Note on This Translation
All translations from Hindi and Urdu are by me unless otherwise indicated.
As with any translation, there were numerous difficulties in conveying
nuances. Problems arose especially with regard to Sanskritic, Perso-
Urdu, and regional language terms for sexual preferences, such as ba-
tukprem, laundebaazi, paatalpanthi, and with idiomatic turns of phrase,
particularly those that involve puns and wordplay, such as Ugra’s use of
his own pen name and that of the journal Matvala as adjectives within
the text. In general, I resolve these problems by translating the term or
phrase and then providing further explanation in a footnote that ap-
pears on the same page as the text.
I translate idioms literally when I judge that such translation ade-
quately conveys meaning, for example, the sense of murdey par talwar
chalana does come across in the literal translation, “fighting a corpse
with a sword.” In other cases, I provide an approximation in English,
such as sanaki as “crazy” or “eccentric,” and subsequently explain in a
Where the resonance of a Hindi term is already widely prevalent
in an Indian English term I use the Indian English term, such as “bad
character” or “characterless” (dushcharitra, charitrahin) for a person
perceived as sexually immoral. The stories are liberally sprinkled with
quotes from Urdu, Brajbhasha, Awadhi, and Sanskrit, many of which
are in verse, and two novel titles are themselves quotes from verse.
Where literal translation does not convey the metaphorical meaning of