April 03, 2020
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Colour Of Straw

Explores Hindu-Muslim interaction in pre-partition India, the trauma of migration and the burden of the past with a delicate touch.

Colour Of Straw
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
Stories—Intizar Husain
By Moazzam Sheikh
Katha Pages: 232; Rs 250
The protagonist in Strangers, one of Intizar Husain’s shorter stories in this excellent collection, lies on his bed and watches the straws float down towards him from a sparrow’s nest. And as they float, his mind wanders, weaving through the tempting bylanes of lost times; his mind’s eye chases the memory of a sparrow that had once been coloured pink. "There was no order, no continuity in his memories of those past moments. Mismatched and out of sequence memories, huddled and interwoven with each other—afternoons, evenings, mornings—dissolving into one, partially erased contours from whose depth a pink shadow appeared..."

One of Pakistan’s best-known writers, Intizar Husain explores Hindu-Muslim interaction in pre-partition India, the trauma of migration and the burden of the past with a delicate touch. The agony of the person who left, the mystery of the one left behind, the thoughts of a careless childhood spent in the lanes of distant villages no longer within reach, teenage infatuations that glow and smoulder when they have no reason to...Husain knows exactly where to scratch.

Again and again, he takes a moment, a thought, a vision and turns it into the defining event in a life, a small stone that leaves endless concentric ripples, an apparition that refuses to go away. Only master short story writers can do this, and Husain is certainly that. That the stories retain the delicacy they must have in Urdu is a tribute to translator Moazzam Sheikh.

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