URDU literature has lost a giant in the death if Altaf Fatima, for me she was my dear Shamoo Khala. She was a writer with a unique and solitary style.
Her debut novel Nishan-i-Mehfil which she wrote at a very early age, was an instant hit. Her second novel Dastak Na Do considered as one of the best works in the Urdu language. It was translated in English and other languages. Her novel Chalta Musfir is probably the only piece of fiction writing on the 1971 tragedy then came Khawab Gar.
Her last short stories collection was Deed Wadeed, which got the best fiction award in at Karachi Literature Festival earlier this year.
Hailing from a literally family, she was the niece of Rafique Hussain Jaffery and started writing at a very early age. Her brother Fazl-i-Qadeer was a great critic of his times, while her sister, Nishat Fatima, was also a known figure and a great writer.
Altaf Fatima is known to the world as a fiction writer and a great translator, but very few are aware of her personality. She was absolutely free from any worldly desires. She refused to accept the Pride of Performance from Gen Ziaul Haq. She spent a very simple life and always kept a low profile by refusing to appear on media to give interviews. She was an institution in herself with firm command of English and Persian. She had a photographic memory even at the age of 92, remembering even the smallest details of her youth.
She never used her name or status to seek any benefits. Her aim in life was not popularity but to write.
Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2018