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Nineteenth-century prose

Chandrakāntā by Devaki Nandan Khatri (selection from the novel) Urdu
Premsāgar by Lallulal (selection)
Literary criticism by Bhartendu Harishchandra, “Hindī bhāshā” and “Urdū kā syāpā”

Twentieth-century prose

“Sadgati” by Premchand
“Dudh kā dām” by Premchand Urdu
“Urdū, Hindī, aur Hindūstānī” by Premchand Urdu
“Malbe kā mālik” by Mohan Rakesh
“Tanāv” by Rajendra Yadav
“Dillī mẽ ek maut” by Kamleshwar
“Paccīs caukā deṛh sau” by Omprakash Valmiki
Apne-apne pinjare by Mohandas Naimishray Urdu
“Lājwantī” by Rajinder Singh Bedi Urdu


Two Braj Bhasha poets:
  • Kabir Urdu
  • Rahim Urdu
Selections from Braj works: The Chayavad movement, with
  • Selection from the critical essay “Kalpnā ke kānan kī rānī” in Chāyāvād by Namwar Singh
  • “Vishva chavi” by Sumitranand Pant
  • Nīrajā by Mahadevi Varma (selection)
Old Avadhi texts: selections from
  • the Rāmcaritmānas of Tulsīdās
  • the Madhumālatī of Manjhan

“Malbe kā Mālik”
by Mohan Rakesh

Mohan Rakesh (1925 - 1978) was one of the leading lights of the Nayī Kahānī (or “New Story”) movement in post-Independence Indian literature. Just as it has been said in Europe that “to write poetry after the Holocaust is barbaric,” Indian writers of the 1950s had to develop a new literary aesthetic to address the trauma of Partition. The narrowly focused, moralistic images of village life presented in Premchand's work were replaced by a more sweeping portrait of society that was willing to indict not just the powerful but every member of society because everyone collectively bore some guilt for Partition.

In “Malbe kā mālik,” or “The Owner of the Rubble,” an old man has come from Pakistan to find the place in an India where his late son had lived before Parition. The people of the village hide in their homes presumably because the old man is Muslim and a stranger. The reality is more complicated: they feel a collective guilt because the man's son was murdered before their eyes during Partition. Because of this they think that the old man will comes to blows with Rakkha Pehlwan, the local strongman and so-called “Owner of the Rubble.” (“Pehlwan” literally means wrestler, but here the sense is that Rakkha is a thug.) The story invites us to grapple with the question of whether the wounds caused by a traumatic event heal better when the event is put out of mind or when the horror is faced directly.

-Arthur Dudney

Stories by two other great writers of the Nayī Kahānī movement have been included on this site:

On this page

PDF availableThe Hindi text of the story is available as a PDF with pages corresponding to the page numbers below.

If the Hindi words below appear as boxes or nonsense, please see the introduction page for help.


Page 34

मलबा (m.) rubble
चाव (m.) wish or desire
टोली (f. dimin) a group or party
आग्रह (m.) zeal, enthusiasm
आकर्षण-केन्द्र center of attraction [since आकर्षण (m.) means attraction and केन्द means center]
तंग (adj.) narrow
मिसरी (f.) sugar candy
नुक्कड़ (f.) projection or point (Here the word means street corner)
भठियारिन (f.) innkeeper's wife
मण्डी (f.) - market
तुरेदार = Here the word apparently refers to some kind of ornamented turban (तुर्रा means "crest" or "plume" or turban ornament and तुरेदार means "crested.")
तुरकी - adj Muslim (lit Turk)
विभाजन (m.) division (partition)
अनिवार्य (adj) unavoidable or inevitable
वल्लाह (interj) by Allah
कटरा (m.) a small lane that is [generally] lined with shops
चौड़ा (adj.) wide
कब्जा करना (v) to seize or take possession of
उत्सुकता-पूर्वक (adv) eagerly [उत्सुकता (f.) eagerness & पूर्वक is a suffix that makes nouns into adverbs]
आशंकित (adj.) fearfully
बगलगीर (adj) grasping or embracing
आगन्तुक - "comer," i.e. visitor
रौनक (f.) brightness, radiance

