Follow Us:
Thursday, June 30, 2022

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).

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 21, 2018 3:28:54 pm
ismat chughtai, ismat chughtai birth anniversary, ismat chughtai works, ismat chughtai lihaaf, indian express, indian express news Ismat Chughtai explored female desires and their struggles through her writing. (Source: File Photo)

One of the most celebrated Urdu authors, Ismat Chughtai was born on August 21, 1911 in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh. Chughtai, writing alongside the likes of Saadat Hasan Manto and Rajinder Singh Bedi, explored female sexuality, class conflict, and middle-class morality. One of her most enduring works remains the short story, Lihaaf (The Quilt) that appeared in Adab-i-Latif, a literary magazine based in Lahore. Told from the perspective of a young girl, the story explored the theme of homosexuality under the ‘lihaaf’. Published in 1942, Chughtai’s bold, iconoclastic writing sparked a controversy and the author found herself at the receiving end of scathing criticism. Later, charges of obscenity were also levelled against her.

ALSO READ | Ismat Chughtai 107th birth anniversary: Google doodle honours iconic writer

Her works include short stories like Kalyan, Ek Baat, Choten, among others. Hardly one to bow to conventions, Chughtai relentlessly wrote about women, their desires and the oppression they faced. Her novel Tedhi Lakeer (The Crooked Line) is one of the famous works in Urdu literature.

Her protagonist Shama is rebellious, headstrong and knows what she wants. Chughtai presents a word picture of the way Indian Muslims lived under the colonial rule, and explores their struggles and desires. Often considered as a quasi autobiographical work of the author, Tedhi Lakeer is also her magnum opus that provides a commentary on the state of the country just before Independence.

Best of Express Premium
Amitabh Kundu writes: The extent of povertyPremium
Uddhav Thackeray: The reluctant politician who in the end hung on to chai...Premium
Udaipur killers and Da’wat-e-Islami: the group, its ideology and its growthPremium
UPSC Key-June 29, 2022: Why to read ‘Dumping’ or ‘Gulabi Meenakari’ or ‘H...Premium

Chughtai passed away on Oct 24, 1991 and remains an integral figure in Urdu literature. Her works continue to initiate discussions and no discussion about feminist literature or women authors are complete without her.

Express Subscription Do not hit the wall. Get an Express subscription to access our award-winning journalism.

📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates

For all the latest Who Is News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard