Read Our Favourite Indian Stories Online

Authors: Khushwant Singh

Our Favourite Indian Stories















Published by Jaico Publishing House

A-2 Jash Chambers, 7-A Sir Phirozshah Mehta Road

Fort, Mumbai - 400 001

[email protected]


© Khushwant Singh & Neelam Kumar



ISBN 81-7224-978-0


First Jaico Impression: 2002

Eleventh Jaico Impression: 2012


No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in

any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any
information storage and retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the publishers.



Foreword — by Kamala Suraiya

The Story Behind the Stories — by Neelam Kumar



1.  The Resignation — Premchand

2.  Enlightenment — Yashpal

3.  Under Cover of Darkness — Nirmal Verma

4.  Like A Pigeon — Rajendra Awasthi

5.  Breaking Point — Usha Mahajan



6.  Cabulliwallah — Rabindranath Tagore

7.  Draupadi — Mahasweta Devi



8.  Exchange of Lunatics — Saadat Hasan Manto

9.  Housewife — Ismat Chugtai



10.  Happy New Year — Ajeet Cour

11.  Death of Shaikh Burhanuddin— Khwaja Ahmed Abbas



12.  The Bed of Arrows — Gopinath Mohanty

13.  Death of an Indian — Kishori Charan Das



14.  Wings of a Silent Wish — Dinkar Joshi

15.  Red Glow of the New Moon— Kundanika Kapadia 



16.  Cannibal — Vijai Dan Detha



17.  The Statement — Gobind Panjabi

18.  The Claim — Narain Bharati



19.  The Wan Moon — Gangadhar Gadgil

20.  The Debt — Gauri Deshpande



21.  The Vulture — Manoj Kumar Goswami



22.  The Bride's Pyjamas — Akhtar Mohi-ud-din

23.  The Enemy — A. G. Athar



24.  The Flight — Kamala Das

25.  The Flood — Thakazhi Sivasankaran Pillai



26.  Kwate (The Fort) — Chaduranga

27.  Amasa — Devanoor Mahadev



28.  On the Boat — P. Padmaraju

29.  Cloud Stealing — Malati Chandur



30.  The Journey — Indira Parthasarathy

31.  Brahma-Vriksha — Prapanchan



32. The Farm — Chaman Arora

33. The Dislodged Brick — Om Goswami



34. Hippie Girl — Chandrakant Keni

35. A Cup of Hot Coffee — Edwin J.F. D'Souza



36. The Portrait of a Lady — Khushwant Singh

37. Birth — Mulk Raj Anand

38. Cows and Love — Atul Chandra

39. Road to Tikratoli — Shoy Lall

40. A New Tomorrow — Neelam Kumar



An anthology of this range and sweep could not have taken shape without help from various sources. We are grateful to:

Sahitya Akademi, Delhi
for the following stories:
The Bed of Arrows
— by Gopinath Mohanty (Oriya);
Death of an Indian
— by Kishori Charan Das (Oriya);
by Yashpal (Hindi);
— by Vijai Dan Detha (Rajasthani);
The Wan Moon
— by Gangadhar Gadgil (Marathi);
The Vulture
— by Manoj Kumar Goswami (Assamese);
The Bride's Pyjamas
— by Akhtar Mohi-ud-din (Kashmiri);
— by Ismat Chugtai (Urdu);
The Farm
— by Chaman Arora (Dogri);
The Dislodged Brick
— by Om Goswami (Dogri);
On the Boat
— by P. Padmaraju (Telugu).

  • Visva-Bharati University
    by Rabindra Nath Tagore
  • Ms Kamala Suraiya
    for the Foreword
  • Mr R. K. Gharai of Sahitya Akademi, Kolkata
    for his exemplary help which brought this project to fruition.
  • Ms Neerja Mattoo
    for the Kashmiri stories
  • All India Urdu Progressive Writers' Association
    by Ismat Chugtai.
  • Individual authors
    and translators
  • Friends,
    who made this literary dream possible.


About three years ago the New
Yorker commissioned Salman
Rushdie to write a special piece on
Indian Literature. It was a foolish
gesture. It was like requesting one of
the tourists thronging the beaches of
India to write on Harappan civilization.
The result was calamitous. He
obviously was not familiar with any
Indian language other than English
and knew even less of the literature
each produced. A literary analyst
must know the sensibilities from
which emanated the peerless fiction
and poetry read and loved by the natives of the country through
the centuries

Indian fiction has robust roots. Myth and reality, like the warp
and woof together, construct the rich tapestry of our literature. In
translation each story suffers a colour change. A sea change,
infact. A reconstructive mode of translation is required but the
authors, in distrust, seldom permit anyone to take liberties with
their writings for effecting minor alterations or tidying up the
phrases, however shoddy or tardy the originals appear in a word
to word translation. Poets are effective translators if given the
freedom to delete the clumsy passages but they would rather
write their own verses than translate. Perhaps the Sahitya
Akademi of Delhi can try to lure them into the translation arena
by offering liberal grants.

In my formative years I had the good fortune to live in Calcutta
which was definitely the axis of the cultural world. Bankim, Sarat Babu and Tagore influenced us, the young hopefuls. The Bengali touch, like old lace enriched the silk of our writings. Then there was the mammoth shadow of Kalidas falling on each of us, Kalidas whose classic Shakuntala cast a spell on Goethe whose Faust employed the narrator and the chorus before the beginning of the play.

Yes, it is with pride that I write today of Indian literatures that do not seem to wilt despite being ignored by the pundits of Anglo India.

Kamala Suraiya

August 12, 2001

The Story Behind the Stories

This anthology is a virtual canvas of human emotions. Its pages throb with everything primal to human nature: fear, angst, joy, love, lust and longing. It is my conviction that the map of India — from Kashmir to Kanyakumari lies stamped across the length and breadth of the Indian heart. The emotions that vibrate within each of these stories prove this point. Within the pages of this anthology, the reader may catch a flickering gleam of that intangible quality which has surpassed the boundaries of region, time, space and history. The reader may also catch a fleeting glimpse of some of the majestic highs and dramatic lows that have shaped the Indian character over the centuries.

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