Qurratulain Hyder, fondly known as Annie Apa, seems to be so present in her different characters in the novel Chandni Begum that meeting them in the novel brings back fond memories of her. Particularly in this novel in its English avatar, that emanates the Lucknavi ambience she understood so well. My interactions with this genius of an author were always bilingual. Switching from one language to another was more or else a norm. When the conversation rotated around western literature or philosophy, English was inevitably the medium but talking about Indian literature or culture, specifically Urdu or Hindi, we veered towards Hindustani. And all in all, we spoke in the language of translation; while English clearly carried within its folds a strong Hindi-Urdu sensibility, our Hindustani reflected our familiarity with western cultural traditions.
October 2017, volume 41, No XLI