ISLAMABAD: Contemporary poets Fahmida Riaz and Khalida Hussain were not just writers, they were symbols of courage, bravery and resistance who fought their entire lives for rights of the oppressed and the marginalized segments of society through their writings, poetry and.
These were the views of their family, friends and noted literary colleagues during a reference for paying tribute to the two. The reference was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Renowned Urdu poet Kishwar Naheed said that Riaz was against the highest form of censorship — conservative thoughts, which is also depicted in her writings and poetry.
Riaz’s fiction pieces and poetry, Naheed said, usually revolved around the socio-political issues of the subcontinent after partition.
While speaking about Hussain, Naheed said she is revered as a big name in the literature. Every single novel and fiction of Hussain depicts a different but true picture of society, Naheed said.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that sustainable societies cannot be achieved without the contributions of such noted literary figures.
He added that if Riaz and Hussain did not raise issues of oppressed women in our society, it would have been unlikely that those issues would have ever come to light.
Lamenting a general disregard amongst the young generation for prominent literary writers of the recent past, Suleri said that youngsters should familiarise themselves with the struggles and contributions of such great literary figures.
Fiction writer Hameed Shahid said that while Hussain and Riaz were two entirely different women by nature and approach, they both shared the exuberance for life and creation.
Hussain’s life, he said, revolved around movements, resistance and demonstrations. She spent her life fighting for her ideology, which was mostly about existence and identity.
Shahid, though, contended that Hussain was not a feminist but her work depicts issues of women. To understand Hussain, he suggested that people should read “Dadi Jan aj Chuti par hain”.
On Riaz, Shahid said that her fiction writing cannot be ignored and suggested that ‘Jhano ko Chithi mili’ was her best fiction work which depicts the true picture of society.
Hussain’s daughter Yasra said that unlike the image of her that the world has, she found her mother a compassionate, humble and brave lady.
She echoed Shahid by stating that while Hussain was not a feminist she wanted to see women naturally strong and empowered.
Ishfaq Salim Mirza, a noted progressive writer, narrated his first encounter with Riaz — coincidentally through her literary collections including ‘Badan Dareeda’ and ‘Pathar ki Zaban’.
He said that Riaz was amongst those literary personalities whose work will always be remembered, whereas, Hussain was a confident lady who was committed to her work.
Poetess Fatima Hassan said that Riaz to her was a symbol of resistance who did not compromise on her ideas, whereas, Hussain attempted to raise awareness about women issues through her writing.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2019.