The four novellas in this volume span the inimitable Ismat Chughtai’s literary career, from 1939 to 1971. Each one develops the author’s central preoccupation with the lives of women as they experience love, tragedy, societal prescriptions and proscriptions, in collision with their own rebellious spirit. A keen sense of their individual subversive potential and a willingness to take the consequences of obduracy in the face of overwhelming odds, ensures that they are neither hapless nor victims.
Through them Chughtai delivers a scathing critique on the hypocrisy and cant of social mores, and the festering maladies that infect society. Chughtai’s characteristic mastery of form and technique, her vivid imagery and richness of language make for marvellous story-telling, and create some of the most memorable female protagonists in Indian literature.