KARACHI: Speakers paid glowing tributes to eminent writer Fatima Suraiya Bajia at the launch of a book on her life and works titled Hamari Bajia by Iffat Rizvi at the Arts Council, Karachi, on Monday.
Bajia’s brother and renowned satirist Anwar Maqsood hosted the programme. He peppered his anchoring with rib-tickling anecdotes, and at the same time never lost sight of the respect and reverence that Bajia deserved. He briefly talked about Bajia’s large-heartedness and the zeal to help others. “She can’t say ‘no’ to anyone,” he commented.
Media person Agha Nasir, who had flown in from Islamabad to take part in the event, reminisced about the period when he met Bajia for the very first time in 1966. PTV’s Lahore Television had just begun functioning and among other assignments Agha Nasir used to produce dramas. One day, while he was perturbed about a workers’ strike, Bajia came into his room and requested him if he could show her around the TV station. Nasir, on the contrary, offered her a part to play in one of his plays and handed over the script to her. She went through the script and liked it. Not many people knew about this, Mr Nasir claimed.
Agha Nasir said the most significant feat that Bajia had accomplished was that she was able to put together the culture and values of this country at a time when they cut a disparate picture. He told the audience that during Gen Zia’s suffocating rule (when in TV dramas women were allowed to be portrayed only in a certain style) she managed to find a way to dupe the authorities. She wrote plays depicting the culture and tradition of Baghdad and Qurtaba of the days of yore, which were so-called Islamic societies, and penned various characters of women that no one could object to. He said one book and awards like the Pride of Performance would not do justice to Bajia’s achievements; there should be more.
Poet Zehra Nigah (Bajia’s sister) delivered a well-structured and eloquent speech. She told the gathering that in her family (they are10 siblings) there was no differentiation on the basis of ‘you and I’. Therefore if she praised her sister, she would be praising herself, which was not appropriate. She argued so many people had turned up for the event because Bajia had blessed all of them with her dua. It was one thing to be born before someone else and become an elder, but quite another to act like an elder. “Bajia is the elder sister of all Pakistanis,” she remarked.
Zehra Nigah said what made Bajia stand out was her association with religion, which had taught her to love humanity and never prefer one individual over another. She claimed Bajia’s house was an example of social equality. She lamented that a lack of accountability had hurt our society and it’s a human being’s conscience that held him or her accountable. She wound up her speech by stating that Bajia was an eternal optimist who never stopped hoping for the better for society.
Prof Sahar Ansari lauded the fact that a book on Bajia’s life and works had finally been published. He said affection and compassion for fellow human beings were integral to Bajia’s personality. He told the audience that she belonged to a literary family as her maternal grandfather, Nawab Nisar Yaar Jang, was a sahib-i-diwan poet. He also shed light on the writer’s involvement in the Pakistan-Japan Cultural Forum, Ghalib Library and the Arts Council.
The author of the book Iffat Hasan Rizvi said Bajia was such a great writer that she felt it was her responsibility not to ignore her works. The book was an attempt at making Bajia an important part of Urdu literature.
Qudsia Akbar, Qazi Wajid, Iqbal Latif, Zubeida Tariq and Ahmed Shah also spoke.
Anwar Maqsood in the end asked Bajia to repeat a sentence after him, which was about how she loved all those who had come to see the event.—Peerzada Salman