Qurratulain Hyder is dead!

I have been upset the entire day. Perhaps it does not matter in the larger scheme of things. But this is a sad, sad day. Qurratulain Hyder, the literary giant of our times is no more. At a personal level it is not just the death of another literary figure but it is far greater and deeper than that. Ainee inspired generations of Urdu readers and there is not a single Urdu writer of post-independence era who has not been influenced by her.

Ainee had a civilizational consciousness that took us beyond the nation-state identities that we are so familiar with in our everyday lives. And, of course there was romance – the notion of eastern and Indic romance – that touched our lives. As I wrote earlier, that the way I have understood the world and perhaps parts of myself were deeply influenced by Ainee.

And now her death is a blow that this source of inspiration is not there anymore; as it is we are living in barren times where literature is about marketing and packaging and catering to consumers.

Ainee primarily wrote for herself but reached out and made her mark – and in the process she connected with millions of readers. And I am just one of them. My friends and I have talked today and we recounted how she shaped our inner lives.

I have at least avoided a regret – I met her after years of longing. Met her twice at her house in her frail state and enjoyed the hours. The impressions were indelible. Of course, the ambitious self had planned a meeting later this year.

But there will be nobody in that Noida house. That little temple opposite her house will remain and the sound of Azaan from a neighbouring mosque will also heard. But the hearty laughter, quick witted lines and inimitable writings will not be there.

However, as a friend said – writers die, their stories don’t -makes me a little content.

Farewell, Ainee Apa. May God keep you happy wherever you are..

Black and white photo is by Prashant Panjiar – the others were taken by me

This entry was posted in Arts & Culture, India, India-Pakistan History, Personal, South Asian Literature, Urdu, Urdu Literature, World Literature and tagged on by .

About admin

Raza Rumi is a freelance writer from Lahore, Pakistan. He regularly writes for the Pakistani weekly The Friday Times, The News and Daily DAWN on myriad topics such as history, arts, literatue and society. Raza blogs at Jahane Rumi - a website devoted to Sufi thought, the arts, literature, and cultures of South Asia. Raza also edits a cyber-magazine Pak Tea House; and compiles the Development Industry blog . Specialties: Raza is also regular writer at All Things Pakistan, Desicritics, and Global Voices. Raza has worked in Pakistan and abroad in various organizations including multilateral institutions such as the United Nations.

  • http://iditis.blogspot.com I Me My

    “Ainee had a civilizational consciousness that took us beyond the nation-state identities” … the mark of a true litterateur!
    I haven’t read any of her works, but I plan to change that!

  • RR

    Id: thanks for the comment. I am extremely sad as some writers become a part of you and your consciousness..
    Wish you could read the Urdu originals. But do read her own translations if and when you can

  • Faisal Malik

    In the dull skies of London, I am heartbroken by this very sad happening.

    Aakhir-e-shab kay humsafar Faiz najaney kya huay………..

    I feel something in me is dying too!

  • http://www.indscribe.blogspot.com Indscribe

    Through her novels the scent of an entire era, its culture and values, will permeate through generations for ages to come…Iqbal Majeed said today.

    Ek ahad-saaz shakhsiyat ka khaatma ho gaya. I wonder how much she had written in her series of works Kaar-e-Jahaan Daraz…which she was again writing lately.

  • aisha

    Dear Raza,

    what a loss. My own interest in urdu literature took root after reading Aag ka Darya. As if Qurut-ul- ain Haider personally came to me through her book and woke me from a deep slumber to the wonders of Urdu.In every sense of the word I became alive then and remained a devotee of her writings ever since. It feels like I have lost a dear friend. May she rest in eternal peace.


  • Amena Saiyid

    I knew her personally (as I was related to her) so it is rather shocking to learn that she has passed away. I met her twice, once in Lahore, and once at my grandmother’s house. and she left an indelible impression both times. She was so alive that it is hard to imagine she has passed away

  • http://shree-shrees.blogspot.com priya

    its very very sad .i read her book Aag ka Darya .my homage to this great writer who has inspired so many ….in this side of the border..
    May her noble soul rest in peace….

