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Martin Smocek
Martin Smocek


Lihaf Novel by Ismat Chughtai PDF 170

Lihaf (The Quilt) is a short story by Ismat Chughtai, a prominent Urdu writer of the 20th century. It was first published in 1942 in an Urdu literary journal called Adab-i-Latif. It is considered one of her most controversial and daring works, as it deals with the theme of female sexuality and homosexuality in a conservative Muslim society. The story was banned by the British colonial government and Chughtai was charged with obscenity and faced a trial in Lahore. However, she was acquitted after defending her artistic freedom and challenging the hypocrisy of the society.

The story is narrated by a young girl who is sent to live with her aunt Begum Jan and her husband Nawab Sahib, who is a wealthy and powerful man but neglects his wife's emotional and physical needs. Begum Jan suffers from loneliness and depression and finds solace in the company of her masseuse Rabbu, who is a lower-class woman. The narrator witnesses the intimate relationship between the two women under the quilt (lihaf) and is disturbed by the sounds and movements that she hears and feels. She also observes the changes in Begum Jan's appearance and behavior, as she becomes more confident and assertive. The story ends with the narrator running away from the house after being scared by Begum Jan's advances towards her.


The story is a bold critique of the patriarchal and feudal system that oppresses women and denies them their agency and identity. It also explores the themes of class, gender, sexuality, and power dynamics in a nuanced and realistic way. Chughtai uses symbolism, irony, humor, and imagery to convey her message and challenge the norms of the society. The quilt (lihaf) represents both the cover and the exposure of the hidden desires and realities of the women. The narrator's innocence and curiosity contrast with the adult world that she encounters. The story also questions the morality and authenticity of the religious and cultural values that are imposed on women.

Lihaf is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of Urdu literature and a landmark in feminist writing. It has been translated into several languages and adapted into films, plays, and radio dramas. It has also inspired many other writers and artists to explore similar themes and issues. You can read the original Urdu version of Lihaf online at [Rekhta] or download the PDF file at [Internet Archive]. You can also read the English translation by M. Asaduddin at [Internet Archive].


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