Friday, 7 December 2012

Saadat Manto's 'Toba Tek Singh'

I have recently discovered the writer, Saadat Manto, he wrote short stories in Urdu, the bad boy of Partition literature. This story 'Toba Tek Singh' is one of his most popular, a satire on the separation of India and Pakistan, and focuses on the exchange across the border of inmates from mental institutions (based on fact).

'All that these inmates knew was that there was a man by the name of Quaid-e-Azam who had set up a separate state for Muslims, called Pakistan. But they had no idea where Pakistan was. That was why they were all at a loss whether they were now in India or in Pakistan. If they were in India, then where was Pakistan? If they were in Pakistan, how come that only a short while ago they were in India? How could they be in India a short while ago and now suddenly in Pakistan?'

The full story is here in English, it is very short, and funny and desperately sad at the same time. I just wish I could understand Urdu and read the original.

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