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Introduction Toba Tek Singh? Toba Tek Singh...oh yes, the name rings a loud bell in the minds of the people of the Subcontinent. The reader vividly recalls the “demanded” Sikh lying between the barbed wires marking the borders of India and Pakistan, in the so-called “no man’s land,” refusing to accept the division of the country. The image captivates one’s mind. This image, which has been seen repeatedly in the many dramatized and film versions of the s...
Introduction

Toba Tek Singh? Toba Tek Singh...oh yes, the name rings a loud bell in the minds of the people of the Subcontinent. The reader vividly recalls the “demanded” Sikh lying between the barbed wires marking the borders of India and Pakistan, in the so-called “no man’s land,” refusing to accept the division of the country. The image captivates one’s mind. This image, which has been seen repeatedly in the many dramatized and film versions of the story, would do credit to a famous painter like Van Gogh or Degas. It is the image of a nowhere man, an existential exile, a marginal man whose fate is decided by the politics of attrition pawn in the overwhelming events of history. The name “Toba Tek Singh” creates all this resonance...it is only some moments later that one thinks of Manto, the writer who created the character. It is the classic case of a fictional character overshadowing its creator.

Though sometimes given to exaggerated claims about himself and his writings, Manto makes largely valid claims in the above statement. The areas of human experience and the luminal spaces that he focused on relentlessly shocked people out of their complacency into a new awareness of the reality around them. This is particularly true in the context of his writings about the partition, Manto stands apart. He alone had the capacity to take a hard, impassioned look at the slaughter and senseless violence let loose on the eve of India’s independence, without ideological blinkers, pious posturing or the slightest trace of communal prejudice. And that is why, after half a century of independence and partition, when history is being rewritten from new perspectives and magisterial nationalist narratives are being deconstructed, the creative writer most frequently alluded to is Mano. Moreover, Manto had the courage to probe the innermost recesses of the human mind and expose some of the dark forces at critical moment’s cause’s great damage both to the individual and society.

There are two assumptions underlying the epigraph that need to be defined in clear terms. First, Manto considered himself a writer in the realist tradition, seeking to represent and chronicle the mores and anxieties of his time. But does this mean that he was simply “of his age” and not beyond? Certainly not. Reality for Manto was not simply the external aspects of it. He had a more inclusive concept of reality that incorporated the internal and psychological aspects of people and events. What he asserts in the epigraph is true to some degree, of all great writers of fiction who represent their zeitgeist. But at the same time all great writers also transcend their age because they deal with categories of human experience, emotion and passion that are universal and timeless. This applies to Manto who shows an ever growing relevance with the passage of time. While many of his contemporaries are slowly passing into oblivision, his reputation continues to grow.

Second, Manto’s realism embraces not only those external aspects of reality about which there is general consensus, but also those that are subjective and psychological and, therefore, tend to be more complex and varied. In his best stories, Manto collapse both of these aspects to create the unique vision that he wants to project.

Through the pioneering work of Premchand, Urdu fiction had already divested itself of its obsession with romance and the world of fantasy, by the time Manto began writing. Urdu short fiction had already made its presence felt and was prospering in the hands of Manto’s illustrious contemporaries—Rajinder Singh Bedi, Krishan Chander and Ismart Chughtai. However, even among them he has a special place. The density of some of his works is comparable only with the best in fiction. His writing enables us to look critically at history, nation, politics, sex, and some of our assumptions about them. He has created a galaxy of memorable characters—sultana, Saugandhi, Babu Gopinath, Ustad Mangu, Saha’e , Mummy, Mozel and Ishar Singh, who will ensure the immortality of their creator.

What is Manto’s worldview, his philosophy of life? Though he has propounded no coherent philosophy of life through his fictional and discursive writings, a close reading of them reveals that he gives a higher status to certain values and concepts that may roughly be called his vision of life. These values and concepts include—frankness, honesty, the discrepancy between appearance and reality, the validity of sex in life, the ethics of human relations, and the ambiguous nature of reality. The humanity that shines through in his writings is a hallmark of his fictional art and his sympathy with the downtrodden living on the fringes of society is an integral part of this vision. His acerbic wit and humour and his pitiless irony are the weapons he uses against the spurious idealism and hypocrisy that vitiate social interaction. About his view of man, Mumtaz Shirin, one of the finest critics of Manto says, Manto is not interested in hallowed angels. Manto the writer does not have much to do with pure and innocent angles who can never possibly commit sin. Manto likes men who dare to commit sin. Manto’s human being is neither an angel nor a devil. He is an earthling, a creature of the flesh and blood who has the potentially of Original Sin, mischief, murder and mayhem. But God had ordered angels to pay obeisance to him.

Manto is certainly “of his age,” but in his preoccupation with the general human condition he also transcends it. However, it is a kind of transcendence, one must insist, that works because of an intense engagement with his times.

 

Contents

 

Acknowledgements 7
Introduction 9
by M Asaduddin  
The New Law 45
translated by M Asaduddin  
The Black Shalwar 57
translated by Ralph Russell  
Odour 74
translated by M Asaduddin  
Insult 82
translated by M Asaduddin  
For Freedom's Sake 105
translated by Muhammad Umar Memon  
Khalid 135
translated byAsha Puri  
Barren 147
translated by Moazzam Sheikh and Muhammad Umar Memon  
Saha'e 168
translated by Muhammad Umar Memon  
Black Margins 177
translated by M Asaduddin 0
The Dog of Tetwal 188
translated by Ravikant and Tarun K Saint  
Open it! 200
translated by M Asaduddin  
Cold Meat 204
translated by M Asaduddin  
Toba Tek Singh 212
translated by M Asaduddin  
Ismat Chughtai 221
translated by M Asaduddin  
Ashok Kumar 244
translated by S M Mirza and Muhammad Umar Memon  
Sa'adar Hasan Manto 265
translated by M Asaduddin  
Pandit Manto's First Letter to Pandit Nehru 271
translated by M Asaduddin  
Tassels 276
translated by S M Mirza  
By the Roadside 287
translated by S M Mirza  
Sonorol 294
translated by M Asaduddin  

Sample Page


Item Code: NAI260 Author: Sa’adat Hasan Manto Cover: Paperback Edition: 2009 Publisher: Katha ISBN: 9788187649403 Language: English Size: 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch Pages: 311 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 385 gms
Price: $22.00
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