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Lihaaf (The Quilt)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  727 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Ismat's life has been an inspiring struggle against conservatism. She writes about the life of ordinary people with sensitivity and humor. Major collection of short stories on women.
Published (first published December 1st 1994)
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There is a game that I've known young girls across countries to play. It goes by several names; mummy-daddy, family or house. In some cultures, this game is met with apprehension, an apprehension rooted in the belief that children are not sexual beings. If one were to consider the converse, it isn't merely a matter of freudian infantile sexuality but what one means by the term children. The idea of a child inherently assumes a discontinuous mental and emotional growth. Ismat Chughtai looks at gr ...more
Savir  Husain Khan
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This story was published in 1942 and is about homosexuality. Homosexuality is still one of the most controversial issues in India, so choosing this theme was a brave step by Ismat Aapa.
There was huge uproar at that time for the theme of this book, which even got her summoned to the court on charges of obscenity.
The setting of the story is early pre or post-independence India,
its a story of Begum Jaan, the beautiful wife of Nawab Sahab.
She does not get the attention of her husband due to his sexu
Ravi Prakash
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read 'Lihaaf' by Ismat Chugtai a few years ago in Hindi and I was dumbfounded by her portrayal of characters. I read it today in english and got the same feelings
Last week, I watched , "Dedh Ishqiya" again. I love this movie. Now, while comparing to this story, I find a lot of similarities between both of them. Begam Para Jaan of the movie is the Begam Jaan and Rabbo has relevance with Munniya. Do both-watch the movie and read the story. Then, I think, you will be able to find out how a forl
Ismat Chughtai was a forward-looking author in an era where "good women" were obedient, not in the world and forward looking. She came from what was then a part of northern India, now Pakistan, and Urdu was her language. Her family was Muslim, and her father insisted that all ten of his children be given a fine and complete education. She was considered rather radical and was even taken to trial by the powers that were at the time for pornography, for THE QUILT, one of the short stories in this ...more
Priya Narayanan
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The Quilt', which is the second story in the book, would be a shocker to a lot of current day readers, so I can only imagine how it was received when first published. No wonder, it has been chosen as the title of the book. The book is a collection of 10 stories and each one leaves a distinct after-taste. The stories show how wonderfully interwoven the lives of Hindus and Muslims were at one point of time, and leaves you wanting for more.
Medha Sehtia
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Question everything. Find what has been brushed under the carpet. It is never black and white.
Onaiza Khan
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ایک بہترین کھانی جو کی بِحد ماسومیت کے ساتھ کئی گھری باتوں پر روشنی ڈالتی ہے
Girl from Mumbai
Spending a melancholic moody Monday evening in the company of Ismat Appa with "Quilt (Lihaaf) and other stories". This book is a fabulous collection of short stories by the grand dame of Urdu fiction “Ismat Chughtai”. She was a well-educated, well read and very prolific writer of Urdu literature who constantly defied society and broke the rules that it laid down upon her. The crust of her writing was set in the Indian Muslim middle-class society centered especially around women. Her stories were ...more
Apr 20, 2018 marked it as it-s-not-me-it-s-you  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-fiction, india
DNF after three stories, due to the bad taste left by the titular "The Quilt." Let's hear it for predatory lesbians amirite. Contexts differ, and obviously it would have rang very differently for its intended contemporary audience, but I found the positioning of villains and innocents in the story enough to disengage from the rest of the material.

Anand Ganapathy
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ourlibrary
A Collection of 10 stories by Ismat Chugtai, one of the most courageous Urdu writers in the 20th century. M.Asaduddin the translator is a professor of English literature and has done a good job in selecting some of Ismat 's best short fiction. Loved some of the stories in this book especially Roots which has dealt with India's partition in a touching manner.
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely mesmerizing. I read it in it's Hindi script and fell in love with the writing style. Even though I loathe reading in Hindi I would suggest everyone who can should read it.
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read both the translations of Ismat Chughtai's Lihaaf, that translated by M. Asaduddin, and that by Tahira Naqvi and Syeda S. Hameed, and I have to say after reading both of them, the one by Tahira Naqvi and Syeda S. Hameed is the one worth reading. Begum Jaan's sexuality is represented as something deviant in M. Asaduddin's translation far more than it is in the other, and I felt that M. Assaduddin's translation wasn't as well-written as Naqvi and Hameed's.

Nonetheless, there is deviancy in t
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
My, my. Someone writing a story about homosexuality in the pre-independence years of India and Pakistan? I wouldn't have believed it if it weren't for the hilarious short story Lihaaf by author Ismat Chughtai. Wow.

The story is about a young and gorgeous Begum and her maid. It's narrated by an old guest of the former who visited her as a child. It's a story about the elephant under the quilt and about repressed desires. The narration doesn't lack in humour, detail nor in honesty.

