The first successful attempt at an Urdu Novel

Finished reading टेढ़ी लकीर (Literal Translation – “Oblique line”) by Ismat Chughtai today. It was the first successful attempt at reading Urdu Novel, thanks to the fact that the word-meanings were provided as footnotes with generosity. The one I had tried earlier was Lucknow kee Paanch Raatein, and although I got the gist, it was all in all a टेढ़ी खीर (a phrase symbolizing difficult task).

And this was a good novel. A journey of a character very well portrayed. One reason of liking could be that I sort of identified with the character. Not in terms of her personality or the events of her life. But because of the way her life has drifted. She finds herself is contexts which are poles apart. Read the pages that describe two different stages of her life, and its impossible to connect the two unless you are reading the whole thing in sequence and can see the changes coming over, gradually. Her surroundings, her nature, her beliefs – all of them change. And this is not a change that portrays hypocricy. It is the change that is natural, very natural in human beings because they respond to the “nurturance”, because they learn and adapt through the journey of their lives. There are times, when it produces confusion. I, personally, would have liked this “confusion” aspect to have come out more prominently (what the hell!! I really seem to be in love with that – kept harping on it even in my “review” of Rang De Basanti :D). But whenever it has been portrayed, it has been portrayed well. And yeah, the story-telling aspect is also good in the book. It keeps you glued to the novel and its difficult to leave it once you have started reading it and are some way through. The depiction of girls’ hostels and university students is also an interesting part of the book. You can feel that it isn’t made up. Its very natural for its context. While, it is true that I didn’t have experience of either living in the hostels of all girls’ schools (Navodaya was co-ed), nor that of the university, the portrayel could draw the pictures of those places very vividly before me.

Apparently the book (and the author) is praised for bringing out the story of the life of a Muslim girl, but there was nothing that can not be identified with a non-Muslim context. Yeah, slight change in the language and some differences in the way relationships are viewed, but the character – she could have belonged to just any Indian community of her time.

Regarding the author, although I read her for the first time, she seems to be a well known figure in Urdu Literature. Here are some links about her –

Ismat Chughtai: An Unexplored Territory
India Heritage:Performing Arts:Cinema In India:Personalities

And it seems that Deepa Mehta’s controversial movie Fire was “inspired” by one of her most famous stories Lihaaf.

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About Jaya

Jaya Jha is an entrepreneur, a techie, a writer and a poet. She was born and brought up in various towns of Bihar and Jharkhand. A graduate of IIT Kanpur and IIM Lucknow, she realized early on that the corporate world was not her cup of tea. In 2008, she started, one of the first print-on-demand publishing platform in India. She currently lives in Bangalore and divides her time between writing and working on her company's latest product InstaScribe ( with a vision to make it the best e-book creation tool. Blog: Twitter: @jayajha Facebook:

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