Fatima Surayya Bajia, the Woman who only loved Humanity

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All of us human beings have this natural tendency to like or dislike certain things. Love and hate are two such strong human emotions which I think govern and dominate all of human thinking and being. Love –in particular – propels us how we live our lives, how we behave and how we think. For instance, I love being an exceptionally talented individual, that’s my goal in life. That’s what I wanted to do. So this love of mine for human intellect and brilliance influences my existence. Similarly, I have in me the emotion of hate – to dislike or fear certain things – which affects my existence as well.

Surely all of you would have your own LOVES and HATES but have you ever known someone who only knows LOVE. Who have no idea about hate? Who doesn’t know how to hate? If not then you probably don’t know who Fatima Surayya Bajia was. She was the woman who only learnt to love, who didn’t possess hate. So automatically, her mind, soul and body was never get influenced by the hate and negativity of this universe. She was the kindest, sweetest and loveable of all the human beings.

Veteran playwright and novelist, Fatima Surayya Bajia was born into an educated family of Hyderabad Deccan on September 1, 1930.  After the fall of Hyderabad state in September 1948, she moved to Pakistan with her family.

Bajia got her first novel published by her grandfather at the age of 14. She started her career by acting in one of director Agha Nasir’s plays. She discovered her foray for scripting afterwards and became most prominent for her association with Pakistan Television (PTV). Bajia started penning plays for the national TV channel right from its beginning. She penned some of the greatest dramas of PTV’s history such as Aroosa, Shama, Afshan, Ana, Aagahi and Zeenat. In all of her plays Bajia highlighted our societal and familial ties. Her plays were known to be culturally elaborate, depicting the culture of the area and the period the story was about. Bajia wrote extensively for TV, radio and stage plays. Significantly she wrote scripts on topics that have been seldomly addressed in Pakistani drama e-g children, women, history and culture. She did historical plays, children’s programmes, women’s programmes and literary programmes such as Auraq.

Bajia also penned a stage play Khali Goud in which she portrayed a woman’s ordeals in Japanese society after the World War II. The play was produced by Pakistan Japan Cultural Association Sindh (PJCA) and Japan Cultural Centre (JCC) in collaboration with Arts Council, Karachi. The play effectively communicated the message and was critically acclaimed.

It’s fascinating to note that the woman who turned out to be such an influential writer didn’t receive any formal schooling. In fact, she was home-schooled for most of her early life and had acquired extensive knowledge of Arabic, Persian, English and Urdu literature and history.

Being the eldest among her nine siblings, she took the responsibility of looking after her younger siblings and raised them to be an asset for the society after her father and grandfather passed away. Her younger brother, the eminent writer, poet and satirist Anwar Maqsood, and sisters, poetess Zehra Nigah, couturier Sughra Kazmi, and culinary expert Zubaida Tariq – all are testament to Bajia’s legacy.  Her personality, her own experiences were the reasons that she always portrayed women characters in her plays as strong, respected, and esteemed individuals.

God bestowed her with special powers and blessings. She was a motherly figure for everyone. She was empathic to human sufferings and that’s what her work was about. She could relate to human pain and was able to communicate social complexities in a way that all of us can relate to. Bajia was used to call everyone beta even those who themselves were elder than her. She was very considerate about everyone –ever ready to help others and listen to their voices.

Bajia was the winner on every path of life but she couldn’t defeat death. No one can. She passed away last month after losing her fight with throat cancer. She was the pioneering playwright, author and activist of our country. Her contributions and her work in Urdu literature inspire others, especially women to come into this field. She was awarded many accolades in recognition of her invaluable contributions including Pride of Performance, Hilal-e-Imtiaz and Japan’s highest civil award.

Bajia also served as president of the Pakistan-Japan Cultural Association. This International Women’s Day, we should celebrate Fatima Surraya Bajia’s love and compassion for humanity.

 

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Aniqa Zainab is an aspiring journalist, pursuing her Honors in Mass Communication from University of Karachi. She is a keen reader and loves to write. She tweets @theaniqa

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