‘A novel that is unique for its time and relevant still, today.’—Tahira Naqvi, professor of Urdu, New York University, and translator of Ismat Chughtai’s works

The unnamed narrator in Azeem Baig Chughtai’s Vampire—written as a letter to God—is a 16-year-old girl who has just had her nikah ceremony. She dreams of a life of happiness with a loving, handsome husband—whose face, however, she will only see at her rukhsati, when she finally leaves her parents’ home for her marital home.

Then, tragedy befalls her. Separated from her family on the journey to her cousin’s wedding in a neighbouring town, she finds herself stranded at the railway station. She has no other recourse but to spend the night at the station master’s house, discovering too late that the only other occupant is his male guest. In the space of a night, her life is changed forever; she loses her ‘honour’ and faces the terrifying prospect of being shunned by her family, in-laws and friends.

In her letter to God, she pours out her grief and terror, her conflicting emotions of denial and acceptance of the events of that night, until she reaches a conclusion. The decision she makes when she finally comes face to face with her husband, leaves the reader both shocked and disturbed.

The brother and literary mentor of the legendary Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai, Azeem Baig was an iconoclast and a feminist who did not hesitate to break boundaries. Nowhere is this more evident than in Vampire. Long before terms like ‘rape syndrome’ and ‘secondary rape’ were coined, Chughtai dared to write about the unmentionable subject of rape in Muslim society—from the female victim’s perspective. What makes the novel unique and amazingly relevant is that this story, set in 1930s’ India, could well be happening in the twenty-first century.

Flawlessly translated by his grand-daughter, Zoovia Hamiduddin, this is the first of Azeem Baig Chughtai’s works to be translated into English.

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ImprintSpeaking Tiger


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