Like I said, it
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
''Lihaaf'' is a short story written by prominent Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai. Ismat Chughtai is known for her fierce feminist ideologies. The short story was a cultural shock for its homoerotic overtones, creating a public uproar and leading Ismat to a court trial for obscenity and endangering public morality. She was asked to apologize which she didn’t and also won the case because the story doesn’t mention any sexual activity explicitly. The story was criticized by conservative literary critics ...more
Ismat Chughtai has mastered the art of short stories. Her stories are so moving, profound, and heartwrenching. She is absolutely brutal in the content and the manner in which she delivers her story. Her insightful, humorous, and mischevious eye for the intricate details of the subcontinent's households seems to miss nothing. These stories leave you with so many emotions - dread, ecstasy, horror, bliss. The way she delivers her endings for each story leaves a harrowing mark on you. I'm absolutely ...more
Vijay Maram
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel completely surprises me, 'ismat chugthai' had expressed feelings in tactile way which reminds us of days of independence and the life then. Each story has a specific feel good message sent along. The language author used seems very simple for the way she expressed the feelings in a beautiful way.
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cultural significance of Chughtais writing is evident on the page. I feel Im losing something in the translation, however. The stories that grabbed me the most were the ones depedent on action an dialogue over prose. Many times characters and scenes were fluid and vague. Im going to attribute that to not reading the Urdu originals.
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 2nd story 'Quilt' was awesome, read it first in my college literature class and it still has the same goosebump effect on me. Loved the other stories too. Wish I knew urdu to read the stories in their essence which I felt as lacking in the English translation.
Quite entertaining and lovely pinch of humour. The book was a true pani-puri experience, a thousand flavours teasing your senses.
Beautifully written. The English translation is not as good as the Hindi version but it's still pretty great. Would recommend it to everyone, especially those fond of short stories that do not state things obviously.

Astha Khare
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not sure what I wanna say about this one! Ismat Chughtai is a great writer, but this story does not do for me! Maybe you cannot(should not) judge an Urdu story by its English translation!
Niveditha N
Aaahhhmmmmm aaaa... really confused about what got reviewed in my head...
A little tangy... and mildly sour... well a good book for over coffee or tea & pakkoda.
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
funny, heartwarming, entertaining and still incisive
Shubhangi Sood
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful read!
মবিনুল হকের অনুবাদে ভাষাবনধন পরকাশনী থেকে পরকাশিত আমার হাতে থাকা লেপ ও অনযানয গলপ। পরথমেই বলে রাখি, চমৎকার অনুবাদ। এত সুনদর বরণনা, অনুবাদেও যার মাজেজা অটুট। মবিনুল হককে ধনযবাদ।

চুগতাই মূলত ঘর সংসার, সেইখানে মেয়েদের অবসথা, তাদের বিভিনন পাকেচকরে জড়িয়ে যাওয়া, সটরাগল এইসব গলপে তুলে ধরেন। শেষের আতমজীবনীমূলক "আমার ইতিকথা" বাদে সব গলপই মোটামুটি ঘরের ভেতর ঘুরেছে ফিরেছে। এতে বোর লাগার কথা। কিনতু তা লাগে না, কারণ তিনি সুলেখিকা। বাহুলয কম। বরণনা যেখানে চাই, সেখানে চোসত ভাষায় ওজনদার বরণনা, যেখানে বরণনা গলপক
Sharmilee Patel
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Story is narrated by a girl who used to be left at her aunt's place during the time her mother used to go to her maternal family. It is amazing potrayal of plight and agony of sexually forsaken queen by her homosexual king. loved the language and writing style. Dedh Ishquiya seem to be inspired by this story.

I would like to mention some after effects of the story:
Ismat Chughtai was tried in court for the ‘obscene’ content of this story, and eventually won the case. This is what ensued in court:
Miranda Brist
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A diverse collection of Chughtai's stories in translation*, unified by their attention to the "lot of women" and the intricate turnings of the world of the zenana. My favorites among the fifteen stories? I have to say I quite enjoyed "A Morsel/Niwala," and took some morbid delight in "Scent of the Body/Badan ki Khushboo." However, in my opinion, the most standout piece of literary work here (at least in translation) is "Sacred Duty/Muqaddas Farz," which somehow manages to be equally terrifying a ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: south-asian, poco
3.5/5. The stories themselves are fantastic. The Quilt, A Morsel, Scent of the Body, A Pair of Hands, The Wedding Shroud, and The Veil are all superb. Ismat Chughtai is able to bring characters to life with warmth and wit while simultaneously skewering the banal tyrannies of caste, class, and gender that pervade the daily lives of her characters.

However, there are translation issues -- Syeda Hameed, responsible for translating about 1/3 of the stories in this book, is a much inferior translator
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While 'The Quilt' is certainly a landmark story when it comes to explore female sexuality and that too homosexuality, Isamt Chugthai also manages to weave other terrific stories in this collection. It is rather sad that people often credit her only for her exploration of sexuality and breaking taboos when in reality she has done much more than that. I cannot remember the last female author since Mannu Bhandari whose stories have touched me so much. These are not just stories about sex, misogynis ...more
Jul 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit to read Ismat Chugtai in English was bit less of fun. Humor that is derived from language than the idea is not quite translated in English. BOok is anthology on collection of stories with theme of relationships and sex. There is lesbianism, lust, desire, love. My favorite story was 'Homemaker' about Lajo, the former prostitute and simpleton Mirza.

Another one I remember is about CHoudhary the painter and his female muse who is a roadside urchin and how the story ends.

Reading abou
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Ismat Chughtai (Urdu: عصمت چغتائی) (August 1915 – 24 October 1991) was an eminent Urdu writer, known for her indomitable spirit and a fierce feminist ideology. She was considered the grand dame of Urdu fiction, Along with Rashid Jahan, Wajeda Tabassum and Qurratulain Hyder, Ismat’s work stands for the birth of a revolutionary feminist politics and aesthetics in twentieth century Urdu literature. S ...more
“She sat quietly in one corner of the sofa, the end of her sari drawn modestly over her hair. Like the motionless illusion of a madly spinning top, she was staring vacantly into space.” 4 likes
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