On Tuesday, Google Doodle paid a tribute to famous Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai to celebrate her 107th birth anniversary. In a blog post Google wrote, “The grande dame of Urdu fiction would have been 107 today.”
In the 1930s, her core subjects ranged from female sexuality and femininity to middle-class gentility and class conflict. ‘Lihaf’ (The Quilt) written by Chughtai in 1942 can be regarded as one of her most courageous pieces. It dealt with the story of a begum in Aligarh who apparently had an affair with her female help and this was touted to be a well-circulated rumour back then.
Ismat Chughtai came to be recognised as an important voice in Urdu literature in the twentieth century. A Padma Shri recipient, her accomplishments in the field of literature, brought about a new culture into existence. Being the ninth of ten siblings, her second-oldest sibling, Azim Beg Chughtai mentored her. Her daughter, nephew and niece were married to Hindus and in her own words, she belonged to a family of “Hindus, Muslims and Christians who all live peacefully”.
Apart from writing thought-provoking pieces, she also came to the forefront as a screenwriter with various Bollywood projects like Arzoo, Faraib and Sone Ki Chidiya. She passed away in 1991, at the age of 76.