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Saadat Hasan Manto Translated by Khalid Hasan
ISBN # : 978695160404
Publisher: Alhamra
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A wet afternoon is Khalid Hasans superlative translation of some of Saadat Hasan Mantos greatest works, his short stories and the sketches he wrote of the people around him. Khalid does justice to Mantos work and Urdus greatest short story writer gets an ample opportunity to astound with the force of his talent.
Undoubtedly, Mantos work was saturated with poignancy. Despite there brevity, Manto penned stories that brought to the fore the hypocrisy in our hearts with great contrast. He has been condemned ever since because he chose to depict this through the characters he saw all around him-the pimps, courtesans and prostitutes that were the soul of the Bombay he inhabited. Despite this seemingly far removed social milieu, what he grapples with is hardly alien to more mainstream society.
One of his shortest stories is about a family of Jains who in keeping with there religion injunctions do not personally harm there Muslim neighbours during the partition riots, but instead have others do the needful. Another narrates how a train is stopped and people from the other religion are mercilessly raped and massacred, whilst the others are treated to biscuits and tea. As the train pulls out- the leader of the band apologises profusely to his co-religionists for the austere fare put out in there honour.
The partition was something that he came back to often. And not surprisingly, for it was undoubtedly a horrific epoch in our history, and notwithstanding the rivers of blood that flowed through the Punjab it was the dismemberment of the India they knew that must have caused unimaginable emotional turmoil.
It hard to escape the fact that many of the revolutionaries that dreamt of liberty, of peace and happiness in an India free from the fetters of colonialism, died embittered and disenchanted men even though there dreams had apparently found fruition.
They had dreamt of tolerance, happiness and egalitarianism in contrast to the brutal oppression of the British in there waning years; instead they had to settle for two pockmarked countries ravaged with ethnic infighting and anarchy.
The tragic disillusionment of people like Kaifi Azmi, was not lost on Manto-and neither was he himself a stranger to the pains of what he termed fratricide. He himself was laid off from a Bombay production studio apparently because of his religion. Infact Mirza Ghalib, the movie based around the life of Urdus foremost poet was written by Manto-but he was forced to leave India before production started.
Like others of his generation, and circumstances, he lived a bitter life, one that was cut short in his case by alcoholism. It was probably this very despair that made Mantos, deep dark work stand out in such contrast to the otherwise more de-odorised prose that is generally written in Urdu.

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