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Scattered Pearls Among the Classes of Cloistered Ladies

1894
Cairo, Egypt (Original Language: Arabic)

Sharafiyya daughter of Sa’id the Captain

She was born in the year 1260 of the Hijra [CE 1844] and is still living.  This biographical subject has events to her name that testify to her fidelity and loyalty; she may be considered to have an odd and wondrous story.  I was told of her by one of the ladies who are trustworthy in what they report. …

Kaghazi Hai Pairahan

Ismat Chughtai
1994
Badayun, India (Original Language: Urdu)

EXTRACT ONE

I was weeping inconsolably.

 

Someone was being beaten brutally. The perpetrator was a giant-like

monster, while the one being beaten was a tiny, dark-skinned child.

I do not remember clearly the people involved as I was very small

at the time. But I remember that when the big cane struck it made

a horrific, slithering sound. The sound is embedded in my memory,

and I often still hear it.…

Sair-i Yurap

Nazli Begum of Janjira
1908
London, England (Original Language: Urdu)

Friday, 22 May 1908
Since we have to go to the royal meeting today all day we prepared for it. We arranged our things. Atiya has gone to buy some necessary items since morning. Her being with us has provided me much support. Without her I was not capable of travelling here. I cannot do anything here. She makes all the arrangements.…

Diary – Tehzib al-Nisvan

Nur un-Nisa’ Begum
1943
India (Original Language: Urdu)

Every human being has the right to write a diary. Neither fame nor anonymity can keep anyone deprived of this freedom. Events, incidents and disclosures comprise the definition of life. If the diary of Macaulay tells us that he spent every moment of his life in some constructive engagement, then the diary of a poor and wretched person impresses upon us that even the starving people riddled with swollen ribs and shrunken cheeks hail from the same descendents of Adam on whose distinction and excellence men take pride.…

Tazkirat al-Ahwal

٘Muhammad Ali ‘Hazin’ Lahiji
1742
Isfahan (Original Language: Persian)

[From Hazin’s days of study as a young man]

During those days [in Isfahan], of all the strange occurrences and events, there was the passion for a beauty [with such] manner of beautiful qualities, that my heart became maddened.

You showed me a trace of the beauty of the friend but / Should this world and the next collide I have no agitation or malevolence

A novel agitation befell the secluded palace of my mind and from my restless heart arose sedition and tumult.…

160 Kafis

Piro
Punjab (Original Language: Panjabi)

 

KAFIS 14-31

Turaks[1] (I)[2] left have come wheedling, they who stay aggrieved[3]

Scared they don’t come near (you), they roam about in discord

Piro (says) in guru’s court power of none will matter

What shall (I) say of others, even kings stutter

Petrified they (Turaks) come and cry before the guru

Wearing their scarves round their necks they stand with folded hands.…

Impressions of Europe

Begum In’am Habibullah
1930
Dorchester, England (Original Language: Urdu)

Dorchester is a town about 120 miles from London with a population of about ten thousand. The market is small, but everything one needs is readily available. The streets are paved. Small the market may be, but it is clean and the shops are organized the same way that English shops in Hindustan are.
The house that we rented is some distance from the commercial district of the city.…

Provisions for the Journey

Raheel Begum Shervania
1923
Kamran Island (Original Language: Urdu)

At Sea

It was necessary for me to take daily walks around the entire ship, for which reason I was privy to ever-new forms of spectacle. Seeing the way that my Indian brothers and sisters travel, I began to think that either these people were going to suffer greatly from the vast quantity of items they brought with them, or I was going to suffer greatly and regret deeply not having brought anything with me at all.…

A Travel Account of Iraq and the Hijaz

Begum Hasrat Mohani, Nishat al-Nisa
1936
Baghdad, Iraq (Original Language: Urdu)
The First Letter Hajj Camp, Karachi Saturday, February 1st, 1936 To my dearest Na’imah, may god preserve her from harm.[1] After reading this prayer, may you know that after taking leave from you on Wednesday we reached Delhi at nine the same evening. Our connecting train was ready and waiting; it was scheduled to leave from Delhi itself. All of our luggage and that of our companions was transferred onto the train. We left Delhi at eleven p.m. and arrived at Bathinda the following day. Here we had to change trains once more, at four. Thankfully, our carriage was detached from the first train and joined directly to the second. This spared us the arguments that would inevitably have come with getting the baggage shifted from one train to the other. We traveled through the night. Everyone was able to find a place to sleep. Then, in Samarstar,[2] we changed to another train on Thursday evening.