Beyond the Fog

Qurratulain Hyder, translated from Urdu by Muhammad Umar Memon

Read time: a minute

This is a story filled with twists and turns. If it wasn’t a skillfully written short story this might as well have passed as a Bollywood movie script.

The story is about Katy or Catherine. She is born to Katto, a sweeper (read: lower caste Hindu), after she had a passions affair with a drummer in the British Army in India. The love they bore for each other was real but the army man did not know whether he could stay in touch after the war. So when Catherine was born looking like an English child her mother handed her over to her mistress of Richmond’s- owner of an upper class hotel for Europeans only. Since the mistress was English herself, she took the new born in her custody and no one knew of its true parentage.

It was after the men in the town started making pass at the teenage Catherine that Mrs Richmond decided to move to Australia and start a new life there. The child should be among the whites.

After Catherine loses her guardian he is adopted by the priest but loses him soon after. It is after a marriage to a young man after accepting Islam and calling herself Halima that she realises that she needs a proper job and some savings. Marriages are sham. After another marriage, with a Hindu this time, she has finally the opportunity to meet her father. The same father she had longed to see before.

She finally makes a choice but what would it be? Will she chose the princedom or her parents?

This story is a loop of thread, entangled at places. But it is a beautiful one. I have enjoyed each and every story out of this collection and this one is no different.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH