chauthii kaa jo;Raa
The 'Fourth-day' outfit
by Ismat Chughtai [((i.smat chu;Gtaa))ii]

an extremely literal translation by FWP

I follow Naim's text and paragraphing throughout. Here is *Naim's text on DSAL*; I have provided links to my own, much more readable scans of this same text ("N1"); here's *a pdf of the whole Naim text*. There are also links to the pages of his notes ("notes 1"), in the quite readable DSAL version. And here's *a calligraphed version* of the text.

You'll also find links to a Devanagari version ("D1") of the text from ((i.smat chu;Gtaa))ii : pratinidhi kahaaniyaa;N (New Delhi: Rajkamal Prakashan, 1988, pp. 47-61). Here's *a pdf of the whole Devanagari version*.

Tahira Naqvi's translation ("The Wedding Shroud," from The Quilt and Other Stories, trans by Tahira Naqvi and Syeda S. Hameed; New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1990, pp. 91-109) and Safiya Siddiqui's translation ("Chauthi ka Jaura," from The Inner Courtyard: Stories by Indian Women, ed. by Lakshmi Holmstrom; Calcutta: Rupa & Co., 1971, pp. 75-88) have both been helpful.



*Naim's notes on DSAL*

= = = = = = = = = = =      
1) [*N1*] [*D1*] On the [*notes 1*] wooden platform [chauka] in the sihdari, again today a fresh, clean linen floor-cloth had been spread. Through the chinks in the old, broken roof-tiles, irregular slivers of sunlight spread through the whole dalan. The neighborhood women sat silent and almost trembling, as if some great event was about to happen. The mothers held their babies to their breasts. From time to time some difficult, fretful baby would announce a shortage of nourishment with a sudden cry.    

= a sihdaarii is, literally, a 'three-doored' room.

= a daalaan is an outer hall or antechamber.

2) [*D2*] "Now, now, sweetheart." The thin, puny mother would lay the baby across her knees and shake him as if she were winnowing the hulls from rice in the sun. And then, with a mumble of resignation, he would fall silent.      
3) Today, how many hope-filled eyes were staring at Kubra's Mother's thoughtful face! Two narrow breadths of twill had been joined together, but as yet no one had found the courage to mark out the pattern on the coarse white cloth. In matters of cutting and trimming, Kubra's Mother held a very high rank. No telling how many trousseaus her dry hands had decorated, how many "sixth-day presents" she had prepared, and how many shrouds she had measured out. Wherever in the neighborhood the cloth turned out to be too small, and even after a hundred tries the pattern wouldn't "sit" properly, [*notes 2*] the case would be brought to Kubra's Mother. Kubra's Mother would straighten the edges, rub away the starch, sometimes shape a triangle, sometimes make a square-- and tracing in her mind the path of the scissors, measuring out the lines with her eyes, she would suddenly smile.    

= byo;Ntnaa : 'To cut out or to shape clothes; to measure for, or to fit, clothes'. Platts p. 212.

= On "sixth-day presents" see Naim's note.

4) "The sleeves and the front and back will come out of this; for the collar, take a cutting from my box." And the problem was solved. Having cut out the fabric pieces, she would make a make a neat bundle of cuttings and hand them over. [*N2*] But today the fragment of white cloth was extremely small. And everybody believed that, 'today the measuring skills of Kubra's Mother will be defeated'; thus they all, holding their breath, were watching her face. On the confident face of Kubra's Mother there was no sign of worry: with her glances she was measuring the fragment. The reflection of the red twill was blazing on her dark, swarthy face like a sunrise. Those sad, sad, deep wrinkle-lines were suddenly lit up like dark clouds, the way in thick jungle fire bursts out, and she smiled and picked up the scissors.    

= Notice the traditional Urdu preference for direct over indirect discourse in quoting thoughts.

= Her face is niilguu;N zard , "blue-green yellow-pallid." I can't imagine what that really means.

5) From the group of neighborhood women a long sigh of relief emerged. Even the babies in their laps were put down onto the floor. The young unmarried girls with glances like birds of prey instantly threaded their needles, the newly married brides put on their thimbles. Kubra's Mother's scissors had begun to move.      
6) In the farthest corner of the outer hall, on a light cot, Hamidah, feet dangling, chin on her palm, was thinking some faraway thoughts.      
7) Having finished the afternoon meal, in this way [*notes 3*] Bi Amma goes and sits on the wooden platform in the outer hall; and opening the box, she always spreads a net of many-colored fabrics. [*D3*] Seated beside the mortar, scrubbing the dishes, Kubra looks at the red fabrics in such a way that a red wave surges up in her dirty-yellowish complexion. When with her soft, light hands she [=Kubra's Mother] opens out the net of silver sequins and spreads it on her knees, her withered face suddenly glows with an extraordinary longing-filled light. The reflection of the sequins on her deep, box-like wrinkles begins to glow like tiny torches. With every stitch the gold-work quivers, and the torches flicker.     = Her wrinkles are .sanduuqo;N jaise . It doesn't seem very apt.
8) There's no remembering when her [fine muslin] "dewdrops" dupattah was made, and was hung there ready-- and was sunk into the depths of the large, coffin-like wooden box. The nets of sequins faded. The rays of the gold-and-silver work became dim. The very long thread-work pieces became sad, but Kubra's wedding procession didn't come. When [*N3*] one outfit would become old, then it would be called a "later-visit outfit" and given away for free, and then with a new outfit there would be an opening-out of new hopes. After much searching, a new piece of satin would be selected. On the wooden platform in the outer hall a fresh, clean linen floor-cloth would be spread. The neighborhood women, paan-daans in hand and babies under their arms, with their anklets jingling, would arrive.     = On the "later-visit outfit" see Naim's note
9) "The piece for the underwear can be gotten, but there isn't enough fabric for the bachi."      
10) "Come on now-- just think about it, sister! Will we have to have chuls of that wretched twill?" And then again all their faces became anxious. Kubra's Mother, silently, like an alchemist, measured the length and width with the tape of her eyes, and the [*notes 4 *] women began to whisper among themselves about underwear, and burst out laughing. In the meantime, somebody began to sing a man-chali, somebody a suhag or a banna, somebody especially bold began to recite insults to an imaginary set of in-laws. Shameless dirty jokes and pleasantries began. On such occasions the young unmarried girls were ordered to sit under the tiled roof, far from the sihdari, with their heads covered. And when some new burst of laughter came from the sihdari, then these poor things sighed helplessly: oh God, when would these bursts of laughter be vouchsafed to themselves?     = What they sing seem to be kinds of traditional wedding songs.
*on to part 2*      
  _ _  

~~ Ismat Chughtai index page ~~ Platts Dictionary ~~ Glossary ~~ FWP's main page ~~