Lahore - Celebrated Urdu playwright, novelist and short story writer Bano Qudsia passed away on Saturday after a protracted illness. She was 88 years old.

She is survived by three sons, their wives and seven grandchildren. The funeral prayers will be offered today at 3:30 pm at her residence in Model Town.

Bano Qudsia was born in Firozepur, India on November 28, 1928. Her father was a landlord with a Bachelors degree in agriculture who died when she was very young. Her mother was a senior educationist and inspired Bano Qudsia to develop a keen interest in academics. She attended school in Dharamsala in eastern India before moving to Lahore.

Bano Qudsia’s marriage to Ashfaq Ahmed in 1956 would result in a lifelong literary companionship, though she insisted she never discussed any of her works with her husband and that he did not influence her writing.

She graduated from Kinnaird College and later did her masters in Urdu from Government College, Lahore, which was where she first met the charming young Ashfaq Ahmed who would go on to be her husband. Her first published short story was Wamandige-a-Shouq in ‘Adab-e-Lateef while she was still completing her masters at GC. She gained great popularity because of the social, emotional and psychological appeal of her literary works. Among them, Baz Gasht, Amar Bail, Doosra Darwaza and Raja Gidh continue to be revered among readers of Urdu literature. Other famous publications include Aatish Zeir Pa, Aik Din and Haasil Ghaat. Her literary inspirations were Qudrat Ullah Shahab, Mumtaz Mufti and, it is widely assumed, Ashfaq Ahmed.

Bano Qudsia wrote for both television and stage in Urdu. In the realm of television plays, she is considered a trendsetter and revolutionary. Some of her best loved plays include Tamasil, Hawa Kay Naam and Khaleej. Her play ‘Aadhi Baat’ is considered a classic.

The primary subject of her writings was the plight of women and socio-economic issues in society. She received the graduate award for best playwright in 1986 and the same award for three consecutive years from 1988 to 1990.

In the year 2010, Bano Qudsia was given the Kamal-e-Fun award by the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) and honoured with the Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2003.

In an interview with The Nation four years ago, Bano Qudsia spoke about the time she spent with her husband who passed away on September 07, 2004.

“We spent fifty years together but time spent in happiness and satisfaction always passes quickly. The time I spent with Ashfaq Sahib was so wonderful that it passed without any realisation of its passing away,” she said.

Bano Qudsia could expound endlessly on the myriad aspects of life. Her articulation and diction added to the charm of her discourse.

Rather critical of the deviation of today’s women from their natural roles of mother and home keeper, Bano Qudsia decried what she termed “a woman’s unsolicited and disoriented escape from responsibility.”

Interestingly though, she continued to blame men for plotting a conspiracy to push women out of the house- their only domain.

She often shed light on social issues, particularly those focused on marriage, respect between couples and communication.

“She was very funny. Witty, charming, just the right amount of sarcastic,” said Brig. Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan (rtd), youngest brother of Ashfaq Ahmed. “She had her own style.”

Every era has its own crop of writers and when they pass, they become bookmarks for that specific era. Bano Qudsia was no doubt a literary giant of her time, and will forever be remembered in history as a source of inspiration and a master of social commentary. With her death, an important chapter of Urdu literature has closed and become for future generations, a precious national heritage.



Legendary Urdu writer Bano Qudsia dies

Faizan Javed