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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

by Rajendra Yadav

“Tanāv” by Rajendra Yadav (b. 1929) is a highly experimental story, whose narration is at once third person and first person. Mrs. Sinha, an upper middle class wife, tells her own story but refers to herself in the third person. She is clearly mentally ill and her illness is a metaphor for the discomfort of the urban middle class in the years after the euphoria of Indian Independence had worn off. In her paranoid state, Mrs. Sinha imagines the ceiling fan falling and crushing her, believes the servants are plotting against her and perhaps fakes a fainting spell so that her workaholic husband will take notice of her. The story lives up to its name, “Tension,” by bouncing the reader between pity for the hapless Mrs. Sinha and finding her a rather despicable whiner.

-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.


p. 78

पेंच - m. screw
सेर - m. a measurement equivalent to one kilogram
धमाक् = धमाका - a loud noise or crash
पसली- f. rib
सीढी- f. stair, ladder
कुंडा- m. a type of fastening (i.e. something on a ceiling that a fan would be hooked up to)
अटकाना- to fasten
तरबतर- adj. soaked
तनना- to hold oneself erect, to be stiff
घूरना- to stare at
टिक्- a clicking sound (as the fan moves about)
वर्ना = वरना - 'or else' (this is just an alternate spelling)
बाल-बाल बचना- to escape by a hair
लापरवाह् - adj. careless

p. 79

रुलाई -- f. crying, tearfulness
होश -- m consciousness; mind (with न रहना -- to lose consciousness, to not be conscious)
फ़ैशन -- fashion
जूड़ा -- m. the hair coiled or tied up behind
बहाना -- m excuse, pretext
दुबारा -- adv. once more, a second time (also spelled दोबारा)
नहलाना - v.t. to caused to be bathed or washed
तबियत -- f. disposition, temperament, nature
सत्यानाश -- m. ruin, destruction
हथेली -- f. palm of the hand
पोंछना -- v.t. to wipe, dust; erase
चिल्लाना -- v.t. to cry out loudly, shout
नस -- f. vein, sinew, muscle, nerve
सुधरना -- v.i. to be set right, to be improved, corrected; to be repaired, reformed (the v.t. is सुधारना)
वजह -- f. cause, reason
गप्पी -- adj. fond of gossip; m. a gossip, idle talker (गप is pl. here and with the गप doubled -- लड़ाना means to gossip. The construction used here is the "iterative.")
चुराना -- v.t. to steal, captivate (though here he seems to be averting his eyes, and therefore appearing to his mistress to be guilty of something)
डकारना --v.i. to belch, bellow, roar; v.t. to gulp down, swallow
पड़ोस -- m. vicinity, neighborhood
"न बताती" is contrafactual, i.e. "if she had not told"
छुटका -- a little girl (diminutive from छोटा)
सोंधी -- the pleasant smell of roasting grains and nuts. Also the word that describes the earthy fragrance when it first starts to rain. (It comes from the adj.सोंधा, originally Sanskrit "सुगंधित" - fragrant.)
खुशबू -- f. fragrance
बादाम --m. technically means almond and also sometimes refers to peanuts
चिरोंजी -- f. the tree Buchanania latifolia, and its nut (it is a bit like a pine nut)
किशमिश -- f. raisin

