by Chandni Shah
You may know Padma Sachdev as India’s first modern Dogri poet. She’s also a close friend of Ismat Chugtai. The video, if you haven’t watched it already, is one where she tells stories of Ismat Chugtai. Now you know Chugtai was one of India’s finest writers. Writing in Urdu on topics like female sexuality, middle-class gentility and class conflict, she has been much celebrated. But listening to Padma Sachdev, made me feel like I really know-know Ismat in the way only her lucky lucky besties did. Today, on the 107th Birth Anniversary of Ismat Chugtai, I now know what a wicked and truly brilliant existence she led.
One of the funniest moments in this video (in an old interview with Tehelka) was when Padma Sachdev talks of inviting Ismat to her house. Ismat is said to have looked at her husband and said nothing. Then she looked at Padma and asked whose flat it was. When Padma said it was her husband’s, Ismat approvingly said that if he came with the flat, then he couldn’t be all that bad.
Another was when a Sahib decided to hit on Ismat in the market. Watch, listen and roll about laughing like I did.