writer is to be burdened by a triptych of prejudices; colonialism, patriarchy and zealotry. Yet, rather than be weighed down by this load, Chughtai’s prose soars majestically above the cultural cliches and convolutions which she is surrounded by; her raw, sensitive and at times humorous studies of female sexuality, desire and love, her fearless exploration of homosexuality and a myriad of other taboo subjects place her amongst the greatest Indian writers.

Ms Chughtai was born in a small town in 1911 to a middle-class, Muslim family. Chughtai was the first Indian Muslim woman to obtain both a bachelor of arts and a bachelor’s in education degree, according to a publisher’s bio. Ismat Chughtai  is considered a trend setter in Urdu short stories and she touched upon new topics .Ismat Chughtai died in Bombay on October 24, 1991 and was cremated in Chandanwadi crematorium according to her wish.
Her language was so unapologetic and riveting that it continues to unsettle readers until this day.
Ismat was a liberal women and she believed in every religion .She wrote about women, gender issues , caste issues.
Chughtai raised some untouched topic, Her women characters cut across barriers of class and caste.She wrote about homosexuality  , ladies condition in muslim community . The writer routinely nicknamed the ‘female Manto’ (owing to her rebellious and daring persona) and ‘Lady Changez Khan’ (she traced her descent from the family of Tamerlane). Chughtai’s short stories reflected the cultural legacy of the region in which she lived. This was well demonstrated in her story “Sacred Duty”, where she dealt with social pressures in India, alluding to specific national, religious and cultural traditions.
She gave new diction to urdu.
Expansive and prolific, one cannot make a definitive list of what constitutes her best writing. However, however  some of her very powerful short stories and the diverse themes they examine includes:

Lihaaf (The Quilt)

Lihaaf her most widely read and criticized Story ,Chughtai fought a legal battle, defending her writing from charges of obscenity and eventually won. 

Tedhi lakeer(The Crooked Line)

“Tehri Lakeer” one of Chughtai’s most autobiographical work (translated wondrously by Tahira Naqvi as “The Crooked Line) .“The Crooked Line” is about Indian women living in purdah. “Tedhi Lakeer” seems Chughtai’s autobiography.
Til (The Mole)
In many ways ‘The Mole’ is about the difficult of art in depicting one of the very things.

‘The Mole’ is a story depicted with the many colourations of love as seen through the eyes of the painter Choudhury, who is unable to depict the beauty of his model.

Some Other Works

 Dil ki Duniya          (1966)

 Jangli Kabootar      (1970)

 Ajeeb Aadmi          (1970)

 Ek Qatra Khoon    (1975)

Tanhai ka Zehr     (1977)

 Badan ki Khushboo (1979)

 Amarbel             (1979)

 Thori si Paagal    (1979)

Aadhi Aurat Aadha Khwab (1986)

 Kaghazi Hai Pairahan         (1988)

 Teen Anahri                      (1988)

If one  ever wanted to know what kind of woman Ismat Chughtai was, then ‘A Life in Words’ is your time-machine. The memoir, a fast paced, disjointed account of Ismat’s life is written in a conversational manner, like she herself is telling you her story, jumping from one unrelated event to another, then circling back to the original story. The book, simply put, is a roller-coaster ride with vivid insights into a time in Indian history where religion existed, but people still lived cordially with each other. The way she describes her early years in Jodhpur, Agra, Aligarh and Surat, each of her little stories could be an engaging short film. ⁣

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