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Poetic justice

The Bollywood formula gets a refreshing perspective in a conservative Muslim meets liberal Muslim milieu in Shaukat Kaifi’s autobiography.

books Updated: Feb 20, 2010 02:41 IST
Ritu Pandey

Title: Kaifi and I: A Memoir
Author: Edited and translated by Nasreen Rehman
Publisher: Zubaan
Price: Rs 295

Rich girl meets poor boy, marries him and they live happily ever after. The Bollywood formula gets a refreshing perspective in a conservative Muslim meets liberal Muslim milieu in Shaukat Kaifi’s autobiography, Yaad Ki Rahguzar, now translated by Nasreen Rehman. The book traces Shaukat’s upbringing in a wealthy Hyderabadi family to her struggle after she married Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi; their love for each other that kept the marriage going in extreme adversities.

The book is a valuable text on the progressive Urdu poetry and lives of ‘card-holding’ CPI members in the pre-independence era. Written in the Afsana tradition of Urdu literature, it makes for a captivating read. How we wish the original Urdu couplets had been retained. How often do we get to read the first lines Kaifi Azmi wrote to his wife, afterall!