NOTES


life == Here and throughout the story, Ghisu is made to pronounce many Persianized words poorly, to show his rustic dialect and/or lack of education. For "life," instead of zindagaanii he says jindagaanii ; for "faithlessness," instead of be-vafaa))ii he says be-vaphaa))ii . Madhav makes the same kind of mistakes. The narrative voice in the story never makes such mistakes. These mistakes are carefully reproduced in the Urdu-script versions of the story; in the Devanagari ones, for various reasons they are harder to reproduce and convey accurately.


Chamars == An untouchable caste group, the chamaar are often considered to be leather-workers. The North Indian caste divisions in Premchand's time are discussed at some length by the *Imperial Gazetteer*.


ascetics == Both versions mix Islamic and Hindu religious vocabulary in varying ways and to varying degrees. Here, "ascetics" = saadhuu (U), saadhu (D); "exercises in self-discipline to achieve contentment and patience" = qanaa((at aur tavakkul ke li))e .zab:t-e nafs (U); santo:sh aur dhairya ke liye sa;Nyam aur niyam (D).



pious == Both versions delight in presenting the characters' behavior in fancy religious terms. Here, "pious" = zaahidaanah (U), aakaash-v:ritti (D); "respectful" = sa((aadatmand (U), supuut (D).



stomachs == The idiom is a powerful one, and untranslatable. Literally, she kept filling the 'hells' of both of those ones devoid of honor/shame. The idea of course is that an empty stomach causes suffering like the torments of hell. The words are the same in both versions: in dono;N be-;Gairato;N kaa doza;x bhartii rahtii thii (U,D).



ghost-witch == The appearance of a chu;Rail (U,D) is, in South Asian folk tradition, a dangerous possibility when a woman dies prematurely and in a state of strong, unsatisfied desire. A woman who dies in childbirth would be very likely to become a hostile ghost who would linger in such a guise, lurk in certain trees, and leap out to attack passersby at night. The best thing to do then would be to hire an exorcist, or ojhaa (U,D).



tricksters == The group that Ghisu joins is shaa:tiro;N kii fitnah-pardaaz jamaa((at (U), bai;Thakbaajo;N kii kutsit ma;N;Dalii (D).



puris == This feast consists of: puu;Riyaa;N , ghii , cha;Tnii , raa))itah , tiin :tara;h ke suukhe saag , ek rasedaar tarkaarii , dahii , cha;Tnii , mi;Thaa))ii  ; also mentioned are kacho;Riyaa;N and paan (U). The puris receive special notice, and will also be emphasized at the end of the story.



Ghisua == As a nickname, ghisuvaa (U), ghisu'aa (D) here sounds sarcastic and contemptuous rather than friendly.



poles == These "bamboo poles and such," baa;Ns-vaa;Ns (U,D), will be used to make the stretcher on which the body will be carried to the cremation ground.



sers == "Two sers," ser (U,D), would be about four pounds, which sounds like a remarkable amount of puris. But then, they did eat to the bursting point, and still had some left over.



Heaven == Before saying this little prayer, Madhav "bowed his head in pious confirmation": farq-e ((aqiidat jhukaakar ta.sdiiq kii (U), shraddhaa se sir jhukaakar tasdiiq kii (D). "Heaven" is baiku;N;Th (U,D), the special heaven of Lord Vishnu.



sindur == The bridegroom's putting red ochre in the parting of a bride's hair is an important part of some Hindu wedding ceremonies.



'an ass with a glass' == The idiom is chulluu me;N ulluu (U), which literally means 'in the palm of a hand, an owl'. An owl is an emblem of stupidity in North India, and the reference is to people who become intoxicated quickly, with a mere swallow of wine-- as much as could be held in the hollow of one's palm. In the Devanagari-script version, it's ek chulluu me;N mast ho jaate hai;N .



half-alive == The Urdu-script version has the evocative zindah dar-gor , literally "alive in the tomb." The Devanagari version has "neither alive nor dead," na jiite hai;N na marte hai;N . These passive drinkers were literally seized and dragged to the wine-house by "the disaster of life": ziist kii balaa yahaa;N khe;Nch laatii thii (U), jiivan kii baadhaa'e;N yahaa;N khii;Nch laatii thii (D).



temptress == The word is really, in both versions, ;Thaginii , or female ;Thag (the source of the English word "thug"). Thus the addressee is evoked as a kind of quasi-religious murderous bandit who would allure and reassure a traveler, then suddenly strangle him. On ;Thagii : *the BBC*.



 

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