Page 35

शाहालमीगेट = a neighbourhood in Lahore
कष्णनगर = a neighbourhood in Lahore
तबदीली = (fem.) change
बुर्का = (fem.) the fully covering dress worn by some Muslim women
आत्मीयता = f. noun intimacy
झलकना = (vi.) to glitter, sparkle
उत्सुक= (adj.) fervent (also eager, curious)
खाम्खाह = (adv.) without any reason, naturally, just like that
विभाजन = (mas.) a partition, divide
बांस = (mas.) another name of a neighbourhood in Lahore--one where bamboo was sold, hence the name
शहतीर, m. wooden beam
भयानक = (adj.) frightening, macabre
अंदेशा = (mas.) fear, worry
काबू = m. control, hold, grasp
इमारत = f. building
चहल्-पहल = (f.) hustle and bustle
बाशिन्दे = (mas) residents
शहीद = (mas.) a martyr
भुलभुलैया = f. maze
चीखना = to scream
धीमा = (adj.) quiet, muffled
घुटना = (mas) knee
पैबंद = (mas) path
पुचकारना = making kissing sounds
ढूँढ़ना = to search for

Page 36

ओंठ – (m.) lip
बिसोरना - to press the lips together/pout
बरस – (m.) year [from Sanskritic वर्ष]
दौड़ना – (vi.) to run, hasten
बाँह – (f.) the upper arm
घसीटना – (v.t.) to drag, drag along; haul
छुड़ाना – (v.t.) to cause to be freed [causative form of छोड़ना]
मचलना – (v.i.) to be stubborn
चिपकाना – (v.t.) to stick; cause to adhere [v.i. is चिपकना )
चूमना – (v.t.) to kiss
वारना – (v.t.) apparently meaning “to offer in sacrifice” (it's part of a stock phrase, "I swear it")
बुड्ढा = बूढ़ा - elderly man
खुजलाना – (v.t.) to scratch [an itchy place]
बग़ल में– (adv) to one side (literally: under his arm)
दबना – (v.i.) to be pressed down
ख़ुश्क – (adj.) dry [Urdu]
घुटना – (m.) knee
तख़्ता – (m.) board, plank [Urdu]
सहारा – (m.) support
शहतीर – (m.) heavy beam [Urdu]
तिमंज़िला – (adj.) three-storey [ti- (three), Urdu]
चील – (f.) kite (the predatory bird)
जड़ – (adj.) lifeless, inert (The same word can also be a m. noun.)
खम्बा = खम्भा – (m.) pillar, pole
पल – (m.) an instant, moment
नवयुवक = नौजवान
गुच्छा – (m.) cluster, bunch
घुमाना – (v.t.) to cause to revolve
मियाँ – (m.) term of respect for Muslims, i.e. Sir [Urdu]
छाती – (f.) chest; [figuratively] heart, emotions
हल्का = हलका – (adj.) light in weight; pale [NB not हलक़ा – (m.) circle]
हिलाना – (v.t.) to shake; swing
मुट्ठी – see “Sadgati” p 113
आश्चर्य – (m.) wonder, astonishment, surprise
तक़सीम – (f.) dividing; partition [Urdu]
छः = छह
सूरत – (f.) face; appearance [Urdu]

