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Aftab Ahmad

Aftab Ahmad earned his PhD in Urdu literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Having served as the Director of the American Institute of Urdu Studies Program in Lucknow for five years, he began teaching as an Urdu lecturer at UC-Berkeley in 2006. “Reflections on Growing up Muslim in India,” his essay about being a religious minority in India, was recently published serially in Fire, an Urdu-language newspaper in Lucknow.

Seventh Letter to Uncle Sam

Saadat Hasan Manto (1912–1955) is a giant of South Asian fiction. His Urdu stories, vignettes, anecdotal prose, and satire place him squarely at the center of the Urdu canon. His continued cultural relevance can be attested to new dramatic works centered on his life and writing: the 2018 film Manto by the famous Indian actress, activist, and director Nandita Das, and the 2019 staging of Manto’s work by Motley, the Mumbai theater troupe of the famous Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah.

A Civilized Cemetery

So great are the gifts of English civilization! Has it not given us backward Indians what we used to lack? Has it not told our shameless women how to show off their curves in ever yet newer ways? How to attract men with sleeveless blouses?

Miss Tinman

I was polishing my white shoes when my wife spoke up, “Zaidi’s here.” I gave my shoes to my wife, washed my hands and went into the next room where Zaidi was seated. I was shocked by his appearance.

Miss Mala

When the songwriter Azeem Gobindpuri was hired at ABC Productions, he immediately thought of his friend, the Music Director Bhatsave. Bhatsave was Marathi and had worked with Azeem on several films. Azeem knew how talented he was, and yet how can a man show off his skills when he’s working on stunt films?


This happened eight years ago to the day. My friend Bisheshar Nath’s wedding party was staying in the upscale marriage hall opposite Hindu Sabha College. There were around three hundred fifty guests who, after listening to the performances of famous prostitutes from Amritsar and Lahore, were sound asleep on the floor or in cots in the sprawling building’s many rooms.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2023

All Issues