Sunlight on a Broken Column was written by Attia Hosain and was published in 1961. The novel is set in Lucknow, India, and the protagonist and topic of this autobiography is a fictional girl named Laila, who is the daughter of a rich Muslim family and is an orphan. Both of her parents have died and so Laila lives with her grandfather and her two aunts on her father’s side. Her father requested that Laila receive a western style education, so she did, though she also must follow tradition with her aunts.
However, her life changes dramatically when her grandfather passes away and her Uncle Hamid takes charge of the family. Before, Laila was permitted to carry on with her newfangled ideas acquired from her education as long as she respected and obeyed the traditional rules and customs. However, Uncle Hamid, though he considers himself “liberal,” is an extremely controlling guardian, dramatically restricting all of his family’s freedom.