Quotes from ‘Bombay Stories’ by Saadat Hasan Manto

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Love. What a beautiful word! She wanted to smear it all over her body and massage it to her pores. She wanted to abandon herself to love. If love were a jar, she would press herself through its opening and close the lid above her. When she really wanted to make love, it didn’t matter which man it was. She would take any man, sit him on her lap, pat his head, and sing a lullaby to put him to sleep.

Bombay Stories by Manto FB cover

“I feel awkward telling you everything when we’ve just met. What do you think?”
His excitement, which had grown as he talked to me about my story, suddenly died.
“You’re exactly right,” he whispered. “And yet, how do you know this isn’t our last meeting?”

Love, whether in Multan or on Siberia’s icy Tundra, whether in the winter or the summer, whether among the rich or the poor, whether among the beautiful or the ugly, whether among the crude or the refined, love is always just love. There’s no difference. Just as babies are always born in one and only one way, love too, comes about in only one way […] Many babies are born prematurely and so are weak, and love, too, remains weak if it is rushed. Sometimes childbirth is very painful, and sometimes falling in love causes great pain. Just as a woman may miscarry, love can die before it has a chance to grow. Sometimes women are infertile and from time to time you’ll also find men incapable of loving. That isn’t to say they don’t want to love. No, not at all. They want to, but they don’t know how to.

‘Why do you like whorehouses and shrines?’ I asked.
He thought for a moment and then answered, ‘Because there, from top to bottom, it’s all about deception. What better place could there be for a person who wants to deceive himself?’

It occurred to me that people must have started wearing clothes all those millennia ago when they got tired of their nakedness, and similarly, people run to nakedness when they get tired of their clothes. Modesty and debauchery reach a balance, and debauchery has at least one virtue that it frees people from the boredom of routine.

I noticed tears in Chaddah’s eyes. They floated there like corpses on water.

I had seen Siraj once or twice. She was really skinny but beautiful, and her prominent eyes over-shadowed every other feature on her oval face. When I saw her for the first time on Clare road, I was puzzled. I wanted to tell her eyes, ‘Excuse me, please move aside a little so I can see Siraj.’ Needless to say, it didn’t happen.

One comment

  1. So visual and emotional.


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