The name of the book really intrigued me so I picked it up. “Old Thugs” or Puranay Thug پرانے ٹھگ made me smile. I think the first time I heard the word “thug” was probably in some hip hop song from ages ago. I honestly don’t quite remember. While I used to read quite a lot of Urdu fiction for children at the time, I somehow didn’t make the connection until now. I haven’t looked up the origins of the word, but when I saw the words Thug and ٹھگ juxtaposed in the book, I was taken aback. Maybe I was shocked, or pleasantly surprised. I don’t know which, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that this book that talks about the culture and the stories of thugs in sub-continent, this window into our land’s fascinating past, had suddenly also connected with a word that’s so commonly used today that I had just assumed, in my own ignorance if I may add, was a purely foreign construct. Never could I have imagined it was in 19th century India that the word “thug” was entered in official papers for the first time. Whether you think of time or space, it’s a small world after all.
I have shared a small excerpt from Raza Ali Abidi’s book below. These few lines shall take you to that moment in our history when a man claimed to be a thug for the first time
Also check out the story behind the beginning of this blog in its first post, The Treasures Forgotten