Saleem Kidwai taught history at Ramjas College, Delhi University, for many years. He co-edited Same-Sex Love in India (2000), and has translated several works of fiction and non-fiction from Urdu to English, such as Malka Pukhraj’s autobiography, Song Sung True. He is an independent scholar based in Lucknow.The writings of Sayyid Rafiq Hussain were first published in the literary journal Saqi. The eight stories translated in the Mirror of Wonders were his only works that were subsequently published as a volume, Aina-e Hairat . Sayyid Rafiq Hussain was an Urdu writer who claimed not to know how to write Urdu ‘at all’ yet created gems in a genre that was till then unknown to Urdu literature;. He was an Urdu speaker who, without studying it, could speak and compose in Persian but not read it; a man who claimed to hate animals yet observed them closely enough to write these empathetic ‘animal-stories’, and someone who proudly proclaimed his disdain for romance yet wrote two of the most striking love stories in Urdu: ‘Shirin-Farhad’ and ‘The Voiceless’ ( Bezubaan ).
The Mirror of Wonders places the work of this enigmatic yet gifted Urdu writer back in the hands of the reader by way of a deft and spirited translation by eminent writer and historian, Saleem Kidwai.