Page 37

स्वर - m. sound, noise
संवेदना - f. sympathy
बदबख़ती - f. bad luck
अहसास - m. perception, realization, a feeling
बहना - v.t. to flow
मियाँ - m. term of affectionate or respectful address
बीती - f. past events or experiences (but here बीती is simply an adjectival particple from बीतना)
बाँह - f. the upper arm
फैलना - v.i. to spread
घसीट - from the verb घसीटना. The कर has been dropped from घसीटकर, which is quite a common technique in this story.
पीढ़ा - m. a stool, seat
पुकारना - v.t. to call out, to shout
फेरिवाला - m. hawker
पीपल - m. holy fig tree
पहलवान - m. a wrestler, athlete (here referring to the character "Rakkha Pahlvan")
बिखरना - v.i. - to be scattered; to be dispersed
किवाड़ - m. leaf of a door, door
अलबत्ता - adv. 1. however 2. certainly, undoubtedly (also: "albeit")
झाँकना - vi. to peep, spy
ठिठकना - v.i. to stop suddenly, to stand still
अर्सा m. a period of time
झुनझुनाना - v.i. to ring, to resound; v.t. to cause to ring (झुनझुनी f. means tingling/numbness, perhaps in this context more like a feeling of being stunned)
खुश्क - adj. dry
घुटना - m. the knee, region of the knee
काँपना - v.i. to tremble, quiver
सहारा - m. support
छड़ी - f, stick, cane, rod
ईटें - f.pl. bricks
चौखट - f. door-frame, threshold
कालिख - m. blackness 2. soot 3. a black mark
तह - f. a layer
उभरना - v.i. to rise, to swell, to fill, to be developed

Page 38

बाक़ी -- adj. remaining, enduring
घुटना -- m. the knee
बिलखना - v.t. to behold, perceive; v.i. to vanish (another meaning of this same verb, which clearly makes more sense in this context is to sob)
किवाड़ - m. door, leaf of a door
भुरभुरा - crumbly, powdery (note that this word is part of a verb construction here)
रेशा - m. fibre, filament; vein; fig. nerve
झड़ना - v.i. to fall down, out, or off
बिखरना - v.i. to be scattered, dispersed, dishevelled, wasted
केंचुआ - m an earthworm
नाली - f. a blood vessel; stalk (esp. of lotus); drain, gutter (drain or gutter in this context)
पटरी - f. strip of wood or metal; pavement; path; edge, border
सरसराना - v.i. to make a rustling sound; to glide, crawl along, creep
सूराख - m. hole, opening
पटकना - v.t. to dash down (on), knock down; flail
निराश - f. lack of hope, despair; disappointment; adj. without hope, despairing; disappointed (here it is an adj.)
खिड़की - f. a window, a shutter
झांकना - v.t. to peep, spy
चेहमेगोई - f. warbling, whispering, murmuring
कुछ-न-कुछ - something or other, somewhat, a little
घटना - f. incident
बादशाह -m. a sovereign, king, emperor; fig. one skilled (in, का)
दबदबा - m. dominant position
ड्योढी - f. threshhold, porch; entrance, door
कालर - collar
छाती - f. breast, chest
छुरा - m. knife
चिल्लाना - v.t. to cry out loudly, shout, scream;
हताश - adj. hopeless' (since हत- means 'deprived of, having lost' (lit. struck down), so therefore lit: "one whose hope has been struck down")
चीख़ना - v.i. to scream, shriek; to howl
शागिर्द - m. pupil, disciple, apprentice
जद्दो-जेहद - According to a large Hindi dictionary, this means "effort" or "movement," but that does not seem adequate here. In Persian zidd is opposing and zahd is forcing. In the context Rakkha Pahlwan's underling is pinning poor Chiraag down with force so that Rakkha can stab him.
जांघ - f. the thigh
दबाना - v.t. to press down, crush, restrain, subdue, oppress
भैण - Seems to be a slightly Punjabi-ized version of "बहन," f. sister. (The ellipsis means he was going to say something nasty like "sister-f**ker.")
दृश्य - (from Sanskrit)- m. something visible, a sight, scene, view; adj. (lit. 'to be seen') visible, evident, worthy of being seen
साक्षी - m. witness adj. observing, witnessing
उत्तरदायित्व - m. responsibility (using the Sanskrit abstract noun ending "-tva" here for the "-ity")
साथी - m. companion, associate, ally, accomplice, attendant
विदा - (बिदा) f. permission to leave; departure
विदा करना - to dismiss, despatch,
तवील - adj. long, protracted (We are to infer that all the women were raped.)

