Read Manto’s fiction to grasp Indianness5 min read . Updated: 09 Mar 2013, 12:08 AM IST
To read Saadat Hasan Manto in fiction is to grasp Indianness, if not India
Thirty years ago, Debonair published a translation of Bu. It was the story of a man in Bombay, likely in Bandra, intoxicated by the odour of a peasant girl’s armpits. I was about 13 then and came across it in a copy of the magazine I had borrowed from my father’s room. I noticed the title, I think it was translated as “Odour", between those photographs and began to read. It was the most intelligent, mature thing. It was Indian in a way that nothing else I had read in English till then had been. Those who are familiar with it know, it was electrifying. As my friend from Lahore might say: Meri to battiyan udd gayi (I was stunned).
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