Lihaaf is a 1942 Urdu short story written by Ismat Chughtai. 6. To Kill a Mockingbird covers several themes that are often uncomfortable to encounter and explore, such as racism and loss of innocence. Lihaaf, of course, is the first story which springs to mind when we think of Ismat Chughtai. Ismat Chughtai wrote about bodies in Urdu. 4 mins read. The fast-paced and colloquial nature of her language, even in translation, portrays an urgency and intimacy that she wishes to establish with the reader – which is what makes her work relevant even to the woman of today. Ismat Chughtai, a renowed Urdu women writer who’s celebrated for her honest and progressive feminist writings. Chughtai wrote in an era when female authors writing about women and for the cause of women was seen as something that transgressed the boundaries of morality and respectability. Ismat laid one of the strongest pillars for women writers, feminism and living a life on her own terms. A film and cultural studies enthusiast, Tatsita is fascinated by the Marxist, Post-Structuralist, Post-Modernist and Psychoanalytic school of thoughts to understand the idea of power in complex human relationships as well as oppressive social structures around gender and caste. She wrote, “I was put down as a purveyor of sex. Ismat Chughtai was a pillar of the modern Urdu short story and a woman who dared to write about the one thing that was most taboo in her time feminine sexuality. She relentlessly fought against the dominant caste system and worked towards the upliftment of the marginalized. Tatsita is a postgraduate in Public Policy and Governance from Azim Premji University. She was considered the grand dame of Urdu fiction, Along with Rashid Jahan, Wajeda Tabassum and Qurratulain Hyder, Ismat’s work stands for … Ismat Chughtai’s Feminism in Today’s Context. Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf breaks away from the traditional role of women in a patriarchal world, and yet most feminists miss the child sexual abuse. About Ismat Chughtai. And only progressive literature can produce self-confidence. Ismat Chughtai was a pillar of the modern Urdu short story and a woman who dared to write about the one thing that was most taboo in her time feminine sexuality. Introduction. In her life and writings, she laid bare the hypocrisy of the male champions of women’s rights and the myths they had constructed about women. When questioned about ‘obscenity’ in her stories in an interview, she said. She is known for her progressive, feminist, bold writing style. Ismat Chughtai explains, “And now…By God’s grace, everything has changed. Ismat Chughtai, one of the pioneers of Urdu fiction, was most courageous and controversial woman writer of the twentieth century. 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. The list of feminist stories by Ismat is a long one, ‘ Lihaaf ’ , being the most controversial of them all, and hence very well known. Now, if some people find them obscene, let them go to hell. When being told that she isn’t, her integrity did not allow her to bow before the uncompromising and rigid nature of the movement, which clearly was trivialising women’s issues. 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Exploring the lives of women depicted in the 20th century. Ismat Chughtai: Remembering A Feminist Literary Icon. Savitribai Phule, first female teacher of the first women’s school in India is a pioneer figure. Ms Chughtai was born in a small town in 1911 to a middle-class, Muslim family. I drink tea lying in bed, then I get up to take breakfast.”(1) This fierce love for agency and independence is not even something that adult women are supposed to possess even today, but for Ismat Chughtai, it has been central to her idea of self even as a child. On this Republic Day, let us take a look at the fifteen powerful women who helped draft the Indian Constitution. She does not claim or try to be objective, but instead invites the readers into the subjectivity of her feminine artistic experience. Chughtai, who passed away in her bed quietly on the evening of the 24th of October in Bombay, 28 years ago last week, is universally regarded as one of the four pillars of Urdu fiction in our time, apart from her contemporaries Saadat Hasan … This was Ismat’s way of giving a vent to the voice of repressed female sexuality that was submitted to the men’s oppressed ways, and certainly was a brave exploration of the alternative ways through which women can redeem them in a sexually repressive patriarchal world. Talking about Chughtai, who she fondly calls Ismat Apa, is one of Naqvi's favourite subjects. Topics of desire and longing were automatically interpreted as more obscene coming from a woman, and Ismat Chughtai dared to address this duality as well. Because it was branded as a feminist work (feminism – not attacking men but the social structures.It also involves the freedom to express ‘sexuality’ which is not right according to society) and was banned.. A Terrifying Memory. The list of feminist stories by Ismat is a long one, ‘ Lihaaf ’ , being the most controversial of them all, and hence very well known. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! In one brilliant example of her frustration with men writing and preaching about women, she exclaims, “Another person commands, ‘When a child is breast-fed for the first time, the mother goes red with happiness, and starts trembling.’ Women must have anticipated that the commanding personage is a man, and whatever he has written is based on hearsay. Many of the writing of this brilliant writer was banned at that time because their fiercely reformist and feminist content offended conservatives. However, she soon began to notice the patriarchal oppression of feminine expression and sensibilities within the group, and when it was declared at a conference that the writers who wrote about farmers and workers were the real writers, she questioned whether she was a writer or not because she never wrote about these issues. Ismat Chughtai, one of the pioneers of Urdu fiction, was most courageous and controversial woman writer of the twentieth century. She left a benchmark for feminist literature, and is truly an icon of brevity whose works stand testimony to the fact that they delve into those issues that disturb and agitate us, and force us not to turn a blind eye towards them. The Begum’s Speech: Ismat Chughtai was not just a provocative writer who wrote about women While political activists and agents that were at the forefront of the Indian freedom struggle focus on India’s identity as separate from Britain in their work, she focuses on the way freedom is defined within India. In a society where marriage is the ultimate meaning of women’s existence, stories like ‘Chauthi Ka Jora’ give a peek into a culture that promotes mismatched unions and treat women as objects. Rasheed wrote a number of plays and short stories and Ismat remained in her influence throughout her writing career. And so did Ismat Chughtai. Her fight for freedom of speech and expression in those days is laudable and many will agree, it is a huge inspiration for women today. What Good Can Facial Surveillance Bring In A Fascist State? Historically, much like the literature of most other Indian languages, the world of Urdu short stories, poetry, and essays has been dominated by the male gaze. When ‘Lihaf‘ came out in the year 1942, a topic which was never even acknowledged an existence in a polite society, created a lot of controversy in her life. The arguments and debates that become highlighted in her work are never therefore disjointed from her lived experience. How Ismat Chughtai and Manto gave India its first feminist literature 'Thanda Gosht' and 'Lihaaf' intersect in the bleak concealment of social transgressions behind a metaphorical purdah. Feminism . Her views on social issues, such as same-sex relationships, are now recognized as being decades ahead of her time. She goes on to write, “I am saying this because men coin these so-called proverbs for no reason…It is better not to claim to understand women more than the women themselves.“(2). I wrote about a women’s loneliness who had all the worldly comforts but who was deprived of her husband’s company. In this conversation with Daniya, she talks about her love for Urdu fiction, the women in Chughtai's stories, her journey into the world of translation and a lot more. For example, the short story 'The Quilt' (Lihaaf in Urdu) by Ismat Chughtai. Ismat Chughtai—A Tribute Not many of us can say the same for ourselves. Ismat Chughtai (Urdu: عصمت چغتائی) (August 1915 – 24 October 1991) was an eminent Urdu writer, known for her indomitable spirit and a fierce feminist ideology. The story was charged with obscenity and she was summoned to Lahore to defend it. He has undoubtedly never fed a child himself and does not know how painful it is when a child is breast-fed for the first time. As poetic as it may sound, it created a massive uproar at the time as languages in India are also associated with religion. By. The Urdu short story was the greatest contribution of this movement, and Chughtai was the master of the short story, alongside Saadat Hasan Manto, Rashid Jahan, Rajinder Singh Bedi and others. As translated to English by M.Asaduddin for the Penguin Random House compilation ‘Lifting the Veil’, published in 2018. In this line Ismat Chughtai is trying to explain the patriarchal attitude of society. Often perceived as a feminist writer, Chughtai uncovers the female sexuality (Chughtai 2009: I). Ismat Chughtai is known for her fierce feminism that she explored by putting out on paper Urdu stories of blunt and bold themes such as gender inequality and lesbianism. She has also translated Chughtai's last and lesser known novel, Ek Qatra-e-Khoon. On this Republic Day, let us take a look at the fifteen powerful women who helped draft the Indian Constitution. – Yahaan se Wahaan Tak. “ It was pitch dark and Begum Jaan’s quilt was shaking vigorously as though an elephant was struggling inside. Beginning in the 1930s, she wrote extensively on themes including female sexuality and femininity, middle-class gentility, and class conflict, often from a Marxist perspective. Like her contemporaries, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Krishan Chander and Saadat Hasan Manto, Chughtai was greatly influenced by Western writers of the 19th century, which is the reason the themes of sexuality are so prevalent in her writings, and imply her conscious selection of the same. Ismat Chughtai didn’t do much writing after the sixties. Rasheed Jahan was immensely interested in women’s writings for women from a women’s perspective and was against the idea of those husbands who treated their wives either as reproductive machines or as glorified servants. Ismat Chughtai has been known as an advocate of feminism during a time when there was no mention of the word ‘feminism’. Often perceived as a feminist writer, Chughtai uncovers the female sexuality (Chughtai 2009: I). Ismat Chughtai’s observational writing and essays, therefore, act as a window to see the social and political bearings of being an unapologetic and independent woman during her time. Body hair removal emerged as a survival tactic many millennia ago. “Begum Jaan…,” I could barely form the words out of fear. The young woman unafraid to speak the truth. But Ismat Chughtai’s point is not about what used to happen when she was a child, it is about who would get to decide it. 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