The Silence of The Hyena – Syed Muhammad Ashraf
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Award-winning writer Syed Muhammad Ashraf is one of the most important contemporary practitioners of the Urdu short story. Often set in rural India, Ashraf’s animal stories are among the most striking and imaginative works of fiction being written in the country today. This collection brings together the best of these tales of the wild, threaded through with a sense of foreboding and danger.
In ‘Rogue’, three men set out in a jeep on a winter’s night to hunt a rogue elephant. When they least expect it, monstrous, shadowy shapes begin to materialize out of the thick mist their vehicle is stranded in. In ‘Death of an Antelope’, the ageing leader of a herd of blackbuck is challenged for his position by a young buck with fatal consequences. In three linked stories—‘The Hyena Laughed’, ‘The Hyena Cried’, and ‘The Silence of the Hyena’—the shadow of the hyena, one of the craftiest and most ruthless predators in the forest, is always present in the narrative about the lives of men and women who live on the edge of the jungle, until man and animal become one and it is difficult to tell who is the more dangerous. And, in Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s translation of the novella Numberdar ka Neela (The Beast), the destinies of a blue bull and its owner, the village administrator, are intertwined—the fate of one will mark the other.
Unsettling and electrifying, The Silence of the Hyena is storytelling at its best.