Analyse the use of the child narrator in Chughtai’s ‘Lihaf’(The Quilt).


Lihaaf is an Urdu word. It means “Quilt”. The story “Lihaaf” is written by Ismat Chughtai,published in 1942. When “Bharatbarsa” is ruled by British Governor and “Bharatbasi” areruled by stereotypical notions, superstition and false ego of the society.As like freedom fighters some writers picked up their pen to reveal the truth of the society.Ismat Chughtai is one of them who is charged for using obscene word in literature.The story “Lihaaf” is analysised in various perspectives like homosexuality, Lesbianism, Upper-class morality, False Social Status and Marriage. Here a new perspective “Child Psyche” wouldbe analysised so let’s move further.KEYWORDS: Child Psyche, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Domestic Abuse, Child Innocence.INTRODUCTION :-

The story is narrated by a girl. She shares her past experiences that is terrifying. Child psyche islike a new little bud where colours of imagination take birth innocently in every moment.In the story, “The Quilt” took the shape of terrifying elephant that disturbed narrator. At thevery beginning she said, “Sorry I’m not going to regale you with any romantic tale about myown quilt. It is hardly a subject for romances. It seems to me that the blanket through lesscomfortable, does not cast shadows as terrifying as the quilt, dancing on the wall.”

It is seemed as the narrator was suffered in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder(PSTD).PSTD is ananxiety disorder that a person may develop after experiencing or witnessing an extreme,overwhelming traumatic event during which they fell intense fear, helplessness or horror.There are many causes of PTSD. Causes: Childhood neglect, Childhood physical abuse, Sexualmolestation and domestic abuse.Sign and Symptoms: Flash backs, Intrusive thoughts. (And so on)In the story, narrator was left with adopted sister, Begam Jaan, whose quilt was etched innarrator’s memory like the scar left by blacksmith’s brand. Then narrator was a small girl andfought all day with her brothers therefore when her Amma went to Agra, she left her withBegam Jaan, who was in love with narrator and she too, was fond of her. The arrangement ofAmma, pleased both Begam Jaan and narrator but whole day narrator had to spent her timeseeing the massaging. Rabbu who was a maid always engaged herself in massaging to BegamJaan.“Rabbu had no other household duties; perched on the couch she was always massaging somepart of her body. At times I could hardly bear it …Even Rabbu would massage Begam’s bodywith a variety of oils and pastes for two hours and she would massage with such vigour thateven imagining it made me sick.” There are many problems those creates disturbances to thenarrator. On the first day first question was arised that where she would sleep. A small bedwas placed alongside to Begam Jaan. Till ten or eleven at night they chatt and played ‘chance’,then she went to bed, till then Rabbu was rubbing her back, she fell asleep, later narratorwake up at night and was scared seeing Begam Jaan’s quilt that was pitch dark and shakingvigorously like an elephant was struggling inside.She tried to recite the Ayatul Kursi, then she asked to sleep besides to Begam Jaan but shedenied. Then finally narrator drew her quilt over her face and fell asleep.Narrator said that “By morning I had totally forgotten the terrifying scene enacted at night, Ihave always been superstitious night fears; sleep- walking and sleep- talking were dailyoccurrences in my childhood. Everyone used to say that I was possessed by evil spirit. So theincident slipped from my memory. The quilt looked perfectly innocent in the morning.”Following night she heard the crying at Rabbu then came slurping sound of a cat like licking aplate, she was scared and got back to sleep. Not only in one night, she was scared gradually byelephant. “There was a peculiar noise again in the dark Begam Jaan’s quilt was once againswaying like an elephant,” Allah! Ah…” I moaned in a feeble voice. The elephant inside thequilt heaved up and then sat down, I was mute. The elephant started to sway again. I wasscared stiff.”

These traumatic activities impact up on the girl’s (narrator’s) mind. Suffocating situationhaunted her so in the story she said, “I wanted to run away, but she held me tightly. I tried towriggle out and Begam Jaan began to laugh loudly. To this day whenever I am reminded of herface of that moment I felt jittery.”These fearful facts are not enough; she was the victim of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse isphysical or psychological abuse towards a member of one’s own house hold. One day narratorrubbed Begam Jaan’s back and she expressed her satisfaction with sensuous breaths, “Here …a little bellow the shoulder… that’s right…Ah! What pleasure…” Then once Begam Jaancommented, “Hey girl watch

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