INTRODUCTION TO THE ONLINE EDITION
I worked on this translation in the early 1990's, using the typeset original edition (Lahore: Naqsh-e avval Kitab Ghar, n.d. ). The translation was first published in 1995 (New Delhi: Harper/Collins, 1995. xxiv, 287 p.), and had a second edition in 2001, which was unchanged except for the correction of a few typos and small errors.
In the *Translator's Introduction* from the printed version I describe the wonderful help I received from so many sources, especially two people: Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, and the author himself. Adil Mansuri's calligraphic designs for each chapter (the Urdu numbers from one to eleven, written out) were spectacular, as was his *cover drawing*, which showed the word "basti" written in the form of a paling or stockade such as might surround a dwelling place. All his designs were done with black magic marker; the cover design included three little circular stick-on labels of the kind you can buy in stationery stores (I think of them as indicating trees).
For this online edition, I've reread the whole thing carefully, and made almost no changes. Since the original Urdu text is full of abrupt breaks and transitions of various kinds, some marked and some not, I've had to make my own decisions about how strongly to mark different ones of them. I've tried to mark them a little more clearly than in the original, but not so excessively as to sacrifice the confusingness and initial ambiguity that the author obviously had in mind.
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