Through the characters of people like Topi and Iffan, the novel looks at the lives of ordinary people trying to survive in a society that insists on brutal conformity of behavior. Language plays an important part in this narrative, operating almost as a character in its own right. Topi, as a Hindi bull in the Urdu china shop, invokes the historical stand-off between the two languages. The novel also explores the culture and psyche of Uttar Pradesh with its very Muslim Aligarh, its very Hindu Benares, and their exotic confluence in Lucknow. Although it is set in the India of the s, the communal tensions and issues portrayed in novel make it just as relevant to the troubled times we face today.

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Adding decibel to the noise and chaos to this pandemonium! Tuesday, September 22, Topi Shukla I read this brilliant book sometime back about months back. Might have read another books after it but have been profoundly affected by it.

I wanted to write about it just after reading it. But got distracted by the wedding etc : And today, I was talking to a friend of mine who is from Lucknow. He was there and I could not ignore him. Iffan was also there of course. How can one be without the other? It is not possible to think of just the one of them. They are like the yin and the yang.

Not really, they are more like two shades that go really well with each other. So much that you forget for a few seconds that other shades exist. And it is ok, because you are not missing the other shades really. Topi Shukla, is a hindi-urdu-khichdi novella from the s. Though the context is post-partition India but the flavor is universal.

It tells the story of people wherever they might be. It tells the story of those who have loved in vain. It tells the story of innocence and realism. It tells your story and it tells mine. It does all that a good book is supposed to do.

I read the Khichdi version. Two reasons for doing so. I could just borrow the hindi version from a friend who is coincidentally named topi as well and throw return it if I did not like it. The other one being that I knew the language and there was no reason to read it in a foreign language.

I would strongly urge you to pick up the hindi version if you can understand not just read the language. Set in Aligarh, it is the story of two friends and the people around them. Raza deftly tells the tale of people who become hapless victims of history. The small ways in which partition affects conversations, silence, love, hate, friendship, daily actions, language, food and everything that might and might not matter have been superlatively captured.

It did not want the book to end. In a long long time, this was a book that made me fear for its end. May be because the characters felt so close… may be because the characters felt so real… You can read a sample of the book at Google Books You can buy it at Rajkamal Prakashan.

You can also buy the book at Rediff. Both Hindi and English editions available. But you cannot get the hindi version there.


‘जब कोई कहेगा कि हिंदू मुसलमानों को चैन से नहीं रहने देंगे तब इन्हें यह रेल यात्रा याद आएगी’

The novel is in Hindi and its title is Topi Shukla. Its a Rajkamal publication in paperbacks. Although the novel contains only pages,Rahi Masoom Raza,the eminent novelist has dealt in it with a very delicate issue of Indianness. I mean whether he bought it or it was presented to him as a gift.


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