stories, vikram, vetaal

Wondrous Literary Narratives

Baitaal Pacheesi and Singhasan Batteesi

Literary narratives are known to have a latent relationship between their oral and written forms. Two analogous Indian narratives–Singhasan Batteesi (Thirty-Two Tales of the Throne) and Baitaal Pacheesi (Twenty-five Tales of Baital)–that have passed from the oral to a variety of written forms over a long period of time may be mentioned in this context.

Shankara consumed poison to save humanity as Manto did to salvage life from its ugliness and literature from its sweet sermons. Manto was indeed the Neelkanth of Urdu fiction.

Manto Manto Manto: Then why shouldn’t this man stay on

Saadat Hasan Manto: Proud dissenter; fiercely independent

Shankara consumed poison to save humanity as Manto did to salvage life from its ugliness and literature from its sweet sermons. Manto was indeed the Neelkanth of Urdu fiction.

Dilli is a generic and archetypal name for a city of many fates and fortunes. It has been called variously and treated unevenly. There are many tales of power-play and politics behind each name it got during the course of its grand survival from period to period. Whatever incarnation it acquired through different periods of its history, Dilli served as a dehleez, or an entrance for many rulers—the Sultanas, the Mughals, the Marathas, and the British. Dilli has been a seat of political power through ages; a base of literary cultures through eons, especially since the Medieval period of Indian history. While it offered a stage for rehearsing the onslaughts of rulers, it gave its people a way with language and a hug with culture. The language it nourished came to be known as Urdu; the culture it established came to be associated with a way of life and letters. The patterns of Dilli’s grand existence and impressive survival changed with time. With time, Dilli acquired a comprehensive identity of its own kind. As it transformed itself from age to age, so did its locational and cultural icons. Its architectural wonders--Quwat-ul-Islam and Jama Masjid--found yet other manifestations in Akshardham and Bahai temples; its Grand Trunk Road gave way to National Highways. Its older icons--Qutub Minar, Old Fort, and Red Fort--stood re-imagined as India Gate, Parliament House, and President House; its bazaars of the earlier periods got succeeded by Dilli Haat and Trade Fairs. Its Phool Walon Ki Sair manifested itself afresh into Crafts festivals; its Diwan-e-Khas got a makeover as India Habitat Centre. Some state of the art icons--Garden of Five Senses and Hauz Khas Village--stand as the modern days’ re-configured marvels of cultural transformation.

Dilli jo aik shehr hai

For this city of the past, the present, and the future, one name that holds centrally is Dilli.

Kaun jaaye Zauq par Dilli ki galiyaan chod kar

We have said it all Nothing left to say Let’s go for a drink The night is here to stay

Abhi Raat Kuch Hai Baaqi

When the night finds itself as a muse in Urdu poetry

Poets have often represented night- now as an image, now as a metaphor, now as a symbol. And the way Urdu poets signify different dimensions of the night will definitely leave you spellbound. Here we present a constellation of seven couplets from the mesmerising galaxy of Urdu poetry.

Ai mohabbat tere anjaam pe rona aaya Jaane kyun aaj tere naam pe rona aaya

Shakeel Badayuni: Poet as lyricist; lyricist as poet!

Kal Raat Zindagi Se Mulaaqaat Ho Gayi

A ghazal aficionado, Shakeel Badayuni developed a dialogue with life in all its romantic glory and grandeur

Husn-e-Jaana ki tareef mumkin nahi

Husn-e-Jaana Ki Tareef Mumkin Nahin

Husn-e-baakamaal ki tamseel, sher-o-shayari ke saanche mein.

When it comes to praising the glory of your beloved, poetry always comes handy.