Published Date: Jan 23, 2019
Fahmida Riaz and Khalida Hussain were symbols of courage whose work should be a matter of learning and inspiration for new writers and the next generations, poet Kishwar Naheed said on Tuesday.
At a reference organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Ms Naheed recalled: “When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged, Fahmida wrote in an article that democracy was hanged. Because of the article not only was the newspaper closed but uniformed people started visiting her house, due to which she remained disturbed.”
Riaz was born in 1946 in Meerut, India, and died in Lahore on Nov 21, 2018. Ms Naheed said that when Benazir Bhutto was elected prime minister, Riaz was appointed head of the National Book Foundation, and was removed when Bhutto was removed.
SDPI organises reference in memory of the two late writers
“Although she did a lot of literary work and translated books as well, she broke down after the death of her 26-year-old son, who died in the United States,” she said.
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While speaking about renowned fiction writer Khalida Hussain, who passed away on Jan 11, at the age of 82, Ms Naheed said she and Hussain would read each other’s articles.
Hussain stopped writing for almost 12 years after she got married, she added. “When I became in charge of a magazine, I pushed Khalida to write again. I received her article along with a letter from her husband that future correspondence should be done through him,” she said.
Progressive writer Ahmed Salim said the work of both great literary personalities needs to be acknowledged, while Ishfaq Salim Mirza recalled his first encounter with Riaz through her literary collections, including Badan Dareeda and Pathar ki Zaban.
Mr Mirza said Riaz was among those literary figures whose work would always be remembered, and Hussain was confident and committed to her work.
Fiction writer Hameed Shahid said Hussain and Riaz were two different women by nature but full of life and creativity.
Hussain’s life revolved around movements, resistance and demonstrations, he said. She spent her life fighting for her ideology, which was mostly about existence and identity, and her work depicted women’s issues.
He said that one should read Dadi Jan Aj Chutti Par Hain to understand Hussain, and added that Riaz’ fictional work cannot be ignored either. He said Jhano Ko Chitthi Mili was her best work of fiction and a true depiction of society.
Dr Najeeba Arif, a writer, said people should be thankful to the two women who empowered them with their writing, fiction and poetry.
Urdu poet Fatima Hassan said Riaz was a symbol of resistance who did not compromise on her thought, beliefs and ideology, while Hussain raised awareness among women through her writing and fiction.
Hussain’s daughter Yasra, speaking at the reference, remembered her mother as a compassionate, humble and brave woman. She said she was not a feminist but wanted to see women naturally strong and empowered.
SDPI Executive Director Abid Qaiyum Suleri said sustainable development and societies could not be accomplished without the contribution of such noted literary figures.
He said that if Riaz and Hussain did not raise the issues of oppressed women society would remain backward, adding that the younger generation should be familiar with the struggle and contribution of such figures.