Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bano Qudsia

Bano Qudsia, Sitara-e-Imtiaz (b. 1928) is a writer, intellectual, playwright and spiritualist from Pakistan who is regarded among the best Urdu novelists and short story writers of modern times. She is best known for her novel Raja Gidh. She writes for television and stage in both Urdu and Punjabi languages. She is the wife of famous novelist Ashfaq Ahmed.

Bano Qudsia is recognized as a trendsetter in the realm of television plays. Some of them gained immense popularity across the border because of their vitality, warmth and courage. Strife is one word she would like to banish from the dictionary. She attributes the hostilities raging across the world to the Intolerance and selfishness of the human race.

Bano moved with her family to Lahore during the Partition. Her father a landlord with a bachelors degree in agriculture, died when Bano was very young. She attended school in Dharamsala in eastern India before moving to Lahore. Her mother was an educationist, and this inspired the young Bano to develop a keen interest in academics, which turned her into a conscientious student. Her marriage to Ashfaque Ahmad consummated the artist in her, though she says she never discusses any of her works with her husband nor has the writer-spouse ever tried to influence her writings. "We work very independently. Writing a book is like bearing a child and you do not share that with anyone. God is your only confidante. It is also like falling in love. You keep it personal and private."

Bano Qudsia with Ashfaq Ahmad

Bano says she has had a passion for writing for as long as she can remember. As a student, she wrote for college magazines and other journals. Her memories of her days at Kinnaird College in Lahore, from where she graduated, are still quite vivid. She talks of the literary inspiration that was a hallmark at Kinnaird's campuses during those days. Though her stay at Kinnaird went a long way in sharpening her scholarly skills, Bano felt an incessant need to polish her expressions in Urdu, the only language with which she could reach the minds of the people. So in 1951, she completed her M.A. degree in Urdu from the Government College Lahore with distinction.

===Works and Honors===

Author of innumerable short stories, novelettes, television and radio plays, besides some memorable stage plays, Bano's writings have a strong association with life's vicissitudes.

Though many term her novels and plays 'indigestible,' it is true to say that she is one of the few contemporary Urdu writers who have used the everyday philosophy of life as thesis her writings. The strength of conviction in her prose is unmistakable. Her short stories like Baz Gasht, Amar Bail, Doosra Darwaza and Twajju ki Talib, the latter, a stimulating collection of short stories, have mustered a vast readership. Of her novels, none has received as much recognition as Raja Gidh which centers around the forbidden truth. The plot builds around the symbol of a vulture, a bird of prey, that feeds on dead flesh and carcasses. The moral sought implies that indulgence in the forbidden leads to physical and mental degeneration.

Some of her best plays include Tamasil, Hawa key Naam, Seharay and Khaleej. The plight of women and other socio-economic issues have often been the subject of her television serials that have inspired families wherever they have been aired. The Graduate Award for Best Playwright was conferred on Bano in 1986, followed by the same award for three consecutive years from 1988 to 1990. In 1986, she was also given the Taj Award for Best Playwright. Bano can expound endlessly on the myriad aspects of life without risking to bore her audience. Her articulation and diction add to the charm of her discourse.

Rather critical of the deviation of today's woman from her natural role of mother and home keeper, Bano decries what she terms 'a woman's unsolicited and disoriented escape from responsibility.' Interestingly, though, she blames men for plotting a conspiracy to push women out of the house, her only domain. "And women fall easy prey to this trap. Men of the post-industrialization era gave women a taste of luxurious lifestyles and then instigated them to step out of the house and earn that lifestyle. The woman developed a taste for what she thought was freedom for her, but which actually bonded her as a labourer and a breadwinner."

She cites the example of the woman who does the dishes in her home. "This woman is more liberated than your modern women, since she does not suffer from any conflicts of the 'self'. Poverty is all that hurts her and she is not caught in a rat race to prove something to herself or carve out an identity for herself. Her existence is identity enough." Bano also feels that what she calls women's 'strength of softness' has been lost in their struggle to prove themselves equal to men. What women take as their weaknesses are in fact their strengths, she believes.

Bano Qudsia planned to co-author a book with her (now late) husband. Her obligations towards her family are much more important for her than her work. "My husband (now late), my three sons and daughter-in-law have all been very kind to me and have always showered their affections on me. So, how can I ever put anything else before them?"

Having lived a fulfilling life, which Bano ascribes to the benevolence of those around her, she kept herself busy caring for her husband, the writer Ashfaque Ahmad. She is now working on her present literary undertaking - a novel which she plans to title Dastan Serai, after her home. "I formally started work on this novel in 1992. Prior to this, I had worked on it during the 1950s. The novel is set against the backdrop of Partition and revolves around the theme of intention and motivation. It highlights the importance of intention as the key determinant behind every act."


*Aatish Zeir Pa
*Adhi Baat
*Aik Din
*Amr Bail
*Assey Passey
*Chahar Chaman
*Dast Basta
*Dosra Darwaza
*Dusra Qadam
*Foot Path Ki Ghaas
*Haasil Ghaat, Read online
*Hawwa Key Naam
*Kuch Aur Nahi
*Marde Abresham
*Maum Ki Gallian
*Naqabal e Zikr
*Piya Naam Ka Diya
*Purwa and Aik Din
*Raja Gidh, Read online
*Suraj Mukhi
*Tawjha Ki Talib
*Dastan Sarei, forthcoming

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