Qurratulain Hyder (1927-2007): Literature Does Not Die

Posted on August 21, 2007
Filed Under >Raza Rumi, People, Urdu
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by Raza Rumi

I have been upset the entire day. Perhaps it does not matter in the larger scheme of things. But this is a sad, sad day. Qurratulain Hyder, the literary giant of our times is no more. At a personal level it is not just the death of another literary figure but it is far greater and deeper than that. Ainee inspired generations of Urdu readers and there is not a single Urdu writer of post-independence era who has not been influenced by her.

Ainee had a civilizational consciousness that took us beyond the nation-state identities that we are so familiar with in our everyday lives. And, of course there was romance – the notion of eastern and Indic romance – that touched our lives. As I wrote earlier, that the way I have understood the world and perhaps parts of myself were deeply influenced by Ainee.

And now her death is a blow that this source of inspiration is not there anymore; as it is we are living in barren times where literature is about marketing and packaging and catering to consumers.

Ainee primarily wrote for herself but reached out and made her mark – and in the process she connected with millions of readers. And I am just one of them. My friends and I have talked today and we recounted how she shaped our inner lives.

I have at least avoided a regret – I met her after years of longing. Met her twice at her house in her frail state and enjoyed the hours. The impressions were indelible. Of course, the ambitious self had planned a meeting later this year.

But there will be nobody in that Noida house. That little temple opposite her house will remain and the sound of Azaan from a neighbouring mosque will also heard. But the hearty laughter, quick witted lines and inimitable writings will not be there.

However, as a friend said – writers die, their stories don’t -makes me a little content.

Farewell, Ainee Apa. May God keep you happy wherever you are…

Photo Credits: The black-and-White photo in this post is courtesy of Prashant Panjiar

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40 responses to “Qurratulain Hyder (1927-2007): Literature Does Not Die”

  1. Isalma says:

    There are two kind of people, one who have read Ainee Apa and got inspired ,the other who have not read her.

    Bus itna samajhney walon key liye kfi hey.

  2. Isalma says:

    There are two kind of people, one who have read Ainee Apa and inspired the others who have not read her..

    I am proud to belong to the first group .

  3. Adonis says:

    ‘Aag ka darya’ was one of the most fascinating books I’ve read. Even she could not write anything like that afterwards.

    I rate her as the best female urdu writer after Bano Qudsia. Her death is a great loss for Urdu. May she rest in peace. Amen.

  4. Raza Rumi says:

    Adnan Mian – thanks for adding to this discussion. Yes her greatest work was written in Pakistan. She left everything in India and migrated to Pakistan. As our wise friend YLH said that her departure from Pakistan was due to the censorship under Ayub rule and witch hunting that started after the publication of Urdu language’s best novel.
    She was disgruntled and heart-broken not to mention feared insecurity. She was no political activist who would have made capitalout of such persecution.
    so she moved to India. Like Champa, her legendary character who also moves to her small town –
    Yes this was Pakistan’s loss.
    During our last conversation, I asked her that how she coped with this dilemma – that her readership was in Pakistan and she lived in India (where Urdu is let’s face it a minority language). She was quite stoic about it and said that India was a complex and multi-lingual country and she had accepted this fact when she moved back. And, that she had no pretentsions or ambitions of being a ‘popular’ writer.
    I suspect that there was an underlying sense of history in her nonchalance – great writing finds recognition across borders, cultures and langauges..
    This is why I like the title that Owais has invented for this post – great literature indeed never dies.

  5. The greatest of them all has left us for good.

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