Review: One Drop of Blood: The Story of Karbala by Ismat Chughtai
Ek Qatra-e-Khoon (One Drop of Blood) is controversial Urdu author Ismat Chughtai’s final novel. Chughtai’s retelling of the legendary Battle of Karbala, fought in 680 AD, is a large departure from her trademark physique of labor, which is secular, feminist and rebellious.
Chughtai turned infamous along with her brief story Lihaaf (The Quilt) on a younger begum’s sexual escapades along with her home assist and was tried for obscenity. Later in life, she “cursed the celebrity she had achieved” with it.
The topic of her final novel is the timeless story of the oppressor and the oppressed – the heartbreaking story of Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) grandson Imam Hussain’s martyrdom, as additionally of his 72 companions comprising his household and associates, by the second Ummayad Caliph Yazid I. Written in 1972, when she was 61 years previous, the guide attracts from the marsiyas or elegies of Mir Anis, one of many biggest marsiya writers of the nineteenth century Ollimag.com reported.
Nevertheless, Chughtai was saddened by the response of publishers. There have been no takers for a spiritual novel. They needed her to write down a sensational novel and had been keen to provide an advance. The guide was lastly revealed in 1976 by Fan aur Fankar, a 12 months after the imposition of Emergency by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Chughtai’s many-layered work is as a lot a fictionalised narrative of the excesses perpetrated by the founding father of the Ummayad dynasty, Amir Mu’awiya, and his son Yazid on the descendants of the Prophet as it’s a political allegory. Chughtai instructed her interviewers again then that this 1,400-year-old story can also be a recent one. Nevertheless, her critics dismissed it as having no bearing on up to date Indian society.
In his introduction, Bilal Hashmi compares the marble of Yazid’s palaces to Teen Murti Bhawan, the Nehru household’s residence, and Amir Mu’awiya’s set up of Yazid as inheritor obvious to Indira Gandhi’s inheritor obvious Sanjay Gandhi.
He writes, “Why, as an illustration, does Ismat describe the punishment meted out to Yazid’s adversaries as an ilaj – a reference, maybe, to the dreaded, pressured sterilisations inflicted upon the city poor throughout the darkish interval (Emergency)?”
Each Hashmi and Chughtai’s translator Tahira Naqvi state that Ek Qatra-e-Khoon is much extra advanced than had been beforehand believed. Naqvi had been toying with the daunting activity of translating it since 1984 – “every time passing it over for another guide” of Chughtai’s. Her translation is invaluable as she manages to seize the essence of the unique work.
The writer paints to perfection the historic context when Imam Hussain was born to Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) beloved daughter Hazrat Bibi Fatima and his favorite relative and companion Hazrat Ali. Imam Hussain was their second youngster and so they knew he was particular. “He’s actually blessed. In the future, he would be the helper and chief of the world. Folks will bear in mind his nice deeds till the top of time,” the Prophet introduced at his beginning.
Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Bibi Fatima’s is a close-knit household and the Prophet dotes on his grandchildren – Hasan, Hussain and their little sister Zainab. The little incidents detailed within the guide are heart-warming. The Prophet’s grandchildren sitting on his again as he prostrated in namaaz or on one event, the Prophet hiding them inside his cloak. When Hazrat Bibi Fatima seems to be at them longingly, the Prophet takes her and Hazrat Ali, too, right into a grand embrace underneath the cloak.
Their good occasions don’t final. The Prophet passes away and inside a 12 months Hazrat Bibi Fatima too dies. Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain’s idyllic childhood and the sense of safety that got here from being the bravest man’s sons is crushed when their father is assassinated. Nonetheless younger boys, they uphold their household’s legacy efficiently until Imam Hasan can also be killed.
Imam Hussain decides to lie low for the sake of his household and associates, whilst he makes it clear that he wouldn’t endorse Amir Mu’awiya’s philandering son Yazid as the subsequent Caliph. It’s essential for Mu’awiya to take Imam Hussain on his facet as he’s the Prophet’s direct descendant, with an enormous following. The Prophet has been useless solely 5 a long time and his legacy is contemporary in everybody’s reminiscence.
A confrontation is averted for years until Mu’awiya is previous and is determined to put in his favorite son. Following the sudden demise of Mu’awiya, Imam Hussain is pressured to depart Medina together with his household and companions. He decides to relocate to Kufa, from the place he has been receiving a number of invites. Nevertheless, on the best way to Kufa, Yazid’s forces ruthlessly decimate Imam Hussain’s household and associates, who combat with numerous coronary heart, on the barren plains of Karbala.
The youngest martyr is Imam Hussain’s toddler son Ali Asghar. An arrow is shot into his little neck by the enemy. Imam Hussain is the final to fall. Their sister Hazrat Bibi Zainab retains her promise to her brother and rises to the event, ensuring his blood doesn’t movement in useless. Regardless that simply days earlier than, once they arrived in Karbala, she was damaged and in a daze: “Oh God, is that this a river or a mirage? Are these bubbles or human skulls floating within the water? Are these waves or swords clashing with one another? I can not bear to look.”
Naqvi reminds the reader that Chughtai might have shocked her publishers with this “spiritual” work, and that too on the finish of a grand writing profession. However isn’t this how she all the time was? Mocking the world along with her perspective? she asks.
“…right here’s Ismat, the insurgent, doing her favorite factor: rebelling. She rebels in opposition to the notion of not writing a ‘novel’ about Karbala… Chughtai’s determination to write down this novel, due to this fact, is definitely as sudden as it’s predictable.”
In keeping with Naqvi, Chughtai made the change after writing brief tales and novels depicting the movie world. “Little by little, I grew bored with all such themes. When there was nothing left to write down, I started to learn the marsiyas of Anis – in 5 volumes.”
In one other interview she stated she was deeply moved by the killing of Ali Asghar, an incident that had a deep influence on her since childhood. Chughtai was not a Shia Muslim. Subsequently, her retelling of this story is much more important. Her nuanced work is a political allegory, a marsiya – an elegy – for our occasions too. Voices of dissent proceed to be snuffed as in Yazid’s time.
However then there’s hope. To cite Chughtai’s sensible phrases: “In the present day too, when a Yazid raises his head in some a part of the world, Husain steps ahead and crushes him – even right this moment, gentle wins in opposition to darkness.”