Page 39

लाश - f. a corpse
नहर - f. stream, flow, canal
छानबीन - f. close search, examination
पहलवान - m. wrestler, athlete
क़सम - f. an oath
निश्चय - m. verification, proof; decision, resolve
शुद्ध - pure, sinless
हवन - m. sacrificial fire
सामग्री - f. stock, implements (also ingredients)
गाड़ना - to drive, embed, bury
नौबत - f. period, time, occasion
मलबा - m. rubble, rubbish
जागीर - f. an estate
खोंचना - to scratch, tear (but खोंचा is m. noun here. It's a pole that bird catchers use.)
अनुमति - f. permission, approval
घटना - to decrease, lessen
मिट्टी - f. earth, dust
नाखून - m. nail, horn of a hoof, talon
खोदना - to dig, excavate, investigate
चौखट - f. door-frame, threshold
बाँह - f. the upper arm, sleeve
सुलताना - f. queen, empress (here a proper name)
भुरभुरा - crumbly, powdery
किवाड़ - m. door, leaf of a door
रेशा - m. fibre, filament
झड़ना - to fall down, be shed, poured
जगना and जागना - to wake up, be awake
झाग - f. foam, froth; scum
खाँसी - f. a cough
थूकना - to spit
छाती - f. breast, chest
धौंकनी - f. bellows; panting
स्वर - m. sound, noise
निचला - adj. lower (as in lower lip)
औंठ - m. the lip
फैलना - to spread, stretch out
शागिर्द - m. pupil, disciple
घहराना - to thunder
रहस्यमय - adj. secretive
संकेत - m. sign, gesture
टाँग - f. the leg, lower leg
नंगा - naked
जाँघ - f. the thigh
फेरना - to turn, twist, move around
रहस्य - m. or adj. secret
शामत - f. misfortune, disaster

Page 40

पत्ती- f. leaf
बिखरना- v. to scatter
मसलना- v. to crush, pulverize
कश- m. drawing of breath while smoking
खींचना- m. to pull, drag (smoke)
खाँसना- v. to cough
क्षण- m. a moment
चेहरा- m. face, features, likeness
टिकना- v. to stop, to stay, to remain
क़दम- m. a pace, step
गरदन- m. the neck, throat
घहराना- v. to thunder, bellow
चमक- f. sparkle, glitter
झुररी- f. wrinkle, fold, pucker
निचला- adj. lower
ओंठ- m. the lip
छाती- f. (fig.) heart
भारी- adj. heavy, large
स्वर- m. voice
प्रतिक्रिया- f. reaction, repercussion
चेहमेगोइयाँ- f. pl. whisperings
तेज़- sharp (blade), piercing (glance), keen (sight), loud (voice)
आमना-सामना- m. confrontation, adv. facing
गाली- f. swear, abusive language
गाली-गलौज़ - mutual abuse
वो- alt. form of वह (plural here)
मलकियत - f. property
मरदूद- adj. rejected, a censurable person
खूँटा- m. post, peg, stump, pile
डरपोक- adj. frightened, cowardly (also a m. noun)
साँड- m. bull, specifically a wandering bull

Page 41

सिल - f. ledge
बसना - vi. to settle, establish
निशानी - f. mark
छलछलाना - to brim
टाँग- f. leg
समेटना - to gather
अँगोछा - m. towel
मुँडेर - f. parapet
कन्धा - m. shoulder
मुहब्बत - f. love
छिपना - to hide
अस्वाभाविक - unnatural
गुँज - f. echo
गाढ़ा - thick (This word also means dark when referring to colours, etc.)
लार - f. saliva
चिपकना - to stick
माथा - m. forehead
दबाव - m. pressure
रीढ़ की हड्डी - vertebra
स्वर - m. tone
नस - f. nerve (also vein)
तनाव - m. tension
बगल - f./m. armpit
पोंछना - to wipe
झाग - m. foam
खींछना - to pull
थूकना - to spit
खतरा - m. danger
कबूतर - m. pigeon, dove
रखवाली - f. supervision
भरोसा - m. trust
बिगाड़ना - to spoil
चेष्टा - f. attempt

