The agitation was so great that Chughtai was summoned to court with her friend Saadat Hasan Manto over their controversial pieces: Lihaaf and Buu, respectively. This article aims to provide a new, contemporary perspective on this famous work that was revolutionary for its time. Ismat Chughtai remains one of the most iconic authors to have graced the annals of South Asian literature. Born to a family of civil servants, she spent a childhood in varied locations throughout northern India- from Badayun, to Jodhpur, from Agra to Aligarh. Despite her self-professed candidness about discussing taboo subjects such as sex with her siblings, she faced considerable difficulties from her family when attempting to complete her higher education. Lihaaf is set in pre-partition India and told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator who is the niece of the protagonist, Begum Jaan.

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Return to Book Page. Preview — Lihaaf by Ismat Chugtai. Lihaaf by Ismat Chugtai. Published in , at the Urdu literary journal Adab-i-Latif, it led to much controversy, uproar and an obscenity trial in the Lahore Court.

The narrator of this story, a precocious nine-year old child, is sent to visit an aunt. This aunt, ignored by a husband whose only interest seems to lie in entertai Lihaaf "The Quilt" is a Urdu short story written by Ismat Chughtai.

This aunt, ignored by a husband whose only interest seems to lie in entertaining slim-waisted young boys, suffers from a relentless bodily itch. An itch, her niece discovers, no doctor can cure and only her masseuse can relieve. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Lihaaf , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4.

Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Lihaaf. Mar 21, Khush rated it it was amazing. It was written in in unpartitioned India. When one reads this story, one wants to know about its writer. How can she be so brave and brash? One wonders many such things: who were her influences? How does she become the kind of writer she did? About her parenting and upbringing and so forth.

I guess even though she grew up in an upper-middle-class conservative Muslim household, she was, nevertheless, not completely immune to socio-cultural restrictions 'Lihaaf' is exemplary on many fronts. I guess even though she grew up in an upper-middle-class conservative Muslim household, she was, nevertheless, not completely immune to socio-cultural restrictions women were subjected to in that period.

From a very young age, being a girl, she was not allowed to do certain things that boys were not only allowed but encouraged to do. However, her family being educated and cultured were most probably not rigid in aligning themselves with the norms of the time. Ismat, rather than getting affected or confused by these rules, would do everything that she was told not to. These restrictions, imposed on her only due to her gender, were, in fact, egging her own, asking her to explore more, question more, be more of herself.

Sometimes snubs and slights, do the opposite. Ismat was a shining example. Before I comment on the story, I would like to write a bit more about her. Having read some of her work, it seems like she was familiar with the western literature, but at the same time, she was deeply absorbed in Urdu literature from a young age. I must say that the story 'Lihaaf' is an interesting outcome of east-west communion.

Having said that one can also argue that she was even ahead of most western women writers by writing about 'sexuality' especially if one considers her background and the extremely conservative and religious society, in general, of the times. What she did was indeed a brave act. A young girl goes to live with her relatives. A wealthy household with servants, and consequently, a lot of movement and noise one generally associates with households in bazaars.

The lady of the house is referred to as Begum Jan, her husband is always away on business trips and pays the least attention toward his wife or toward any woman.

While reading the story, I had often thought of her husband. What was he like? What sort of life did he live when he was away? What moved him? How was his inner world like? The story tells us about Begum who is always ill. Sometimes more so than at other times. Her bodily pain is such that no one can cure her, except one of her female servants. Sometimes in the middle of the day, they would close bedroom doors and spend hours inside— the female servant massaging and soothing Begum's mysterious and unaccounted for 'pains.

She would sleep in Begum's room, on a separate bed, though. At night, in dim light, she would see strange big shadows taking queer shapes on the wall. It was disconcerting to the young girl, it scared her to see shadows of two animals fighting and taking unusual shapes. Begum and her female servant had furtive sex on these nights. Ismat in no ways celebrates or opposes the sexual act, she just tells us this story through a child who sees Begum and her female servant doing 'funny things' under the quilt Lihaaf.

What was amazing about the story is that she could address such an 'unspeakable' issue— her audience was not Scandinavian, but deeply religious and conservative Indians. Of course, the story did not go well with the norm makers, she had to undergo a criminal trial for 'obscenity,' however, she asked the lawyer which words did he consider obscene in the story. He could not find any.

Read the story if you find it and remember that it is originally written in Urdu. Also, remember that the story is written in by an Indian 'Muslim' woman. View 2 comments. May 27, Saumya rated it really liked it. Read this in Hindi. What an experience! It made me laugh and it had moments that made me absolutely terrified. This story elicited so many reactions from me and my heart is beating a little faster than usual as I have just finished this story and I am still not over it.

Can't wait to explore more of her work. Nov 20, Tanya Sharma rated it liked it. Mar 09, Kru rated it it was amazing Shelves: reads , chgindianir , stars My first of the author, dumbfounded by such brazenness of the 40s that too for an Indian audience!

And the word play, like, it is all in the reader's mind. Narrated by a nine year old this is nothing short of a travel along the hairpin bends.

May 22, Aishwarya Rathor rated it really liked it Shelves: readinginramadanmonth. Lihaaf is a short story from a young girl's point of view. As a punishment from her mother, the protagonist was made to live with Begum Jaan. Begum Jaan suffered an unsuccesful marriage. The husband, Nawab Saheb was a respectable man and soon it was revealed that he was interested in people of his own gender.

Begum Jaan felt lonely and her Saviour was Rabbo, a servent. The protagonist was traumatised by their relationship.

The movement of quilt in the night scared her. Also, Begum Jaan's behaviour Lihaaf is a short story from a young girl's point of view. Also, Begum Jaan's behaviour towards the protagonist in absence of Rabbo was questionable. The story talks about Lesbian relationship without the usage of obscene words and also about strangled and disappointing marriage. I am amazed because such a short story without usage of indecent words said so much.


Decoding the ‘feminist’ in Ismat Chughtai’s most (in)famous short story, Lihaaf

Published in the Urdu literary journal Adab-i-Latif , it led to much controversy, uproar and an obscenity trial, where Ismat had to defend herself in the Lahore Court as well for this work. She was asked to apologize which she did not and also won the case, after her lawyer pointed out that the story makes no suggestion to a sexual act, and prosecution witnesses could not point out any obscene words, and the story is suggestive and told from perspective of a small girl. In the coming decades it was widely anthologised, and became one of her most known works, besides Angarey which remained banned for several decades. It became a landmark for its early depiction of sex, still a taboo in modern Indian literature , let alone Urdu literature. The story is told from the point of view of a small girl who is the niece of the protagonist, Begum Jan. Begum Jan has had a very depressing life after marriage.


Ismat chughtai's lihaaf

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. The story was charged with obscenity and she was summoned to Lahore to defend it. He was defending his story, Bu that faced similar charges.


Lihaaf By Ismat Chughtai : A Perspective

Is it possible for someone to post an English transliteration of this novel? Another site like this i found for biggest urdu adab website. Nice post and also informative. Book reading is very good hobby,if you read the right book at right time. Yes you are right in this post what you want to describe i got it. Awesome information. I have never found such kind of information any other site.


Stand clear! The woman is arriving. Up to , the legal definition of persons did not include women. As did Asma Jahangir. And before her Ismat Chughtai.

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