LAHORE: Famous novelist, playwright and short story writer Bano Qudsia passed away at the age of 88 here on Saturday.

Dastan Saraay, the house she lived in with the late Ashfaq Ahmed, in Model Town was surrounded with journalists and members of Lahore’s literary circle who had come to pay their respects and speak to her family on Saturday afternoon.

Ms Qudsia was a towering literary figure and her writings were popular both inside and outside the country. She had been ill for the last several years but her condition deteriorated a week ago owing to multiple complications.

Her son Aseer Ahmed told reporters in front of their residence that her mother passed away at around the time for Maghrib prayers at the Ittefaq Hospital. “What can I say on my mother’s death, perhaps that God has stopped sending great women like my mother,” he said.

Ms Qudsia was born on Nov 28, 1928 in Ferozepur, India, and came to Pakistan after partition. Her father had a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and her only brother, Pervaiz Chattah, was a painter.

She was fond of writing since she was a child and had begun writing short stories when she was in class 5. She graduated from the Kinnaird College in Lahore and completed her masters in Urdu from the Government College, Lahore, in 1951.

Though she gained much acclaim for the plays she penned for radio and TV, her novel Raja Gidh (The Vulture King) earned her accolades within the country and outside.

One of her plays, Aadhi Baat, is considered a classic. Among her more prominent writings are Aatish-i-zer-i-paa, Aik Din, Amer Bail, Asay Pasay, Chahar Chaman, Chhotaa Sheher Baray Log, Footpath ki Ghaas, Hasil Ghaat and Hawa Kay Naam, among others.

She was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2003 and Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2010.

Following her death, condolences poured in from all over the country.

Drama serial writer Asghar Nadeem Syed said Ms Qudsia was a literary stalwart after Quratulain Haider. With her passing away, another golden chapter of Urdu literature had come to an end.

He said there was great depth and strict adherence to moral values in her writings because she had remained in the company of personalities such as Mumtaz Mufti, Qudratullah Shahab and Ashfaq Ahmed.

Academy of Letters chairman Qasim Bughio, too, expressed deep sorrow and grief on her sad demise. He said Ms Qudsia had made a lofty contribution to Urdu literature through her immaculate writing.

Poet and playwright Amjad Islam Amjad said after Intezar Hussain, Abdullah Hussain and Quratulain Haider’s great works, Ms Qudsia’s writings stood in a category of their own. He recalled that she treated him as a younger brother when she helped him dramatise Amer Bail for television.

The grieving family has not yet decided the time for her funeral because her son Aneeq Ahmed is still in the US. The tentative time announced is 3:30pm on Sunday and the place is the Cricket Ground in Model Town.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2017

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