Page 42

लक्षित - noticed
इर्द-गिर्द - used with के, this is a pretty common postpositional phrase meaning 'surrounding'
दायरा, m. circle
गहरा - adj. dense, dark, deep
रक्खना = रखना
हल्का/हलका करना- to lighten (as a burden); to ease; to disgrace (in another's esteem) or to lower (one) (Probably we should take the न here as marking a suggestion. "Why don't you lighten up/why don't you stop dwelling on this," etc.)
खुदा- m. the supreme being, God (but only in Islamic contexts)
नेक- adj. good, virtuous
नेकी- f. goodness, virtue; kindness, proper treatment of another
बद- adj. bad; wicked
बदी -f. evil, mischief; transf. defamation, slander
तसल्ली - f. consolation, comfort
सेहतमन्द - adj. healthy
स्वीकृति - f. acceptance
चेहमेगोइयां - f.pl. whisperings
तालू - m. the palate
तिस - (like jis, kis) obl. base of the dem. pronoun सा. that, he, she, it (this is a remnant from Braj)
खुश्क - adj. dry, parched (खुश्क होना - fig. to be terrified)
जुबैदा - proper name (namely Chiraag's wife)
मन्दा - m. wicked, base (many other definitions... stupid, or low, deep may also apply to the context x-बोल)
मरदूद - adj. rejected, a censurable person
घाट - m. stairs by the riverbank leading down to the water. In this context, it refers to the parable of the washerman's dog, who was useless use because: न घर का न घाट का (he was neither of home nor of the washerman's workplace). In a more positive interpretation, this means that one is a jack of all trades.
लिहाज़ - m. attention, notice, account; consideration, deference; sense of shame; respect (viewpoint)
स्त्री - f. a woman
गुत्थम-गुत्था - m. this means brawl, struggle
खंखारना - to clear the throat, to spit or cough up mucus
फ़ुकना - to set fire to (i.e. taking drags from the chillum)
सट्टा - m. a market (here it seems to mean some kind of price speculation scheme or racket, perhaps more evidence of Rakkha Pahlwan's underworld activity)
सेहत-f. health
नुस्खा - m. a prescription
वैष्णो देवी - a famous Hindu pilgrimage spot in Northern India
विवरण-m. account
विदा (f.) करना- to say goodbye (to, को)

Page 43

[unless otherwise noted all words are of Sanskritic/Hindi origin]
भैस (f.) - female buffalo (c.f. भैसा (m.) - male buffalo)
मुताबिक = 1) corresponding, appropriate 2) similar [Arabic]
X के मुताबिक = in accordance with X, in conjunction with X
आदत (f.) = 1) custom, tradition 2) habit [Arabic]
धक्का (m.) = 1) a blow, hit 2) an accident, an unfortunate occurance
हटाना = 1) to shift, move away 2) to get rid of 3) to fire (from a job)
from हटना = to leave, step back, step down, withdraw
सुस्ताना - to relax, rest [Persian सुस्त - weak, apathetic; slow;
indolent, slothful, lethargic + Hindi adj suffix -आना ]
चौखट (f.) = 1) wooden frame 2) doorway
सुनसान = 1) empty, people-less 2) abandoned
बत्ती (f.) = 1) candle 2) light, lamp
नाली (f.) = 1) pipe 2) water canal
हल्का = हलका - 1) light (in terms of weight) 2) weak
as in color 4) light, easy
ख़ामोशी (f.) = 1) silence 2) state of calm [<Pers.
ख़ामोश = silent, calm + -ई ]
मिट्टी (f.) = 1) land, earth 2) dust, ash 3) dirt
भटकना = to wander
कौवा (m.) = 1) a crow 2) a sneaky, clever person
रेशा (m.) = fiber, filament
छितराना = to be scattered, spread out
लेटना = to lie down, to go to bed
गुर्रा (m.) [dot under the ग ] = 1) first day of the lunar month 2) a
day off 3) a break from work 4) putting-off, procrastination [Arabic]
भौंकना = भूंकना - 1) to bark 2) to chatter
सहमना - to be afraid of something (से) [<Pers. सहम = fear]
फड़फड़ाना = to make a light noise, like a rustle; to flutter (like wings)
पीपल (m.) = [Botany] Ficus religiousa, a kind of fruit/plant
ढेला (m.) = a piece, morsel
ज्ञटकना = to brush off, throw off

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This site last updated by Justin Ben-Hain on 5 November 2013.