Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Kingdom's End - Saadat Hasan Manto

The book starts with an introduction like,
Saadat Hasan Manto wrote his own epitaph six months before he died..
This is what he said:Here lies Saadat Hasan Manto and with him lie buried all the secrets and mysteries of the art of short-story writing.Under tons of earth he lies,still wondering who among the two is the greater short-story writer: God or he.
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
These lines clearly indicate the author's caliber as a short-story writer..Saadat Hasan Manto is known as the most celebrated author in Urdu although his writings are considered obscene in those times..I was quite reluctant to write my reading experience about this work,as I know I couldn't justify my actual delight of reading it..I loved it that much..Manto share his ease of gripping story telling art with another legendary writer,poet Gulzar..There are many resemblances in the simplicity,style and ease with which both the authors narrate the story that certainly leaves us spellbound...Both the authors depicted Partition horrors in a very touching manner as we know they themselves identify with those stories..Apart from partition stories Manto was first to write about what had until then forbidden territory in Urdu literature..His writings reflect his empathy towards the ordinary lives of rejects of society..

This book titled with one of the stories 'Kingdom's End' consists 28 finest stories about various concepts like partition,whore houses,sexual urge,adolescence etc..Manto,the supreme humanist depicts the lives of those ordinary in an extraordinary manner..There is no greatness in seeing beauty in great things but to bring out the beauty in plain and common things is vital..And this author is a master story teller in that regard..Though I loved each and every story,as far as I remember,Mozail,A woman's life,Siraj,The wild Cactus are few of my favourites among them..Stories like The woman's life,Siraj and The room with bright light depicts the irony of whore houses..I still wonder how could I so loved these vulgar lives,for I used to look upon them so indifferently and disrespectably till now...I never knew that nakedness could be so respectful and dignified until I read Manto..He did not tried  to hide any truth or vulgarity but he presented them as they really are,yet in a beautiful way..Certainly he is one of those great writers who would bring gems out of clay...I would say this one of the few delightful reads for me this year..

Here are few lines from the book,
About Manto's writing in the story Babu Gopinath,
He had a talent for coining words which,though not to be found in any dictionary,somehow always managed to express his meaning.'When he writes,it is dharan thaktha.Nobody can get people's "continuity" together like him.
Mozail's last words,
Take away this rag of your religion.I don't need it.
From the story 'On the Balcony',
I'm afraid of death because I want to live.You are not afraid of death because you do not know how to live.A person does not know the art of living,for him to be alive is like being dead...
From the story 'Mummy'...about Mummy:
She was wearing the same vulgar,tasteless make-up under which her wrinkles could be seen in high relief.She looked happy.I wondered why people thought escape to be a bad thing.Here was an act of escape.The exterior was unattractive,but soul was beautiful.Did she need all those unguents,lotions and colouring liquids ?
Publisher : Penguin Modern Classics
Pages : 309


leol said...

Are the stories originally written in English?

A Homemaker's Utopia said...

No,the original stories were in Urdu and this is a translation by Khalid Hasan.

Ranjana's craft blog said...

Seems interesting...very strong words

Kokila Gupta said...

He is one of my favorite writers Nagini and I have read hindi translations of his works . You have aptly compared him to Gulzar . I can't leave without saying that the quotes you have presented are wonderful translations, so kudos to Khalid Hassan !

Rajlakshmi said...

such beautiful and powerful quotes from the book. Thank you for sharing it :)

vishal bheeroo said...

The quotes are amazing and powerful. I heard so much about Manto, one of the best short stories teller and wanna read his work:)

vajra deep said...

Thank you Nagini for the post. I will put this book in my recommended reading list. Thanks again for your grateful work towards art.

Bikramjit Singh Mann said...

I find that in translations we often lose the emotion .. But going by the quotes it seems a job well done ..