By Qundeel Aymen
‘Men lived intensely and wrote intensely’. Those were stirring times, when passions were strong and speculation rife, when everything conspired to bring out the best in humans.
“Alas! She is no more”. This is a short sentence, but it has many meanings attached to it. The feeling of a great loss, sweet memories of her writings, and nostalgic sentiments are benumbing everyone.
Words alone cannot depict the magnanimous personality of this towering figure of the Urdu Literature. Born on Nov 28, 1928, Bano Qudsia proved that she had all the writing skills to join the august club of the literary giants of Pakistan. Here writing was infused with philosophy, and inspired by mysticism and the flux of time. Words came from her heart and made eternal marks.
She authored several short stories, novels and dramas which remained the living minds. Some of her classic works include: Raja Gidh, Aatish-i-Zer-i-Paa, Aik Din, Amer Bail, Asay Pasay, Chahar Chaman, Chotaa Sheher Baray Log, Footpath ki Ghaas, Haasil Ghaat and Hawa Kay Naam. Her works touched upon every aspect of social life
Her classical writings, including Raja Gidh – 1981 (The King Vulture) is the first full-length novel coated fully with prudence that started her journey towards novel writing. Later on she also authored novels namely: Parda and Shehr-e-Baymisaal. These novels are generally considered to be some of the most widely read in Urdu. Every bite is spiced with irony. She had projected the struggle of the soul through her characters. The very apt use of symbolism and metaphor made her an elusive writer. Here, Francis Bacon can be cited; ‘Some Books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.’
She is the harbinger of a new style of drama in the Urdu literature history. Her characters speak of political changes, economic upheaval and moral degeneration of that era, and of women in particular. Her plots are diverse. Every sentence is tinged with epigrammatic brevity and precision. Her style is somewhat proverbial. This highlighted her organizational nature. She was husbanding her storehouse of vocabulary in an enchanting manner. “Madness is only the result of unfulfilled unceasing love”, she once said.
She had shunned the image of so-called modern independent Woman, who had been trapped by her own whims of freedom and who rejected the responsibilities of family life, side by side, which ironically gets entangled in economic clutches. Bano vocalized the intentions of men to push women out as a breadwinner. It was the industrial era that developed the taste of luxury in men and women.
She was blessed with the intellectual aristocracy in the form of her spouse. Ashfaq Ahmad – a legendary writer of Urdu Language who also authored several books, novels and short stories. Both of them were matchless in every domain. Once, Bano asserted “We work independently, writing a book is like bearing a child and it is a confidential document between you and the book that you are creating”
She won Life Time Achievement Awards, Kamal-e-Fun Award, Best Playwright Award, Taj Award, Sitara-i-Imtiaz and Hilal-i-Imtiaz. On February 4, 2017 – heaven possessed her soul and her services towards literature would be eternally adored and her name with her intellectual legacy inscribed among the innumerable stars in the firmament of Urdu Literature.
Qundeel Aymen is a Writer and a Senior Member of Ladies Chapter of Pakistan Writers Club – Riyadh.