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A tribute to progressive women writers

A tribute to progressive women writers

KARACHI: The dramatic readings held at Habib University on Monday saw the group Zambeel perform on the works of progressive Urdu writers Qurratulain Hyder and Ismat Chughtai.

Titled as ‘Lady Changez Khan and Pom-Pom Darling’, the programme was convened by Dr Asif Aslam Farrukhi who game details about the two anglicised titles, with Lady Changez Khan being Chughtai and Hyder as Pom Pom Darling.

“The reason why these two writers have these two names is that they both awarded these titles to each other. The story goes that unlike today when people publicly insult their counterparts using media platforms, these two writers used intellectual means to criticise the way of writing. Haider who wrote about the high society of the times was criticised for her style by Chughtai and Krishen Chander and the pamphlet written by them was titled ‘Pom Pom Darling’.”

He added that Hyder, however, later revealed the tale behind Pom Pom Darling that she and her cousins lovingly called their car which was in a terrible state, ‘Pom Pom Darling’. “The friction between both writers was purely on a literary basis and given that Chughtai was a well-knonw writer when Hyder began her career. They got closer later on and Hyder acknowledged in the obituary she wrote for her and addressed her as ‘Lady Changez Khan’,” explained Farrukhi.

With Nimra Bucha, Asma Mundrawala and Saifee Hasan as performers, the two stories read dramatically by the actors were Ghoonghat by Ismat Chughtai and Nazara Darmiyan by Qurratulain Hyder. The two stories centred on relationships kept the audience glued to their seats, with the former on a bride and the groom and latter based on unrequited love.

Commenting on the need to bring such stories in the curriculum, Farrukhi stressed that contemporary, progressive writers must be taught to the younger generation. “This session is a tribute to women’s writing and aims at familarising the young minds with the greats, hence, we have included such works in our curriculum. Plus these writers have been read by the elder generation and this helps in reinforcing their relationship with the youth.”

He added that Hyder did not write about the masses, but her work evolved later and portrayed the high society by showing the superficial and artificial element in them just as it was depicted in Nazara Darmiyan.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2015

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