SHORT STORY Lihaaf [The Quilt] O Ismat Chughtai Translated from Urdu by M. Asaduddin In the last issue of manushi, while reviewing Deepa Mehta’s Fire, we. Read this article to know about Lihaaf The Quilt summary by Ismat Chughtai. Lihaf is an Urdu short story that made Ismat Chughtai popular for its controversies . Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf challenged the conventional feminine qualities of obedience, abstinence and modesty in a patriarchal society and.

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The first time Ismah read LihaafI was expecting to be struck by the progressiveness of its mere existence in terms of talking about homosexuality and female desire in the s.

But what followed was confusion and questions. Yet, I feel that we as readers forgot to understand an essential element in this story.

It was one of the few stories that revolve around complex female characters with desires and sexual needs, who hold agency over their actions and unabashedly practice their sexuality. Being subjected to this loneliness, she finds solace in the company of her masseuse, Rabbu.

Decoding the ‘feminist’ in Ismat Chughtai’s most (in)famous short story, Lihaaf

Her cheeks became rosy; beauty, as it were, glowed from every pore! The story was denounced and celebrated for the same reason of setting a discourse around homosexuality and providing an alternate perspective that deviated from patriarchal expectations.


As the story progressed, I grew increasingly uncomfortable by the narrative chugytai a nine-year-old girl who witnesses the sexual encounters and is then used or rather abused by Begum Jaan to satiate her desire in the absence of Rabbu.

Here are some excerpts of her encounter with Begum Jaan that seem like an ambiguous representation of child sexual abuse by recollecting it trivially: She began counting my ribs. I lihqf to protest. How tight this sweater is! I wanted to run away, but she held me tightly.

Ismat chughtai’s lihaaf

I tried to wriggle out and Begum Jaan began to laugh loudly. To this day, whenever I am reminded of her face at that moment. A strange fright overwhelmed me. She was pressing me as though I were a clay doll and the odour of her warm body made me almost throw up. But was like one possessed. I could neither scream nor cry.

Lihaaf Summary | Ismat Chughtai | English Summary

After some time she stopped and lay back exhausted. She was breathing heavily and her face looked pale and dull.

I thought she was going to lihfa and rushed out of the room…. The clear breach of the personal boundary, the promise of gifts, the confusion and lihat experienced by the child, all of these meet the signs of child sexual abuse. That I was afraid of Begum Jan?


Begum Jan, who loved me so dearly? This would not only increase our understanding of the story better but also warn readers from trivializing the details of child sexual abuse. The purpose of this piece is not to question the progressive nature hcughtai Lihaafbut to provide an alternate perspective on the story by shifting attention from the salient theme of homosexuality.

Thank you for your analysis; as a queer desi woman, I was surprised hearing the initial buzz around the story, and got really uncomfortable and disappointed completing it.

Full text of “Lihaaf [ The Quilt] Ismat Chughtai”

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