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Her Life, Her Struggle…

Well, she was not buried after her death, but cremated as per her last wish! This says quite a lot about Indian Urdu Novelist, Short Story Writer, and Filmmaker Ismat Chughtai (August 21, 1915 – October 24, 1991)! Her creations can well explain the rest…

For example, one can mention her novel, ‘Pesha’ (or ‘Profession‘). The author wrote the story as a statement of a school teacher who used to hate the sex-workers since her childhood. Even, she could recognise a prostitute by her scent! Incidentally, she rented a house and found a neighbour who smelled like a perfect prostitute! With her, the teacher – somewhat reluctantly – became friends. Although the hatred was still there in her mind, she developed different feelings about that lady. The teacher realised that there were more similarities, than discrepancies, between sex-workers and other women. Yet, the teacher failed to overcome the hatred. When she came to know that the lady was a housewife of an aristocratic family at the end of the story, the teacher was confused. Incidentally, Chughtai, herself, was a school teacher.

Selected Stories of Chughtai in Bengali

Ismat Chughtai was somewhat like that of her tales. She took her readers to the unfamiliar alleys of the interior Muslim households, and familiarised them with the cage made by Patriarchy. In her novels, the readers could find her life, her rebellion, as well as compromises made by her. For the author, storytelling was not that important. However, she made a definite impact on the minds of the readers. Ismat’s novels portray the humiliation and repression of women in our society. Recently, her ‘Selected Stories’ have been published in Bengali so that readers in Bangladesh and eastern Indian Province of West Bengal could understand Ismat’s social consciousness and political ideas..

Her translated works are important for the Bengalis, as it would surely help them recognise Ismat Chughtai…

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