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A Pilgrimage to the House of God and a Journey to the Land of the Beloved

Fatima Begum
Mecca, Arabia (Original Language: Urdu)

The original Urdu text corresponding to both the excerpts below and those available in the related published volume are available above.


Life Aboard Ship

Gulf of Aden, 14 March 1934: At about 10 o’clock, when I returned to my compartment from my tour of the ship, I found that there was a commotion among the ship’s passengers. It seemed that a big mail ship was passing nearby.…


Nazr Sajjad Haidar
Dehradun, India (Original Language: Urdu)


26 May 1912: Today was the most important day of life. When I woke up in the morning to offer my prayers, I saw a different atmosphere in the house. My elder female relatives were busy in arrangements for hosting someone. Everyone in the house including its younger as well as elder members along with the servants seemed extremely happy.…

Kaghazi Hai Pairahan

Ismat Chughtai
Badayun, India (Original Language: Urdu)


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
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
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.…

Impressions of Europe

Begum In’am Habibullah
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
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
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.