Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The other Saadat Hasan Manto

It's interesting to note that the new issue of A Public Space includes a portfolio on Saadat Hasan Manto, the great Urdu writer who lived in Bombay in the 1940s and 1950s, perhaps best known for his Partition stories. But Matt Reeck has put together a portfolio that looks at his other great subject: Bombay

It was a blow to have to leave Bombay, where I had lived such a busy life.
Bombay had taken me in, a wandering outcast thrown out by even his family. She had told me, “You can live happily here on two paise a day or on ten thousand rupees. Or if you want, you can be the saddest person in the world at either price. Here you can do whatever you want, and no one will think you’re strange. Here no one will tell you what to do. You will have to do
every difficult thing on your own, and you will have to make every important
decision by yourself. I don’t care if you live on the sidewalk or in a
magnificent mansion, I don’t care if you stay or go. I’ll always be here.” I
was disconsolate after leaving Bombay. My good friends were there. I had
gotten married there. My first child was born there, as was my second. There
I had gone from earning a couple rupees a day to thousands - hundreds of
thousands - and there I had spent it all. I loved it, and I still do!

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