- Language: English
- Genre: Literary Fiction
- Pages: 183 Pages
- Format: Hardcover
- Author: Intizar Husain
- Translator: Nishat Zaidi & Alok Bhalla
- Publishing Date: January, 2018
- Publisher: Niyogi Books
- ISBN-13: 978-9386906274
Intizar Husain is one of the finest author of Urdu prose and the most brilliant story teller of the post partition generation. His most famous novel “Basti” which is set against the backdrop of partition of India was shortlisted for Man Booker prize in 2013. After that, many of his other works has been translated into English. Nearly six decades ago his book Day and Dastan (Din aur Dastan) was first published in Urdu. These two novellas show his flexibility and prowess as a fiction writer. Recently it has been translated into English by Nishat Zaidi and Alok Bhalla.
Born in Uttar Pradesh Husain migrated to Pakistan in 1947. Many of his critics believe that his longing for life before partition reflects in his prose. He has also been accused of being self-indulgent for turning to the past, both personal and communal. But according to him, his narrative journey shows his lifelong engagement with questions thrown up by the partition and his subsequent migration. For him storytelling is a journey, a quest to understand human experiences.
These two novellas try to raise ethical questions related to Partition of India. According to Husain, he tries to understand the impact of separation on human relations by turning to the past. Both the stories follow completely different routes to come to terms with the devastating events of the Partition.
Day or Din is story of Zamir and Tahsina and their repressed feelings. This story beautifully captures the nostalgia of personal past. After receiving the news of his grandfather’s demise, Zamir and his family journeys back to their ancestral home. The old ancestral haveli reminds him of the past; childhood spent with affectionate yet strict grandfather, loving paternal aunt, caring and kind Tahsina, nationalist politics etc. Under the constant watchful gaze of their elders, both the youngsters are unable to express their feelings of first adolescent love. As his modern father opts for voluntary retirement and a modern style kothi, Zamir slowly observes painful ending of the old world.
Unlike Day which deals with personal past, Dastan beautifully intertwines reality with fantasy. Written in a classic storytelling format (dastangoi), this story consists of people who are displaced by riots. Story begins with Hakim Ji and his dastans. His entire library of dastans was burnt in the riots. Along with lives and property, riots took away from him his most valuable belongings; his stories. However with some efforts, Hakim Ji does manage to recall a few of these stories which he claims are real. The novella is written in two parts, ‘Jal Garje‘ and ‘Ghode Ki Nida‘. With its lyrical prose both these stories take us backward in time. Throughout the novella, facts and historical events are interwoven with fiction (dastan), such as, war (razm), assembly (bazm), beauty and love (husn-o-ishq) and enchantment (tilism).
The two stories may appear to be stark opposite of each other- one focusing on personal past and other focusing on historical events through eternal and eventless tales. But Husain’s intention with both these stories was same. He wanted to understand his history in terms of what’s going around him and in terms of those problems which affect human being as a community.
My Rating 4/5
Thank you Niyogi Books for sending me this book for review.