  • http://shree-shrees.blogspot.com priya

    RR can we have discussion how she has influnced all of us ,each one can contribute.you can start……..and then those who want to share their experience they can ..that will be our little tribute to her

  • http://www.the-apple-pathways.blogspot.com/ gulnaz

    that was a beautiful and heartfelt tribute!
    thanks for posting her story…i haven’t read her but she sounds like a fantastic writer.
    she lives in on her words and that is far more than most of us ever will.

  • http://baithak.blogspot.com/ temporal

    hazaarON saal nargis apni bay-noori pe…….

    inna lillah e….

    (don’t have proper words – excuse me)

  • http://wishsubmission.wordpress.com Manas Shaikh

    I am as yet half-literate in Urdu. I’m trying to change that. Then I’ll read that.

  • Osama Siddique

    It is very sad day indeed. What a phenomenon she was. I can’t think of anyone in contemporary literature who comes even close. What a remarkable insight into individual lives and entire epochs she brought to her writing; and then what exquisite language she had at her beckoning. Will Aaag ka darya be surpassed in the future? Well it is highly unlikely but not impossible. Will Aag ka darya ever become jaded or irrelevant? That, I believe, is clearly in the realm of the impossible. I mourn the passing on of a truly great one. I will continue to rejoice in what she has left behind — so much and so sublime.

  • Harris Khalique

    i agree with osama that no one comes close. i met her in london a few times and i cherish each and every moment of those meetings. what a loss.

    yeah ishq nahin aasaan bas itna samajh leejay
    ek aag ka darya haiy aur doob ke jana haiy

  • http://shueyb.wordpress.com Shueyb Gandapur

    For quite some time, the feeling kept haunting me that the time for QH’s departure was imminent. Finally, the sad day came and she left us for good. Despite the impossibility of circumstances, I had a great desire to meet her some day, while she was a living legend. The first short-story of her that I read, I found it so engrossing that I made a resolve to read all her works. Though, I am far short of fulfilling that resolve, whatever little I have read of her has left a deep influence on me and changed some of my perceptions of the world and life. Thanks to her name and mention, and the orkut community on her, I also got introduced and acquainted with some great people, significant of them being the owner of this blog.

    RR, let me offer my condolences to you.

  • http://thedelhiwalla.blogspot.com Mayank Austen Soofi

    I live in Delhi. I’m from Delhi. My home is quite close to NOIDA. I could never take out time to meet her. It is now too late.

  • Sajid Baloch

    I read Aag ka darya at 16 and understood half of it. But even that half inspired me so much…

  • http://nil vidya rao

    A whole era comes to an end with the passing of someone like Qurratulain Haider. Aag ka Darya is an incredible novel, which I could only read in translation. But even in translation it has such power and such an epic sweep. Thank you for your beautiful and moving tribute to a great artist, and a great human being.

  • RR

    Dear friends
    many thanks for leaving the comments on this post – Ainee Apa will continue to live in her stories …

  • http://- zafar haider

    yes of course a great loss to the lovers of urdu literature.

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  • Subhash Parihar

    I consider Quratulain Hyder’s Aag Ka Darya as one of the best ten works of modern Indian literature written in any language.

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  • saleem islam

    I wish I had asked (and pestered) my mother about Ainee; she knew her personally as they both were contemporaries at Lucknow University. However, post-’47 I think they hardly ever got to meet, because my parents (and I) spent a lot of time abroad on account of my father’s foreign postings.
    But I do recall my mother (passed away Year 2000) going off to meet her in Karachi, once … it’s a regret that I didn’t try and learn all that I could from their association.
    Least I can do now is introduce my kids to this GIANT of a human being, and hope they take it on themselves to become genuine admirers of Ainee.