Almost everyone in the country has read or watched something written by Ismat Chughtai. She wrote Garam Hawa (with Kaifi Azmi), which is considered to be a cinematic classic, but she most renowned for her short-story Lihaaf, which had homosexual themes, a very bold thing back in her day.
We recently stumbled upon an old interview of hers with Prasar Bharti, and its all kinds of warm. In the interview, she talks about her parents, and how her father loved her mother so much, he used to say that he could easily live his life with her without the kids.
Hamare abba kehte the ki tum sab na hote, tab bhi hum apni begum ke sahaare ji sakte the.
She also discussed how she got a secular upbringing, which was rooted in reality. For instance, in a hilarious bit, she tells that her parents used to talk if they should celebrate Diwali, and used to go ahead with it, hoping it will bring prosperity.
Abba ne amma se kaha, “Diwali kaahe ke liye?”. (Toh amma boli) “Laxmi aati hai”. Toh unhone kaha, “Laxmi tumhare yahan kyun ayengi, tum musalman ho”, aur amma ne kaha, “Arey unn bechari ko kya maloom kaun Hindu hai, kaun musalman, woh jahan roshni dekhengi chali aayengi”.
She further talked about Shaheed Lateef, her husband from 1942–1967, and how he would say that she shouldn’t handle money matters but she did anyway. She also pointed out that she was better at saving money than him.
When asked about her writing influences, she said that she admired a lot of people, but never copied them. Manto was one of them, and the other being George Bernard Shaw.
Sab kehte the Bernard Shaw ko maine ghola aur pi gayi.
But she added what she understood about writing a story – There has to be a beginning, a middle, and an end.
You know? Simple. Like herself, and this beautiful interview. You can watch it here: