Glowing tributes to Bajia

Salahuddin Haider

The city of Karachi reminded the countrymen Thursday that it was not just a revenue source for their welfare, but an invaluable centre for art, culture, tradition and values, a city which has often given birth to historic and epoch making events.
And a prove of this, if prove is at all needed, came this Thursday, Feb 9, when Fatima Surraya Bajia’s first death anniversary was observed at the Arts Council of Pakistan, an institution, which has grown tremendously in size and stature, and is now being treated as jewel in the crown, decorating the heads of residents of the port city.
Simultaneously, yet another remarkable event went on at the Beach Luxury Hotel, which for the 8th time in as many years, has been playing host to an epoch making event like the Karachi Literature Festival, where poets, novelists, writers and intellectuals gather from different parts of the world to exchange notes on their works and thus contribute to peace, goodwill and understanding the world has now been afflicted with.
While the auditorium of the Arts Council flowed with eminent personalities, like drama artistes of TV and stage, directors, producers, novelists, painters, fans and connoisseurs and fans of fine arts. Swiss consulate general stole the limelight by pre-launching an exhibition of paintings from young artistes to launch a crusade against hunger in the world.
Both these events will long be remembered for their greatness. The Karachi Literature Festival was formally launched on Friday afternoon at its set venue, and had already attracted several key figures from different regions of the world. It will last till Feb 12, but a treasure house of knowledge will flow from it during the three days.
The function at the Arts Council was something truly great in characteristics. Arts Council President Ahmad Shah, whose contribution in building this institution into something really great, deserved praise for conducting a show which must have been possible after repeated reviews. Speakers after speakers like Huma Mir, Shahzad Raza, Ayaz Khan, Qudsia Nisar, great drama producer of PTV fame, Iqbal Latif, Bajias’s younger sister Zubeda Tariq,a household name, Zaheer Khan, and Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) chief Shamim Firpo, recalled their moments of pleasure with her, reminding the audience that Bajia was a ‘jagat Bajia’ (jagat being a hindi work, but Urduised now, carrying connotation of eminence)
A living legend in life time, and now will glitter in the history pages of Urdu and Japanese literature, not for years, decades, but perhaps for centuries, and if today or tomorrow, a book of 10 to 15 laureate is published Bajia’s name will be in that, not in pages of books normally published of 100 great personalities of the work. Such was her stature. She took Urdu literature to heights of pristine glory. Her masterpieces may have been many but few of these were acknowledged by the banner, displayed at the specially erected dais at the audititorium. These were her plays, names being ‘Afshaan’,’Uroosa’, ‘Shama’, ‘Zeenat’, ‘Aabgeenay’,’Darya Kinare’,’Sasssi Punoon’, ‘Ghar Ek Aangan’. Her works would be lessons for centuries for students of fine arts, and playwrights.
Yet another compliment paid to her by the Arts Council in its backdrop was naming as ‘intellectual, generous and kind-hearted’, which she undoubtedly was. She was loving and affectionate to everyone, even her worst enemy or critic. She extended nothing but love and affection to friends and foes alike. Anyone meeting her once, became her admirer and fan for life time. That was Bajia.
A suggestion was mooted that instead of observing her death anniversary, from the next year the day should be celebrated as tribute to her greatness, for she was not only national asset, but a treasure house for literary world, beyond borders. Ahmad Shah readily accepted that suggestion.
The Karachi Literature Festival formally started Friday afternoon, and will continue for two more days, till Feb 12, during which world known writers, artists, novelists, thinkers, painters will exchange notes to make this earth peaceful, and a place worth living by promoting understanding and goodwill among the people of different regions and hemispheres.
However the Swiss consul general Philippe Crovoisier thought it fit to advance the show by an evening of arts exhibition from some 63 students of Indus Valley School, and Universities of Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. The title ‘We the peoples,We the Art’ meaning a crusade against hunger through communication that could create awareness to rid the earth of evil afflicting it. In his speech he thanked the UN, the Oxford University Press, and several others who had helped it turn a reality. In her brief remark, the Managing Director of Oxford University Press, Amina Syed, a committed and dedicated lady who has devoted her life to spreading of knowledge and providing quality books for enthusiast and book lovers, reiterated her mission to continue.

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