Telling tales in translation

Every story in this collection has depth, focus and its own flavour

Amina Khan December 05, 2015

PESHAWAR: Hindi Kahaniyan is a collection of short stories that have been translated from Hindi to Urdu by Tanveer Ghulam Hussain. The author is well-placed to engage in such a painstaking endeavour as he has a master’s degree and doctorate in Urdu and a diploma in Hindi.

A majority of these stories focus on the ordinary lives of extraordinary characters based in India. The book presents a miscellany of experiences faced by characters who are, at once, true-to-life. Each story is a thread of self-awareness woven together through a variety of themes. Every writer in this collection approaches a diverse menu of subjects through unique perspectives.

Through 10 stories told in 175 pages, the anthology stakes a strong claim to diversity. However, the unifying feature is the depth, focus and calibre of these narratives.

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Overall, these stories are told with brevity and their length is between six to 15 pages. But as you sift through the anthology, there appears to be a risk of overindulgence. More often than not, a reader may feel like he or she has devoured too many stories and failed to relish each delicious bite. Nevertheless, every story has its own flavour that draws people into its fold.

Most of these short stories focus on women and the routine challenges. For instance, Akaili tells the story of an old woman who is waiting for a wedding invitation from her in-laws. She prepares for the wedding and sells her dead son’s rings to buy some gifts. However, the outcome of her initial excitement makes for a tear-jerking climax — an ending that will leave readers with a soaring sense of unease.

Another story narrates the story of a woman who falls in love with her neighbour but later marries a man who aspires to become a lawyer. She works all day to earn money and help her husband achieve this goal. With time, she builds a home with her husband but still longs for the neighbour she could never have. The woman repeatedly struggles to abandon her family to be with the man she loves.

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Other stories like Pinti ka Saabun are unusual but powerful. This is a tale about a teenager who hides a soap bar he won as a prize for winning a race from his family and friends. He eventually loses the respect of his loved ones because of this obsession.

Purdah tells us about how respect and dignity can form the backbone of a society and create problems for individuals. In this story, a man borrows some money but does not tell the lender about his financial constraints. Meanwhile, in Teesra Aadmi, the complex relationship between a husband and his wife is etched out in vivid detail.

Stories in this collection depict the lives of India’s people and highlight their insecurities, desires and emotional turmoil.

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Each story has been impeccably translated and concocts a world that is both satisfying and real. As a whole, they will provide readers with a new lease of life. Overall, this is a wonderful anthology, filled with verve and moving epiphanies. It represents the surfeit of literary talent in Hindi. Moreover, the translation is flawless and remains faithful to the original works.

Title: Hindi Kahaniyan

Author: Tanveer Ghulam Hussain

Publisher: Sang-e-Meel Publications

Price: Rs500 

The writer is a Sub editor at The Express Tribune’s Peshawar desk.
She tweets @Aamenaah

Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2015.

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