Renowned progressive Urdu writer, poet, known for her strong feminist and anti-establishment leanings, Fahmida Riaz has passed away at the age of 73, after a prolonged illness in Lahore, on Wednesday night.
Fahmida Riaz was born on 28 July 1945 in a literary family of Meerut, UP, of British India. Her father, Riaz-ud-Din Ahmed, was a educationist, who had been involved in mapping and developing the modern education system for the province of Sindh. Her family settled in the city of Hyderabad following her father’s transfer to the province of Sindh. She learned about the Urdu and Sindhi literature in her childhood and after that learnt the language of Persian. After completing her education she began working as a newscaster for Radio Pakistan. During this period she worked with the BBC Urdu service (Radio) and got a degree in film making. She has 1 daughter from this marriage.
Fahmida Riaz worked in an advertising agency in the city of Karachi before beginning her own Urdu publication Awaz. The liberal and politically charged content of Awaz grabbed the attention of the Zia era and both Fahmida and her husband Zafar were charged with various cases—the magazine shut down and Zafar was imprisoned. Fahmida Riaz on Censorship believes that “one should be totally sincere in one’s art, and uncompromising. There is something sacred about art that cannot take violation. One should read extensively to polish expression. I read Platts’ Urdu-Hindi to English Dictionary like a book of poems. I love words.”
She was also a human rights activist and the author of more than 15 books on fiction and poetry. Her first literary work was published in 1967, titling ‘Pather Ki Zuban’. Fahmida wrote several books like Godaavari, Khatt-e Marmuz, Khana e Aab O Gil, Dhoop, Badan Darida, Karachi, Adhoora Aadmi, Khule Dareeche Se, Qafle Parindon Ke, Gulabi Kabotar, etc. Apart from this she also translated the masnavi of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi from Persian to Urdu, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and Shaikh Ayaz from Sindhi to Urdu and Rumi’s shayari into Urdu.
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17 November, 2019