THE HYDER ANTHOLOGY YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR...
Here’s a special treat for all Qurratulain Hyder fans! Presenting an exceptional anthology of her non-fiction and fiction writing, including in translation for the first time, essays from her multi-volume, magisterial autobiography, Kar-e Jahan Daraz Hai!
INSIDE ANIE APA’S WORLD
Born in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, in 1927, Qurratulain Hyder, or Anie Apa to her friends and fans, grew up to be a prolific and precocious writer. Her first story was published when she was only 11, though she had been writing much before then! This wasn’t surprising, given her background—both her parents were well-known writers. Her mother, Nazar Sajjad Haider was a novelist and short story writer, whose main concern was oppression of women. Her father, Sajjad Haider, was a writer of short stories and travelogues, a humorist, essayist, and playwright.
Hyder broke the accepted norms of storytelling and believed her writing was ‘an attempt to capture the spirit of the times’. Partition provided her with her most dedicated subject; for her, it was ‘an almost mystical tragedy’. The shock was perhaps particularly pronounced as ‘the tribes, castes, and classes of peoples who knew little of politicking were carved up and apportioned between the two countries’. She crossed the border from India to Pakistan ‘in the wake of burning trains of corpses going into and out of both countries.
Hyder returned to India in the early 1960s and lived in Bombay for two decades before shifting back to north India. She is the author of four collections of short stories, five novels and several novellas. Among her works that have been translated into English are River of Fire (Aag ka Darya); Ship of Sorrows (Safina-e Gham-e Dil); My Temples, Too (Mere Bhi Sanamkhane); Fireflies in the Mist (Aakhir-e Shab kay Hamsafar); Street Singers of Lucknow and Other Stories; Beyond the Stars and Other Stories (Sitaron se Aage); and Chandni Begum.
At Home in India is a dazzling collection of Hyder’s non-fiction and fiction writing. For the first time, Anglophone readers can enjoy translations of essays from her multi-volume, magisterial autobiography, Kar-e Jahan Daraz Hai, in which real people, eminent personalities, and landmark events, together, narrate the grand story of an illustrious family—and a subcontinent—grappling with Partition and its aftermath.
In addition, there are newly translated short stories; charming sketches of prominent women, like Hyder’s writer-mentors, Rashid Jahan and Anis Kidwai, and the film icon, Nargis; as well as rare, candid conversations with the author, on literature and life.
When I went to the Soviet Union for the first time, Russians would start singing “Awara hoon…” as soon as they saw us. In Azerbaijan, they raised the slogan “Nargis–Raj Kapoor–Allah o Akbar.” ... There is a saying in English: “All the world loves a lover.” The romance between Nargis and Raj Kapoor has become part of the modern culture of India; but it is also necessary for a great romance to end in tragedy, and so the story of Nargis and Raj Kapoor ended like a tragic film.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATORS:
Fatima Rizvi is a Professor in the Department of English and Modern European Languages at the University of Lucknow. She has translated Qurratulain Hyder’s Beyond the Stars & Other Stories, and co-edited Understanding Disability: Interdisciplinary Critical Approaches.
Sufia Kidwai taught English at Christ Church College, Lucknow. She has translated Mirza Jafar Hussain’s Lucknow ka Dastarkhwan as The Classic Cuisine of Lucknow: a Food Memoir, and edited and contributed to the anthology, Lucknowi Bawarchi Khane: Food from Lucknow Homes.
AN EXCERPT FROM AT HOME IN INDIA:
As the World Turns (Kar-e Jahan Daraz Hai)
Ashiana, No. 13, Inder Road, Dalanwala, was located at the farthest end of the road, a little distance away from Eastern Canal road. On one side, a river hurtled downhill noisily. In front, beyond the portico, was a dense mango and litchi orchard. Blue flowers bloomed on a picturesque little hillock in the garden. In the trees lived birds that sang sweetly.
Bhai was in his first year at DAV College and I had been admitted into a convent school for my primary education. Amma always thought, without reason, that Abbajan, Bhai and I were going to fall ill. Dr Puran Chand Hoon, who was Papa Nazrul Baqar’s physician in Arcadia around 1928, was summoned every other day to conduct a “check-up”.
A number of Abbajan’s and Amma’s old friends lived in Dalanwala. Sahibzadah Saeed-uzzafar Khan who lived in Nastaran went for his morning walk every day, head lowered.Ahead of him, his daughter, Hameeda, cycled down the road at top speed. Amir Mustafa Khan’s lawns were home to his pet deer. And on Nemi Road, Maulvi Inayatullah actually had a zoo of sorts at his place. Chacha Inayatullah came to live here after retiring from service in Hyderabad. He was a bachelor and loved animals and children. Often in the evenings he took me for a drive in his Hillman Minx and all the while I’d ask him silly questions.
His younger brother and sister-in-law, Chacha Razaullah and Sultana Khala, lived on the banks of the Rispana. A little way away stood Anis Fatima Kidwai’s (she was the daughter of Vilayat Ali alias Bambooq) kothi. Akbar Allahabadi’s granddaughter from his son, Mushafi Khala, lived in the neighbourhood of the Imperial Forest College. It was her husband’s practice that whenever he visited someone for the first time he’d send a detailed introduction of his wife to the inner, women’s quarters of the house. When he called on Ashiana, our cook, Faqira, stood in the portico, scratching his ear. He was instructed: “Go and tell Begum Sahiba that Akbar Allahabadi’s granddaughter, Syed Ishrat Hussain Sahib’s daughter, Nawab Sahib Paryawaan’s granddaughter, has come over.”
Faqira came in and told Amma in brief, “Nawab Sahib’s Pari has come.” What can one say about Faqira—he always called Mr Mirchandani, Mr Machchardaani!
Our Phuphi’s son, Sultan Hyder, came over from Nehtaur. Thanks to his visit the entire household came alive. A daughter of one of the late Mir Nazrul Baqar’s Muslim friends from a border district had converted to Christianity. She had just returned from America after completing her studies, financed by the missionaries, and lived in a neighbouring cottage. She was a very portly woman, and had a rather protracted name indicating her Muslim and Christian identities. Sultan Bhai was quite upset at her conversion. In one breath he referred to her as Miss Azhar Akhtar Rasheeda Saeeda Georgina Francesca Douglas Scott Fat-so, and I burst out laughing uncontrollably.
One morning, while reading the newspaper, he said to Amma, “Listen to this, Mumanijan: ‘Direction by Bai Jaddan Bai; Story by Bai Jaddan Bai; Music by Bai Jaddan Bai.”
“Subhan Allah, Raees-e Goprakhpur!” exclaimed our driver, Bashir Khan, standing in the doorway, in mock appreciation.
Raees-e Goprakhpur, whose name also featured in Avadh Punch, visited us often in Ghazipur. Like the poet, Ahmaq Phapoondvi, from Etawah, he always caught Bashir Khan’s interest. Ashiana became quiet after Sultan Bhai returned to Nehtaur; and again the music of the sitar began to echo in the house in the evenings.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR: