For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“A Woman's Life”

Saadat Hasan Manto


She pulled down the fourth picture, a man in a turban, and then, as Madhu watched apprehensively, his own, throwing them together through the window. They heard them fall on the street, the glass breaking. Madhu somehow managed to say, “Well done! I didn't like that one of mine either.”

Saugandhi moved, slowly towards him. “You didn't like that one, yeah? Well, let me ask you, is there anything about you which you should like? This bulb of a nose of yours! This small, hairy forehead! Your swollen nostrils! Your twisted ears! And that awful breath! Your filthy, unwashed body! This oil that you coat yourself with! So you didn't like your picture, eh?”

Madhu was flinching away from her, his back against the wall. He tried to put some authority into his voice. “Look, Saugandhi, it seems to me you have gone back to that dirty old profession of yours. I am telling you for the last time...”

Saugandhi mimicked him, “If you return to that dirty old profession of yours, that'll be the end. And if I find out that another man has been in your bed, I'll drag you out by your hair and throw you out on the street. As for your monthly expenses, a money order will be on its way as soon as I return to Poona. And what is the monthly rent of this kholi of yours?”

We read it in Toba Tek Singh.