ISLAMABAD, Oct 31: Samina Raja, a renowned literary figure who excelled in Urdu poetry and authored several books, was laid to rest at H-8 Graveyard on Wednesday. She had breathed her last on Tuesday at the age of 51, succumbing to cancer.
Literary personalities and human rights activists including Kishwar Naheed, Shabnam Shakeel, Asma Raja (sister of Samina Raja), Mahboob Zafar, Tahira Abdullah and the late poet’s three sons gathered at her residence in Sector I-8 and completed arrangements for her funeral.
Talking to Dawn, poet and columnist Kishwar Naheed said Samina Raja was like her sister.
“When Samina started her poetry, her hallmark was romanticism but with time, a more classical touch was apparent in her work,” she said.
Poet Mahboob Zafar counted Samina Raja among the greatest poets the country had ever produced.
“Samina Raja had been nominated for two awards – Prime Minister Award and Writers Award – but she refused to accept them citing nomination of undeserving people along with her. Many a times she refused to participate in literary events where chief guests were those who had nothing to do with literature,” Mr Zafar added.
He continued that “she had a sensitive personality and used to care about the problems of every person no matter what their status was. Her death is a major loss to literature.”
Mr Zafar recalled the phone call he received from the late poet’s son last week, informing him that Samina, who had been hospitalised, wanted to see him.
“I reached Islamabad and met her. She told me that she wanted to be buried in H-8 Graveyard so after her death I helped her sons find a grave for her there,” he said.
Human rights activist Tahira Abdullah said it was unfortunate that Islamabad was losing literary personalities and human rights activists so quickly.
“Just a day earlier Asad Rehman died and the next day we heard the news about Samina Raja. It is really sad for the people of Islamabad.”
The human rights activist said: “Samina Raja was young and belonged to the second generation of Pakistan. It is a time when we need leaders from the second generation to solve our issues.”
President Idara-i-Adab-o-Saqafat Tariq Shahid said Samina was a modern poet and most of her poems revolved around issues of the present day – poverty and education.
Samina Raja was born on September 11, 1961 in Rahimyar Khan. She held a master’s degree in Urdu Literature from the University of Punjab.
She started writing poetry in 1973 and published 12 collections – Huweda (1995), Shehr-i-Saba (1997), Aur Wisal (1998), Khwabnaey (1998), Bagh-i-Shab (1999), Bazdeed (2000), Haft Aasman (2001), Parikhana (2002), Adan Ke Rastey Par (2003), Dil-i-Laila (2004), Ishqabad (2006) and Hijr Nama (2008). She also published two Kulliyat and one selection of her poetry.
She joined the National Book Foundation as a consultant in 1998 and edited its monthly newsletter Kitab from 1998 to 2005. She also edited monthly literary magazines Mustaqbil (1991–1994), Aasar (1998–2004) and Khwabgar from 2008 till her death.
In her poetry she highlighted the feminine and human perspectives of love and longing, socio-psychological problems of the new age, mythological and metaphysical subjects.
She was also working as a subject specialist in the National Language Authority and was planning to bring out a special edition of literary magazine Khwabgar (dreammaker) on legendary poet Ahmad Faraz.