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Ismat Chughtai

Image of Ismat Chughtai

Ismat Chughtai (1915–1991) is among the earliest women Urdu writers. After receiving her education at Agra, Aligarh, and Lucknow, she worked as a headmistress first in Jawra State and later at Bareilly. Her literary career started in 1938 with a play. Subsequently she wrote short stories which appeared in the renowned literary magazines of the time. A major voice in the Progressive Writers’ Movement and an outspoken champion of women’s causes, she moved to Mumbai, married writer, producer, and director Shahid Lateef, and wrote for films and the radio. Her published works include several collections of short stories, three novellas, and ten novels, of which Terhi Lakir and Ajeeb Aadmi have been translated into English as The Crooked Line (Heinemann, 1995) and A Very Strange Man (Women Unlimited, 2007). “Lihaaf” (The Quilt) is considered her most controversial work as it deals with the plight of a married woman thirsting for her husband’s love and embrace which, when denied, drive her to the affections of another woman.

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