My Self Must I Speak: the Essentializing Self in Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf

Santi Leksakun

Abstract


This article reads Lihaaf, a controversial short story of the subaltern women who are doubly foreclosed by the traditional and modernity discourses by Ismat Chughtai. Begum Jaan, the main character, is trapped in the midst of the war between customary belief and individual freedom. Desperately voiceless, she thus speaks through her body and sexual relationship with a lower caste maidservant under the quilt, as to formulate her essential self as a human with desire. It is suggested, that the maidservant whose function in the story is to render indeterminate the boundary between human and animal, helps her master to re-establish her new identity, when the two oppressed bodies have finally combined and revealed. 


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