In Custody

Plot summary

Deven earns a living by teaching Hindi literature to college students. As his true interest was in Urdu poetry, he jumps at the chance to meet the great Urdu poet, Nur. Under the advice of his friend Murad, an editor of a periodical devoted to Urdu literature, Deven procures a secondhand tape recorder so that he can help transcribe Urdu's early poetry, as well as conduct an interview or even write the memoirs of Nur. However, things do not happen as he expects them to.

Devens' old friend Murad visits Deven unexpectedly with an offer for him to interview a great Urdu poet Nur Sahjahanabadi who lives in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi for his magazine. Deven is fond of Urdu poetry. He accepts the offer. At first, he thinks that he is getting a chance to sit before a great Urdu poet but after reaching his house he notices the unbearable condition of Nur's house. When he meets Nur, he refuses to give an interview by saying that Urdu is now at its last stage and soon this beautiful language will not exist. But he shows some trust in Deven. But Deven gets annoyed by the condition of Nur's house and drops the idea of interviewing Nur. Murad again convinces him to interview Nur with the help of tape recorder so that it can be further used for audio learning by Urdu scholars. Deven, who is a poor lecturer, asks for money from the college for a tape recorder. He goes to a shop to buy, where the shopkeeper, Jain, offers him a second hand tape recorder. At first Deven refuses to purchase it but later Jain convinces him that it is a machine with good quality and his own nephew Chikua will help them to operate it while recording the interview. Unwillingly, Deven agrees to purchase it. Nur's first wife promises Deven that she can arrange a room for Deven if he gives her some money. Deven arranged the money for the payment to her by the college authority with the help of his colleague-cum-friend Siddiqui. He then goes to Delhi with Chiku for recording, but he fails to record the interview. Now, he not only has no recording but also has to bear the expenses like payment demanded by poet, his wife, nephews of Jain, etc.

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