Soma panties, Manto’s ‘Black Margins’ and my leaping mind


Here is what I think is one of the compelling examples of how my writer’s mind works and mixes the seemingly immiscible.

As I opened my blog this morning my eyes were instantly drawn to the right hand margin where this fetching woman stood in an alluringly curvy pose wearing one Soma’s “softest, prettiest, best fitting panties” which is available for “a steal.” These are random ads, courtesy Google’s Ad Sense, whose algorithm probably scours my blog for lascivious keywords before deciding which ads to post.

As is my wont, I randomly visit several sites every morning to keep myself abreast of the goings-on. This morning after Facebook and this blog I opened the New Yorker’s website. What caught my attention there was this piece by Ali Sethi on the great Urdu writer Saadat Hassan Manto. In the piece Sethi talks about many things, including one of Manto’s stories ‘Siyah Hashiye’ (Black Margins).

The expression ‘Siyah Hashiye’ triggered in my mind the image of this Soma model on the margins of my blog. At that very instant an Urdu verse was immaculately born in my mind. What is with beautiful women and immaculate poetic conception?

The Urdu verse, which is obviously inspired by Manto’s title, goes like this:

Hashiye pe siyah husn yun mujhe lalkarey

Jaise zindgi ne mujhe na koi qaboo baksha ho

(The beauty in black on the margin dares me,

As if life has not equipped me with any restraint)

Even someone as used to my spontaneity as I am, I must say the verse was impressively quick and fairly cleverly crafted.

Incidentally, I have known the word hashiya since my childhood because it was frequently used by many school teachers while telling us to write certain things on the margins of our exercise notebooks. Who knew that four decades or so later it would jump out at me from the pages of the New Yorker even as I am captivated by the image of a woman in the “softest, prettiest, best fitting panties”?

Something tells me that Manto would have approved these leaps of my mind. And to the Soma model—you are alright.


About chutiumsulfate

South Asians can infer from my name what I am. View all posts by chutiumsulfate

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