Naiyer Masud’s ‘The Myna from Peacock Garden’ is a poignant tale of a father’s love for his daughter. It takes place in Avadh in the times of Sultan Wajid Ali Shah of Avadh, just before it fell into the hands of the British.
Kale Khan is a poor man who works in the Royal Peacock Garden. His wife died when his daughter, Falak Ara was barely eleven months. Khan loves his daughter to distraction. Falak Ara would often pester him to buy her a hill myna but Khan does not have the money to buy it for her. When his duty at the palace changes to caring for the 40 hill mynas that are to be presented to the Badshah, Khan falls prey to temptation.
In a weak moment, Khan takes the hill myna, named Falak Ara or the ‘Ornament of the Sky’, home for his daughter. Little Falak is thrilled with the bird but Khan has no peace of mind. His heart misses a beat once when the Badshah, who knows every bird by its name, not seeing Falak Ara around, asks for her.
On the pretext that the bird’s ill, Khan takes it back to its cage in Peacock Garden. All’s well until one day, the talking birds are made to perform. The bird, Falak Ara, stuns everyone with her song:
Falak Ara’s a princess sweet!
Milk and jalebis is what she eats!
She’s the fair, fair daughter
Of the Black, Black Khan!
On hearing this, Khan faints. What happens then? Does he get punished? Read the book to find out!
The author Naiyer Masud is among the foremost contemporary Urdu short story writers of our country. Some of his famous works include Seemiya, Itr-e-Kafoor and Taus Chaman ki Maina. He’s the recipient of the 1997 Presidential Certificate of Honour in 1997, given to him for his outstanding contribution to Persian literature. He has also won the Katha Award for Creative Fiction twice.
The story was translated into English by Sagaree Sengupta, a doctorate in Asian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. A writer, translator, poet and scholar, her simple, lucid style makes the book a delight to read. The book, well illustrated by Premola Ghose, is published by Katha, a nonprofit organization.
Name: The Myna from Peacock Garden
Author: Naiyer Masud
Art by Premola Ghose
Book Price: Rs. 95/-