This essay reads Saadat Hasan Manto’s short story, “Thanda Gosht” (1950), depicting women’s experience of sectarian brutality during the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, to delineate the postcolonial significance Gayatri Spivak’s concept of originary queerness. Manto’s synecdoche (“cold meat”) for an unnamed and raped female corpse, her Sikh abductor and violator, as well as for the story’s readers, (re)figures reproductive heteronormativity as a process of unknowing that emplaces a gendered taxonomy, even when its victims are silent. Rather than reinforce sexual difference as a finished itinerary, however, Kulwant Kaur’s repeatedly piercing question—who she is—queers “Thanda Gosht” by taking us to a “she” who we cannot imagine but seem to know. This tarrying with originary queerness “in its place” (Spivak, “Gender” 817, emphases added) dockets an unpredictable futurity made especially resonant by the chill that asseverates from Ishar’s Singh’s use of a peculiar affective idiom to describe his encounter with the unnamed and raped corpse, whose originary queerness inverts a teleological trajectory to manifest (the fight for) Nation as (visiting) “burre ki ma ka ghar” (बुरे की माँ के घर; the house of Bad’s mother). This place, far from patriarchal honor and protection, makes a “zaalim” (ज़ालिम; bloodthirsty) of (“us”) all, such that we cannot say what happened.
"Visiting the House of Bad’s Mother: Queering Saadat Hasan Manto’s “Thanda Gosht”,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 24:
2, Article 8.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol24/iss2/8