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Baksa and Other Short Stories

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Item Code: HAO361
Author: Zakia Mashhadi
Publisher: National Book Trust, India
Language: English
Edition: 2022
ISBN: 9789354910654
Pages: 181
Other Details 8.5x5.5 inch
Weight 212 gm
Book Description
About The Book

BAKSA and other short stories The short stories in this collection span a wide array of topics that ensnare the urban landscape as well as the rural countryside of India, while telling the tales about the conflicts of the rich and the poor alike. The characters, along with their lives and happenings, delve and uncover issues of communalism, sectarianism and religion among other topics. This collection of fascinating short stories, translated from the original Urdu by the author and other translators, shows a mirror to Indian society and provides a socio- psychological insight into the human psyche

About the Author

ZAKIA MASHHADI (b. 1944) is an Urdu fiction writer, as well as translator, who has now been writing for over 40 years. She has to her credit seven collections of short stories, three novels and 16 translations of fiction, as well as academic books, in Hindi, Urdu and English. Currently she is working on an Urdu translation of Tamil short stories and also on a new collection of her own stories. It can be said that no anthology of contemporary Urdu literature is complete without a story of hers. Her stellar works have brought her literary acclaim. Recently she has been awarded the highly prestigious "Iqbal Samman" by the Ministry of Arts and Culture, Government of Madhya Pradesh. She has also been bestowed with awards like Sahitya Academy Award for Translation from English into Urdu and Mirza Ghalib Award for Literature, to name just a few.


Zakia Mashhadi is a remarkable writer - remarkable for the range of her interests, the tensile strength and beauty of her words and the complete absence of rhetorical flourishes in her crisp, compact prose. I met her some years ago at her home in Patna for the first time, and was impressed by her warmth and empathy, not to mention generous hospitality. She served me a sumptuous tea in her balcony overlooking the vast expanse of the mighty Ganga river that, literally, flows past her doorstep. In the course of reading her over the years, I found the same qualities I had noticed in that first meeting echoed in her writing: namely empathy and good-natured warmth. Today, having read most, if not all, of her work, and having translated one of her stories, I do believe she is one of the finest voices we have in contemporary Urdu fiction.

Zakia apa, as I have taken to calling her in the last decade or so that I have known her, is somewhat of a late-bloomer as a writer. Wrapped in the constraints of domesticity for far too long, she is now, well into her seventies, and is finding her true voice and writing robust stories on a host of issues communalism, sectarianism, religious identity, the pulls and pressures of city life, sharp rural poverty and deprivation that city folk cannot even imagine, the rural-urban divide and yes, gender. She seems especially interested in lives that are marginalized, disenfranchised and disinvested of everything; in their nakedness and abjectness she seeks and finds kernels of humanity. With these she paints glowing cameos such as the stoic Ram Dhani's Mother and the selfless, loving Badi Amma. Everywhere, in each of these tautly constructed stories, Zakia apa's advanced degree on Psychology, and her stint as a teacher of Psychology, explains her interest and understanding of the human mind. Never judgmental or condemnatory of human failings, she seems to view her task as a writer to lay bare her character and leave it to the reader to draw what they wish.

Often the translator of her own stories, in 'Man' (Aadmi) she weaves a densely lush tapestry alive with the sound and colour of rural India: a hamlet in the Himalayan foothills is plagued by animal attacks: serpents, leopards, elephants and finally the most bestial of all, Man. Leaving a great deal unsaid, Zakia apa nonetheless tells a heart-wrenching story of the bestiality men unleash on little girls. Some of these horrific stories make it to the national headlines, such as the Kathua rape case; but so many go unreported.

The nameless, faceless migrants, who come from remote rural areas to big cities in search of a living, appear in two of her stories included here: an impoverished, emaciated family that comes to Patna to find food, clothes and shelter but loses a son to the mighty river in 'Har Har Gange' and the little girl employed as a maid in the heart-breaking story 'Doll'. Leaving her kuchha home in some remote hamlet, boarding a train for the very first time, a young girl who remains nameless throughout the story, is employed by a couple to look after their small children and do various errands around the home. While reasonably well-fed and looked after by her kindly employers, a nameless desire to return to her roots overwhelms her; she runs away with the two most 'valuable' things in her employers' home: not cash or jewellery, but a doll that has long fascinated her and a big book full of colourful illustrations.

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