p. 80

उखड़ना = 1) to be rooted up, torn up/off 2) to be eradicated 3) to become detached
पुराण =(adj.) old, ancient, primeval (noun, m.) a class of voluminous Sanskrit works that deal with aspects of Indian legends, history, theology, etc.; thus the idiom पुराण खोलना - to start up a long-standing or endless dispute (or any kind of lengthy account)
यों = 1) thus 2) well, in fact, actually
यों ही = 1) just in this way 2) casually, simply 3) curiously, b chance
पलटना = 1) to turn over, overturn 2) to be changed, transformed
नस (f.) = 1) vein 2) muscle 3) nerve (here something like "your every move")
चालाकी (f.) [Pers] = 1) activity, quickness 2) dexterity, skill 3) cunning, vigilance
x से चालाकी करना = to deceive x
बीड़ी (f.) = a twist of tobacco rolled in a leaf
वहम (f.) [Arabic] = a false idea, delusion, fantasy
झटकना = 1) to jerk,jolt, wrench, shake 2) to snatch, tear away from x (x से )
झटका (m.) = a jerk, spasm, tremor
भाषण (m.) = a speech, lecture, talk; speaking, utterance, speech
फ़ौरन [Arabic] = at once, immediately
तबीयत = तबियत (f.) [Arabic, Persian]- 1) temperament 2)mood 3)state of mind
घबराना = to be confused, flustered, perplexed
लेटना = to lie down, rest
डूबना = 1) to sink, set 2) to be immersed, flooded
बहाना - m. excuse
लार (m.) = saliva
टपकना = to drop, dribble
डालना = 1) to throw down, cast, throw 2) to pour (but here डालना is not being used in its primary sense here but rather as a compound suggesting force or impetuousness)
कराहना (vi.) = moan, groan
तकिया (m.) [Pers] = pillow, support

p. 81

पूछियो = ask in the imperative, though slightly irregular since it is a Punjabi form. Punjabi-isms are common enough in Delhi speech. As is "Hinglish," of which we see plenty of examples in this story.
ग्लूकोज़ = glucose
दिमाग = masc. mind
बेहद = limitless, extreme
झिक-झिक = f. whining, complaining
बदन = masc. "body"
आराम= masc. leisure, luxury, in this case physical comfort
वहम = masc. a whim, false idea, misconception
सरकना - to glide, crawl (in this case curling up)
दयनीय = pitiful
असहयता = f. helplessness
शिथिलता = relaxation, fatigue, flaccidity
उमड़ना = to bubble forth, overflow
खठर-खठर = onomotopeia, like the shoes' tip-tapping
खाक = masc. dirt, or anything of trivial or no value
कुढ़ना = to get angry, irritated (especially out of jealousy)

p. 82

लटकाना - to hang
मटकाना - to make flirtatious movements (note the intransitive form is मटकना)
मना करना - to refuse
हाव-भाव - m. pl. mannerisms
सैन - f. wink
फाँसना - to capture
भौंह - f. eyebrow
वहीं-से-वहीं - there itself
चलता कर देना - to send someone away
उलटा - reverse
भीतर - inside
झाँकना - to peep
खट्-से - with a knock (or slamming/banging sound)
संतोष - m. satisfaction
निढाल - adj. weak
नब्ज़ - f. pulse
सिरहाना - m. head of a bed
पारा - m. mercury
महीन - adj. fine, delicate, thin
पहचानना - to recognize
लकीर - f. line
अहुँक - a sound of exclamation
झटकना - to jerk
कलाई - f. wrist
साबुन - m. soap
खबर कर देना - to inform

p. 83

गहरा - adj. deep
साँस - f. breath
निन्यानबे = निन्यान्वे (ninety-nine) (NB that निन्यानवे and निन्यानबे are interchangeable. As a rule व and ब are often interchangeable.)
अविशवास- m. mistrust, disbelief, suspicion
शरीर- m. the body
भट्ठी- m. oven
हिलाना- v. to swing, shake
डुलाना- v. to cause to shake
भीतर - adv. inside
झल्लाना- v. to become enraged
उठवाना- v. to cause to be lifted
बग़ल - f./m. armpit
झटकारना- v. to twist, shake
चन्देरी - a special kind of cotton cloth originally made in Canderi, Bundelkhand
घुटना- v. to be rubbed, polished, ground
आशंका- f. fear, apprehension
साक्षात्- adv. before the eyes, in the presence of / adj. visible, present
भय- m. fear, misgivings
घोतना - v. to rub
कुचलना - v. to crush, pound
भनभनाना - v. to buzz, hum (as insects), to ring in ears
पसली - f. rib
पाना - v. to get, to obtain
तड़पना - v. to toss about, writhe
उबकाई- f. vomiting
मृत-रुप- m. dead-form
कनपटी- f. the temple (of the head), area between temple and ear
हाँपना - to pant
मिक्कू - the name of Mrs. Sinha's child
कल्याण- m. welfare, prosperity, good fortune

