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Karnataka-born Pakistani playwright Fatima Surayya Bajia leaves behind a literary legacy

Ruchi Kumar | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:38 IST

Acclaimed Pakistani playwright Fatima Surayya Bajia passed away in Karachi on 11 February. The 85-year-old Bajia was suffering from throat cancer.

The literary pioneer in Pakistan, Bajia was born in Hyderabad Deccan (now Karnataka) in 1930 in India and moved with her family to Pakistan after partition. She has been celebrated as a distinguished writer, not just in Pakistan, but the region.

Bajia is the recipient of several international literary awards for literature and drama. She released her autobiography Aapki Bajia in 2012.

The playwright hails from a family that dabbled with various forms of art. Renowned satirist Anwar Maqsood and poet Zehra Nigah are her siblings. Another sister, Zubaida Tariq is a popular cook.

"After an early divorce, Bajia did not marry again and chose instead to look after her nine siblings," read an obituary in the national media Express Tribune.

Although, never formally schooled, Bajia excelled in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and English literature. She has been credited to have shaped contemporary literature in Pakistan.

Her writing focussed on women, children and most importantly dealt with themes of history and culture.

"She had an edge over her contemporaries through her knack for digging out classic old novels and adapting them for the screen," Pakistani actor Rahat Kazmi told the Express Tribune. "By doing this, she also made sure we Pakistanis remained in touch with our heritage and history," he added.

Her passing is mourned by the literati, readers and artists' community across the region.

First published: 11 February 2016, 5:58 IST
Ruchi Kumar @RuchiKumar

Ruchi Kumar is an Indian journalist living in Kabul with her cat Bukhari. On most days, she reports on the ongoings in the region. Rest of the time, she reads, writes and wanders around Kabul looking for people who will tell stories.