Vudojin Aug 09, Divya rated it it was amazing. Sometimes more so than at other times. Large amount of Urdu words have been used in this book which makes it difficult to grasp and slows down the reading pace. Rasheed Amjad 1 Dr.
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At once, my mind begins to wander in the veiled world of the past. Countless memories awake. To my thinking, a blanket may be less comfortable than a quilt, but its shadow is not as terrifying as when the black outline of a quilt hovers about the wall. This is the story of a time when I was a small girl, when I used to spend the whole day exchanging blows with my brothers and their friends. Sometimes I used to wonder why I was so bellicose.
At an age when my other sisters were busy gathering admirers, I was busy in pitched battles, shoes flying, with all the boys and girls both in and outside our family. This is why my mother, when she went to Agra for weeks at a time, would leave me with one of her dearest friends.
A well-deserved punishment for me. But he had a rather strange hobby. Some men like to keep pigeons; others love quail fights; still others prefer cock fights. But the Nawab was contemptuous of such undignified sports. The only things he kept in his house were students, whose room, board and tuition he bore himself. Boys, young, fair-complexioned, slender-waisted. After marrying Begam Jan, he left her alone with all the furnishings in the house.
The fragile, slim Begam began to waste away helplessly in the anguish of her isolation. Or perhaps it was when, peering through the chinks of the dining room screen, she saw the throng of tight-calved, supple-waisted boys in sheer, perfumed shirts eating up syrupy-rich puddings. Or was it when she lay exhausted from bows and wishing, from charms, incantations and nightly vigils, all of which proved to be in vain? How can a leech stick to a stone like Nawab Sahab? She began to give up hope and turned to books for relief.
Reading love novels and sentimental poetry threw her into deeper depressioins. She could not sleep at night and became a composite of yearning and frustration. But to hell with such pomp as clothes and jewels. Here, the Nawab could not spare time away from the shirt-tails of his boys to visit her, nor would he allow her to go out anywhere.
After her marriage, relatives would come to visit, stay for months at a time, then leave. But she remained locked up in her prison. These visits would anger her. As she tossed and turned, the quilt threw a shadow of myriad shapes on the wall, none of which could help keep her alive.
Then why live? But her life was a quest for living. Begam Jan was fated to live, so she did. That fall, Rubbu rescued her. When I saw Begam Jan for the first time, she must have been about forty or forty-two. How magnificent she looked, half-reclining on her couch.
Rubbu was sitting nearby pressing the small of her back. She looked like a queen about to receive courtiers. I liked looking at her and used to wish that I could just sit and look at her for hours. Her complexion was marble white, without a trace of red; her hair, black and always flawlessly combed and oiled, never a strand out of place. Her eyebrows were shaped into two drawn bows; her dark eyes had a taut aspect; the lids, heavy and full; her lashes, thick and tapering.
The most captivating feature of her face was her lips. They were usually tinted red, a light down over the upper one. Long hair tousled at the temples. Sometimes her face would suddenly take on a strange look, like that of an immature boy. When she used to stretch her legs to bathe the calves, I would silently watch their sheen. She was very tall and well-built; her hands were large and smooth; her waist, thin and muscular. A back-rub is one of the necessities of life; perhaps even the most necessary of them.
Rubbu did nothing else in the house. There were times I could not stand the sight of it any longer. Speaking for myself, I can only say that if anyone were to touch my body so much, it would wither up and rot away. After the bath, heaters were lit behind closed doors and another round of massaging. As a rule, only Rubbu was present.
The other servants were left grumbling, supplying toilet articles and towels at the door. The truth of the matter was that Begam Jan was afflicted with a rash. It itched so terribly that even after a thousand oils and balms were rubbed over it, the rash still remained.
Doctors maintained that there was nothing wrong; her body was spotless. Perhaps an infection under the skin, they concluded. Rubbu would comment, "These doctors are crazy. Dark as Begam Jan was fair; as red as theother was white.
A pock-marked fact, a stocky, solid build; a taug, small paunch; large, swollen lips which were always wet; a peculiar, nauseating smell constantly exuding from her body. How nimble her puffy little hands were.
