Paproudi (Punjab): Except for the Manto Yaadgari library, which too was set up only
last year and has only two to three books by him, legendary writer Saadat Hasan Manto's village Paproudi is no pilgrim spot for
As some people across the subcontinent get down to celebrating the
100th birth anniversary of the celebrated writer, born May 11,
1912 and described as way ahead of his time for his views on sex
and sexuality, his native village and its residents are almost
indifferent to the occasion.
Manto, known most for his edgy partition stories, was born in
Paproudi, near Samrala town in Punjab's industrial district of
Ludhiana, and lived in Amritsar and Bombay before settling down in
"The library gets about two to three visitors in a month," said
Lakhwinder Singh, a volunteer at the gurdwara where the one-room
library is located. The library has about 200 books but only two
to three books by Manto, that too the translated versions from the
"Not many people in the village, especially the youth, know of his
association with the village," Lakhwinder Singh pointed out.
Manto may be considered in the top echelons of the subcontinent's
literary world, thanks to his razor sharp stories on
pre-independence India and the partition era, but his native
Punjab and more so his village, Paproudi, seem to have let go of
Manto (1912-1955), popular for his short stories written between
1934 and 1955, may be celebrated elsewhere but Paproudi only seems
to have a symbolic link with him today.
Among the old timers, his associate Ujjagar Singh, himself in the
late 90s, gets reflective even though his own memory is beginning
"He used to stay mostly in Shimla with his father but used to come
here for summer holidays. He rarely mixed with other children in
the village and would keep to himself. But he was keen on
football," an almost incoherent Ujjagar Singh told IANS.
The village, old timers recall, came to know about his literary
skills only after he went to Bombay (now Mumbai) and became famous
through his writings. Acquaintances like Ujjagar Singh, who is
illiterate, never got to read Manto's works due to their
Manto's famous works include "Toba Tek Singh", "Thanda Gosht", "Khol
Do" and "Boo".
The writer, who studied in Amritsar before moving to Bombay, faced
cases at least six times on charges of obscenity. Three of these
cases were during British rule (before August 1947) and three
later. But he was never convicted for these.
The house in Paproudi village, which belonged to Manto's family,
was auctioned by the government in the 1950s, as he settled in
Lahore-Pakistan. It is now owned by one Ralla Singh.
Needless to say, the present owner and his farming family have
little knowledge of Manto's greatness.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)