Caravan: Rashid Jahan
Aamer Hussain documents an extensive article on the work of literary mentor and Urdu writer Rashid Jahan at Delhi-based Caravan magazine. This is a fascinating read, especially for a neophyte such as myself, who knows nada about Urdu literature. Also, curious to contemplate how this happens across many literary cultures, where work and the role an early voice played are buried and forgotten about. Click the paragraph to read the entire article.
1952. ISMAT CHUGHTAI HAD BEEN, for nearly a decade, the leading short story writer and novelist in the world of Urdu literature. But across the border in Pakistan, Qurratulain Hyder’s reputation as the disaffected chronicler of the generation lost to the tribulations of Partition was rapidly rising and would soon challenge Chughtai’s supremacy. In Lahore, Hijab Imtiaz Ali was turning to psychoanalytically inspired fictions about alcoholism and the Electra complex. Several other young, female Urdu short story writers, of a generation nurtured on the literature of the Progressive Writers’ Movement, were coming to maturity: Khadija Mastur, Hajra Masroor, Mumtaz Shirin, Shaista Ikramullah, Amina Nazli. And Rashid Jahan—doctor, political activist, Chughtai’s literary mentor and the forerunner of this entire wave of writers—died of cancer in a Russian hospital in July of that year, some weeks before her forty-seventh birthday, almost forgotten by the literary world she had stormed two decades before. Yet she had freed the tongues and the pens of several generations that followed; her impact would be surpassed only three decades later, by Fahmida Riaz and Kishwar Naheed, the feminist poets of the 1960s who replaced the forensic idiom of Rashid’s work with a lyrical celebration of women’s bodies.