Chughad is the only collection of Manto's stories to be published from Bombay—an assemblage of short fiction, interspersed with autobiographical traces from time spent in the bustling colonial metropolis, particularly its filmworld. The volume thus takes on some of the qualities of a postlude and invites us to retrace the author's scattered "footprints" (naqsh-e qadam) in the city. Such an excercise will lead us back to a local Urdu public sphere whose history remains largely unwritten. The early dissemination of Urdu books in Bombay was taken up by such presses as Fath al-Karim, Haidari, Muhammadi, and Safdari in the nineteenth century and then by Karimi, Mustafai and Sultani in the early decades of the twentieth. While the greater number of these publications appear to be translations of and commentaries on Arabic and Persian texts, one does come across editions of Ghalib, the novels of Sharar, and the occasional religious or political tract. By the 1940s, however, modern Urdu literature could count among its steadfast patrons in Bombay the Taj Office on Mohamed Ali Road and—with the lifting of the ban on the Communist Party of India in July 1942—the People's Publishing House on Sandhurst. Urdu periodicals in circulation at this time included Khatun, Naya Adab, Shair, Subh-e Umid, Tanvir, and the journals Musavvir and Samaj, both of which Manto edited during his spells in Bombay.
The mainstream appeal of Urdu letters was further bolstered by the Progressive Writers' Association, many of whose cadres had relocated to Bombay in the early '40s, lending their talents to the film industry and All-India Radio, not to mention various publishing and journalistic ventures. The unexpected yet resounding success of a Ghalib Day celebration from this period figures prominently in Progressive accounts. In an article published in People's War, Sibte Hasan, the event's organizer, writes of the "incoming stream of famous poets, Editors of newspapers, Principals of Colleges, Congressmen, Muslim Leaguers, Film Directors and artists, writers and students," all of whom gathered in the "overpacked" hall of St. Xavier's School on 12 March, 1944. This "unique function in the cultural life of Bombay," he notes, "began with a homage to Ghalib by the working-class children from Madanpura," who sang the poet's verse "with vigour and zest, and, when at the end the troupe shouted 'Lal Salaam' with the clenched fists salutation the audience responded with prolonged cheers." "The messages and tributes paid to Ghalib," concludes Hasan, "were as representative as the audience itself." ("Ghalib Day in Bombay." People's War 2, 39 [26 March 1944], p. 3).
Chughad was first issued by Kutub Publishers Ltd. in June 1948, some six months after Manto left Bombay for Lahore. Housed in the Regal Building, Apollo Bunder, the publishing firm was founded some years earlier by Parsi architect Phiroze Mistry and Anil de Silva, "the socialist daughter of a Ceylon minister," well-known in Bombay circles as art historian, journalist and first general secretary of the Indian People's Theatre Association. Upon his return to India from Europe in 1946, the acclaimed novelist Mulk Raj Anand settled in Bombay and assumed directorship of Kutub, while also editing the art magazine Marg. Decades later, in a letter to the literary critic Saros Cowasjee, Anand would comment on his own editorial vision, recounting how at the time he "felt that Indian publishing ought to be helped to free itself from the stranglehold of the English and American book imperialists," and that such was the reason why he "sank all [his] patrimony into" the Kutub publishing collective.
By the time Chughad appeared from Kutub in the summer of 1948, the budding publishing house had already brought out works by most of Urdu's leading poets (Kaifi Azmi, Akhtar ul Iman, Ali Sardar Jafri, Josh Malihabadi) and short-story writers (K.A. Abbas, Krishan Chandar, Ismat Chughtai). Its list of publications had grown to include tomes on Indian architecture and music, as well as English translations from Bangla, Russian and Urdu. Sajjad Zaheer's influential pamphlet Urdu, Hindi, Hindustani was published in 1947. The following year saw the publication of Boatman of the Padma, Hirendranath Mukherjee's English rendition of Manik Bandyopadhyay's 1936 Bengali novel Padma nadir majhi. In addition to Manto's Chughad, collections of Urdu short stories published in 1948 included Krishan Chandar's Ajanta se aage (Beyond Ajanta) and Salihah 'Abid Husain's Niras men aas (Hope in Despair). A sampling of Kutub's non-fiction titles for the year offers a glimpse into some of the intellectual debates then raging in the newly independent country: K.A. Abbas' Kashmir Fights for Freedom; Mulk Raj Anand and George Keyt's The Story of India; Syed Ehtisham Husain's Adab aur samaj (Literature and Society); D. F. Karaka's Freedom Must Not Stink and No Peace at All; Hirendranath Mukherjee's India Struggles for Freedom; and Romesh Thapar's Storm over Hyderabad. The inauguration, also in 1948, of the "Na'e adab ke mi'mar" (Makers of New Literature) series—on which, it appears, the Sahitya Akademi was to model its own "Makers of Indian Literature" monographs some two decades later—introduced individual writers by way of slim, intimate portraits, all of which were penned by their immediate contemporaries: Krishan Chandar on Manto and Sahir Ludhianvi; Sardar Jafri on Makhdoom Mohiuddin; Sahir on Devendra Satyarthi; and, of course, Manto on Ismat.
The first edition of Chughad carries a mildly appreciative preface by Sardar Jafri (excised from subsequent editions) and nine short stories: "Ek khat" (A Letter); "Dharas" (Consolation); "Chughad" (The Blind Fool); "Parhiye kalima" (Recite the Creed); "Mus tin wala"; "Babu Gopinath"; "Mera nam Radha hai" (My Name is Radha); "Janaki"; and "Panch din" (Five Days). These pieces are for the most part of a kind familiar to readers of Manto. Let us now summarize some features of the stories, so that we may gain a deeper appreciation of the volume as a whole.