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The Short Form

“Beyond the Fog”

Qurratulain Hyder

Excerpt

Throughout the day English sahibs, memsahibs, and their baba log cross the bridge on mules and horses or riding in rickshaws and dandis. In the evening, the same bridge becomes the site of milling crowds of Indians. The swarm of rushing humanity going up and down the slopes huffing and puffing looks like the surge of a massive tidal wave. Movies starring Esther Williams, Joan Fontaine, Nur Jahan, and Khursheed are playing in the local cinemas. Skating continues in the rinks. In the ballroom of the Savoy the Anglo-Indian crooner and his band will soon start “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.” Drums will be struck; maharaja and maharani log, nabob log, bara sahib and bara mem log will start dancing.

At this hour, while the whole of Mussourie is absorbed in merrymaking, a poor man stands quietly on this bridge near the bazaar—“Kabira stands in the bazaar praying for everyone’s well-being.”

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