p. 84

इज़्ज़त - f. honour, esteem
अड़ोस - just part of a rhyming compound--it does not mean anything special
निगाह - f. look, glance, consideration, attention
ढंग - m. method, manner, style, type
बदौलत - by the favour of / by the good fortune of
लाड़ - f. affection, caress, playfulness
वर्ना - conj. and if not, otherwise, or else
फिकर - f. thought, reflection, care, concern, anxiety, grief
फँसना - to stick, to sink, to be caught
भाड़ - m. an oven for parching grain (part of an expression approximating the English "to hell with...")
गट्ठर - m. large bundle, parcel, bale
फोड़ना - to burst open, break, crack, split
फिरना - to turn, revolve, move around
फ़ुरसत - f. leisure, free time, opportunity
झपटना - to spring, pounce, swoop
सुजाना - to cause to swell
आहट - f. the sound of footsteps; light noise, sound
पलक - f. the eyelid; a moment - i.e. the blinking of an eye
मुँदना - to be closed
कराहना - to moan, to sigh
करवट - f. the position of lying or sleeping on one side
कन्धा - m. the shoulder
झकझोरना - to shake violently

p. 85

सलवट - f. a crease, wrinkle, furrow
अनचीन्हें - adv. unrecognizingly
हाँपना - (on page 83) to pant
ढुलकना - 1. To fall over or down; to slip, to slide; to drop, to drip. (In this context, the last def.)
घबराहट - f. confusion, embarrassment. 2. perplexity. 3. agitation, alarm (In this context, seems the last def.)
थरथराना - 1. to shake, to tremble, to quiver.
खिलखिलाना - to laugh aloud, burst out laughing
छकाना - to shock/frighten
सधी - is simply the f. past participle of सधना - to be practised
पुतली - f. the pupil of the eye
(नब्ज़ - f. pulse - from p. 82)
स्पर्श -m. contact
गुदगुदाना - to tickle (Here it is a noun, i.e. tickling)
नियंत्रण - control, repression
पट्टी - f. cuff (also strip of cloth or bandage but here it is the fabric that is put around your arm when your blood pressure is taken)
मँडराना - to hover about
कम्बख़्त -m a wretch
जाँच - f. examination, test
एकाध - some
कराहाना - see p. 84 - to moan - कराह - f. a moan, a groan
भनभनाहट - f. buzzing
लपकना - to spring forward, leap upon, rush towards

p. 86

असर - m. effect, impression
कराहना-to moan, groan, grieve or sigh (see pg. 84, 85)
( होश आना-m. to recover one's senses, good sense to return
बढ़ाना-to increase, extend, prolong or to exaggerate
स्वस्थ-adj. healthy, composed, of sound mind
मिचमिचाकर - (i.e. having opened her eyes a crack)
सिरहाने-m. adv. at the head of (a bed)
शीशियां-डिबियां - f.pl. small containers of medicine
पलगं-m. a bed
व्यर्थ - adj. useless, vain; pointless, senseless
थके-मांदे - tired (an echo compound)
तीमारदारी - f. attendence, nursing
बुलबुल - m. bubble
रोमांचकारी - रोमांच is when your hair stands on end/goose bumps
स्पर्श-m. touching, a touch
खच्च्- onomatopoetic for the sound of an injection going into the arm
भीचना-to clench (teeth)

pp. 87-88

धुंधला-धुंधला adj hazy, cloudy, blurry
कन्धा n.m. shoulder
उढ़ाना v. t. to cover
सन्नाटा n.m. stillness, dead quiet
पाटी n.f. side pieces of a bedstead
चौंकना v.t. to. be started, shudder, to be roused from sleep
पतलून n.m. trousers (from pantaloons)
रुंधना v.t. to enclose, to surround, to restrain
गड़बड़ाना (v.t.) to confuse to disturb; (v.i.) to get into a state of confusion or muddle
लायक़ adj Capable, discerning
ढुलकना v.i. To drop or drip; to roll down
हारी adj Plundering, destroying (but just part of an echoing compound. something like "loss and illness")
उबासी n.f. a yawn
जबड़े n.m. the jaw; the jaws
भींचना v. to hold tightly, to squeeze
इन्तज़ाम n.m. Arrangement
कृतज्ञ् - adj. grateful

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