Whenever I sat near Begam Jan, I could not help but notice the course these hands would take. Winter or summer, Begam Jan would wear loose blouses of white-as-foam muslin and brightly colored pajamas.
She liked winter and I enjoyed being at her house then. The other women servants were jealous of Rubbu. She ate with Begam Jan, sat and moved with her and -- so help me God -- slept with her. Rubbu and Begam Jan were, as I later discovered, the subject of many interesting conversations at nearly every gathering.
A mere mention of the two raised peals of laughter in any group. But she never saw anyone; her existence was confined to herself and her rash. I already mentioned that I was small at the time and quite enamored of Begam Jan. She loved me as well. By chance, Mother was to leave for Agra. Knowing full well that if left at home I would rough-house and fight with my brothers, she left me with Begam Jan for a week. I was delighted. So was Begam Jan.
The question of where I was to sleep arose. She had a small bed put in her room close to her own. The first night we talked and played chance until about ten or eleven; then I went over to my bed. During the night, I started from my sleep. Pitch darkness in the room. The elephant stopped moving. Say the Ayat-ul-kur Two people.
How could a thief get in here. Eventually, I fell asleep. By morning I had completely forgotten the terrifying spectacle of the night before. I am chronically superstitious: to be frightened at night; to rush out of bed screaming; to talk in my sleep -- none of these was strange to me.
So by morning, I had no recollection of anything. The quilt looked quite innocent. But the next night when I awoke from my sleep, I could hear Begam Jan and Rubbu quietly arguing in bed.
I could not hear what was finally resolved, for Rubbu was weeping and choking. Then the slurping sounds of a cat licking a plate. Though upset, I went to sleep. One day Rubbu had gone to see her son, a very irascible young man for whom Begam Jan had done many favors. Nothing pleased him. But God only knows why later he ran off with such an aversion that he never came back to visit his mother.
Begam Jan tried to stop her, but she went anyway. Begam Jan was upset throughout the day. Every single joint in her body, she said, was aching. No food and utter dejection all day. She looked at me intently.
Who was Ismat Chughtai?
The story was charged with obscenity and she was summoned to Lahore to defend it. The story brought me so much notoriety that I got sick of life. Lihaaf, indisputably, remains one of her most in famous works and the controversy it sparked hung like a perceptible shadow over everything that Chughtai wrote since. He was defending his story, Bu that faced similar charges. The story, narrated by a woman, is mostly recounted by her from the time when she was a child and was left with Begum Jan by her mother. Lihaaf: Feminist or not? Much like her other works, Chughtai in Lihaaf unabashedly wrote about female desires and wants and thereby even acknowledged them.
Decoding the ‘feminist’ in Ismat Chughtai’s most (in)famous short story, Lihaaf
Who was Ismat Chughtai? Ismat Chughtai was writing alongside Saadat Hasan Manto, Rajinder Singh Bedi, and explored female sexuality, class conflict, and middle-class morality through her writings. One of her most enduring works remains the short story, Lihaaf The Quilt. Chughtai, writing alongside the likes of Saadat Hasan Manto and Rajinder Singh Bedi, explored female sexuality, class conflict, and middle-class morality.
Lihaaf Summary by Ismat Chughtai
Biography[ edit ] Early life and career beginnings —41 [ edit ] Ismat Chughtai was born on 21 August in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh to Nusrat Khanam and Mirza Qaseem Baig Chughtai; she was ninth of ten children—six brothers, four sisters. Chughtai described the influence of her brothers as an important factor which influenced her personality in her formative years. She thought of her second-eldest brother, Mirza Azim Beg Chughtai, a novelist, as a mentor. When I started to write, people were very shocked because I wrote very frankly [
Conclusion Introduction Lihaf is an Urdu short story that made Ismat Chughtai popular for its controversies. Because it was branded as a feminist work feminism — not attacking men but the social structures. The memory pops up when she takes the quilt to cover herself in the winter. That is he was not interested in women but in young men. This is the feeling of every girl who is newly married yet her desires were never fulfilled by her husband that she wanted to gratify her wishes by other means. Begum was gaining the glow that she lost. That night the little girl was made to sleep in the arms of Begum, who started rubbing the body of the little girl which made her feel jittery nervous.