Time and Eternity
EL 4 Time and Eternity
Venue: Savoy Hotel Sub Post Office
Saleem Kidwai in conversation with Ritu Menon
Chair: Dr. Fatima Rizvi
The talk was opened and moderated throughout by Dr. Fatima Rizvi, an Associate Professor
at University of Lucknow. Dr. Rizvi opened the talk with a brief introduction of Qurratulain
Hayder and her transcreated works. After the introduction, Dr. Rizvi directed the focus on the
publisher and translator of Safina-e-Gham-e-Dil (Ship of Sorrows), Saleem Kidwai and Ritu
Saleem Kidwai, the translator of the book said that Safina-e-Gham-e-Dil was ignored not
only by critics who studied her works but also to some extent by the writer herself. “It could
be called a forgotten copy” said Kidwai as it was very peculiar that this particular novel sat in
the middle in an undefined status for such a long time. He himself could not find a copy in
India when he wanted to work on it and had to get it from abroad. This further convinced him
that this was a novel that clearly needed attention. As he worked on the novel, he said that
Safina is treated as one where Hyder experimented with styles. He thinks that the novel was
far more challenging and difficult than translating Chandni Begum.
The conversation was engaging and Dr. Rizvi made the atmosphere light and interesting.
Ritu Menon, the publisher of the translated text was asked if she thinks this book is
Qurratulain Hyder’s lament for the past. Menon answered this question and stated that she
was strongly against the idea of ‘past’ and ‘nostalgia’ when it comes to Hyder’s works.
“Nostalgia had no part in her consideration of either time or space” said Menon. According to
her, Hyder’s works are concerned with circularity and not linear time as she does not relate
to the past anymore.
The recurring theme of ‘time’ in Hyder’s works was also brought into discussion. The
importance of history for Hyder was discussed by Kudwai who said that Hyder deals with
history as memory. This is why “she finds the metaphor of time in every part of human
existence” says Kudwai. “Her real character is time and history” said Menon and this was
agreed to by both Dr. Rizvi and Kudwadi. Hyder’s relationship to time is different and this
may be the reason her works are alive and relevant till today.
While both the publisher and the translator stressed time and again about how research
plays a big role in Hyder’s writing, their own in-depth research on Hyder became more and
more evident to the listeners of the discussion. Everyone had a lot to say about Hyder and
her works. In light of their critical opinions and arguments, the listeners are shown the
different ways in which one can read the same text.
Qurratulain Hayder is of the most appreciated writers and is widely known as the First Lady
of Urdu Literature. As a bilingual author, she has transcreated many works and has a very
interesting literary imagination and social imagination. The conversation on her works was
alive and intriguing, much like the words she wrote. Borrowing the words of Dr. Rizvi herself,
“The more one reads Hyder, the more one understands her.”
Lady Shri Ram College for Women