The Vultures of the Parsi Cemetery

Ali Imam Naqvi translated from Urdu by Muhammad Umar Memon

Read time: about 2 minutes

Wow! This particular story completely blew my mind away!

‘The vultures of the Parsi Cemetery’ is from a collection of stories called The Greatest Urdu Stories Ever Told. The stories are translated by Muhammad Umar Memon.

The story has an interesting beginning where all the vultures suddenly stopped visiting the Parsi cemetery one particular day. It says,

It was all so unexpected. They were stunned. They put the stretcher down abruptly, gawked at the dead body, then looked at each other with a million questions stirring in their eyes. Their eyeballs moved dumbly in their sockets for quite some time, and when they stopped, the two shrugged their shoulders uncomprehendingly. Then, simultaneously, they grimaced, severely straining their necks and letting their gaze hover over the dense trees of the Parsi cemetery. Not a single vulture!

Cover: The Vultures of the Parsi Cemetery

Homroz and Bhatina were having a regular day at the Parsi cemetery. The dead were coming in and the rituals were performed after which they were left at the cemetery for the vultures. But that day the dead bodies were accumulating but there were no vultures.

The entire story fits between them realising the scarcity of vultures and finding out the reason why they were not coming to their cemetery.

The street is littered with corpses. One right on top of the other. Piled high. Our vultures - well, they’re having a feast there. And that police commissioner… he said that after the street’s been cleaned up, the vultures will come back on their own accord.

The story is a social commentary on the deaths for foolish hatred caused in India. A resigned voice says:

‘Even if the street’s cleaned up, so what? What makes you think the vultures will return? This fucking India… there is a riot every day here, every day a fire, every day people die. The vultures’ll come back? The hell they will!’

I absolutely loved the simple writing and judicious utilisation of words. The story also talks extensively about the death rituals. It is the story for all those who love diverse writing.

This collection of short stories is turning out to be great so far! Read about the previous story that we read from the book.

Just look. Look at the life of a Parsi.



What about it?

His youth runs super fast but his old age merely crawls along like a freight train.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH