The Back Room

Intizar Husain, translated from Urdu by Muhammad Umar Memon, Co-translated by Caroline J. Beeson

Read time: a minute

I am slowly finishing reading the collection ‘The Greatest Urdu Stories Ever Told’. It feels great reading the stories but somehow I do not want the book to end!

The Back Room is a story about a woman who doesn’t have the youth in her anymore. Her hair is brittle and patchy. Her entire demeanour is lustreless. This may look like the fruit of old age but there is a story that she is hiding in her house.

There is a Back Room in the House she lives in. She used to frequent the house often with her playmate Battu when she was little. The Back Room was dusty and dark. Her mother would forbid her to go anywhere near it. As a child she would have to be kept away from the room by telling stories. But now she hardly went there anymore.

The threshold of the back room appeared to her to be a boundary to a dark land.

She recollects the childhood Battu and she spent together. Battu was a very close friend she had who went to fight in the front line in the army and never returned.

There are some painful memories in the darkroom that come across like black snake intoxicating her.

The end to the story is quite interesting. It is left for reader’s imagination. It could be literal and poetic.

This story is definitely one of the bests in the collection.

Join us in discovering new stories each day. Share stories that you would want us to read! Actually, read along with us!

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH