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Our Self-Written Obituaries – Rakhshanda Jalil, Somewhere in Delhi

The 14th death.

[By Rakhshanda Jalil]

The erstwhile noted writer Rakhshanda Jalil died late last night. Living the life of a recluse in straitened circumstances, not much was known about her last years. With over 20 books, innumerable newspaper articles, book reviews, academic papers etc., she inexplicably dropped out of public life. We do not know what stilled her pen and stopped her prolific output.

In a literary career spanning twenty-odd years, Ms Jalil wrote voluminously and on a variety of subjects: literary criticism, literary histories, biographies of poets and writers, translations from Urdu and Hindi, as well as opinion pieces on culture and society. Twenty years after it was first published, Ms Jalil is best remembered for her seminal work on the progressive writers’ movement where she intertwined cullings from the colonial-era intelligence report, archival material from the holdings of the British Library as well as commentary on Manto, Faiz, Majaz and other progressive writers to write the first-of-its-kind history of a powerful left-leaning literary grouping.

Ms Jalil’s translations of Manto, Shahryar, Intizar Husain, Phanishwarnath Renu, Premchand and others, though out of print for many years, are cited in new works on translation studies. Her best-selling book on the lesser-known monuments of Delhi, Invisible City, now in its 10th reprint, continues to sell at its original price in Delhi’s iconic Bahrisons Booksellers, causing many to stop and stare.

Our Obituaries invites Delhiites across the world to write their obituary in 200 words. The idea is to share with the world how you will like to be remembered after you are gone. (May you live a long life, of course!) Please mail me your self-obit at

4 thoughts on “Our Self-Written Obituaries – Rakhshanda Jalil, Somewhere in Delhi

  1. Mayank !! I have to congratulate you on this good idea of self written orbits…. i don’t find them morbid or depressing ( wondering why so many people have commented on Rakhshanda’s in a very serious mood!! ) look forward to more 🙂

    1. Thank you, Himani. The idea is to have some little fun, of course, and to share with the world how we will like to be talked about after we are gone. Apparently, some Facebook friends of Ms Jalil are “shocked” and “outraged”. I tell them – “Come on, folks. Read the whole thing. It’s such an unusual freedom to write our own obits!”

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