“History is another name for humanity’s inability to learn its lesson,” Qurratulain Hyder
“My concern for civilization values about which I continue writing may sound naive, wooly-headed and simplistic. But then, perhaps, I am like that little bird which foolishly puts up its claws, hoping that it will stop the sky from falling,” Qurratulain Hyder
Even three years after her death, one still feels the freshness and strength of different characters that she created. As a prolific writer, she started writing at a very young age. She is considered one of the most celebrated writers of Urdu fiction. The death of Qurratulain Hyder marks the end of a period of the optimum writing in Urdu. Qurratulain Hyder, a.k.a Ainee Apa, truly dominated the world of Urdu literature for over six decades.
Her piece Mere Bhi Sanam Khaney (My Temples, Too) is the story of family embedded in the traditions of the Indo-Muslim culture as it struggled to narrate the tragic tale of the birth of two new nations. The set of rich charecaters like Rakhshanda, Karan, Picho, Christabil and Gunni represent a group of people who are brave, protagonists and enthusiastic for creating a new world. The story also portrays deep cultural roots of Lucknow, its faded culture and how old values replaced the new ones after partition. It also reflects the end of a feudal system that came with the Independence.
Her work Kar-e-Jahan Daraz Hay is an excellent family chronicle and autobiographical work. The most genius literary work is Aag ka Darya (River of Fire) that deals with the dilemma of human condition in the Indo-Pakistani background until the formation of a new country. Through a wonderful characterization that depicts the sociology, history and culture that rooted over centuries in India. The tour de force beautifully extends over centuries and explains a vast span of times and historical epochs till post-Independence era in India and Pakistan.
Her work Aglay Janam Mohey Bitia na Kejio is a fine and delicate piece on social class, gender exploitation and injustice. The poor girls Qamran and Shamsan struggle a lot to get themselves adjusted in a cruel and un-accepting male-dominated society. Sita Haran is about a dirge to the sagacity of individual and political perfidy subject to human beings. It is about a modern and well-educated Sindhi Hindu migrant woman, Sita Mirchandani, who starts living with her lover Irfan after being separated from her Muslim husband, and remains highly nostalgic about her past. She struggles against a battle of exile that is more internal in nature. It is a story of betrayal at personal as well as political level.
Housing Society explores the post independence cultural and economic classes. Jamshed, who is a poor man’s son, comes to Karachi and becomes a powerful and influential business entrepreneur, while the family of Chhoti Bitia (Salma) and Surayya start struggling to make their survival in the new political and economic system. One finds a touch of little scorn in this masterpiece novella.
Her piece Pat Jhar ki Awaz (The Sound of Falling Leaves) has a classical touch to it. And it has been translated into Bengali, Punjabi, Oriya, Tamil, Kanada and Dogri languages. It un-folds a series of personal, economic, historical and political betrayals and also tend to explore the calamitous events that have disclosed their lives. Her travelogue Koh-i-Damavand covers the reminiscences of Iran, Russia and Kashmir. Chandni Begum reflects the altering realities of modern life and people who are main victims of this traumatic cycle. The novellas Dilruba and Chai ke Bagh are based on traumatic social status of women. The ordeal felt by Gulnaar Bai and Kashani sisters is well enough to depict the misery of women in a society.
The Street Singers of Lucknow and Other Stories combine fact, fantasy and pinch of satirical humor along with rococo imitation and brusque post-modernism. Picture gallery is a collection of different essays, reports and documentaries on topical issues.
Besides these, her works include Sitaron Sey Aagey, Sheeshay ke Ghar, Safina-e-gham-e-Dil, Gardish-e-Rang-e-Chaman, Roshni ki Raftaar, Sitambar Ka Chaand, Fasle-gul-aai ya Ajal Aayi and Jila Watan.
The novel Aakhir-e-Shab ke Hamsafar is set in Bengal and runs alongside imperative historic moments and epochs like the ascending in nationalistic feelings, the rise of revolutionary movements in Bengal, and the demand for Bangladesh.
She received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1967, Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1969, and Ghalib Award in 1985. She also received Jnanpith Award in 1989 for her novel Aakhir-e-Shab ke Hamsafar. She was awarded Padma Shri and was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2005 by the Government of India, for her role to Urdu Literature and education.
She left us on August 21, 2007 after a prolonged illness. If I keep on writing about her all life, her work, and other achievements, my pen would never stop. Her range and depth in portraying societies, cultures, traumas and individuals still remains inimitable. Ainee Apa shall always live on in her stories.
Story first published: 21st August 2010