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Ada Jafery

Updated: May 31, 2023

The First Lady of Urdu Poetry

Ada Jafarey was born on 22 August 1924 in the small city of Budaun, India, with the name Aziz Jahan. Her father left this world when she was only three years old. She was brought up by her mother in a conservative environment. She spent her childhood seized by unbreakable social chains. Brought up in a society where even expressing your emotions as a woman was considered taboo, nothing could stop Jafarey’s words from going out into the world. She repudiated all mocking eyes and compliments thrown at her and went the way her words took her.

At the tender age of 12, she picked up a pen and started writing under the name of Ada Jafarey. She was the first female Urdu poet to be published, and for this reason, people started to call her “The First Lady of Urdu Poetry”.

On 29th January 1947 in Lucknow, she married Nur-ul-Hassan, a civil servant in the Federal Government of India at that time. She moved to Karachi with her husband after the partition took place. Her mother and husband encouraged her despite everything and encouraged her not to be afraid of expressing herself. Although she was associated with different genres of literature, she was mostly known for being a ghazal writer.

Her ghazal ‘honthon pe kabhi unn ke mera naam bhi aey’ received a lot of appreciation and was later sung by Ustad Amanat Ali Khan. Here are some couplets from the ghazal:

Taaron se sajaa lein ge re shehr-e-tammana, Muqdoor nahin subah chalo shaam hi aey.

“We’ll decorate this city of desires with stars,

If he can’t come in the morning, then he can in the evening."

Kya raah badalne ka gila humsafron se, Jis reh se chale tere dar-o-baam hi aey

“I changed many roads from my comrades,

But whichever way I chose, I came back to your door.”

In another ghazal she writes:

“Khazeene jaan ke lutaane wale dilon mein basne ki aas le kar, Suna hai kuch loug aise guzre jo ghar se aaye na ghar gaye hain.”

“Those who spent treasures of their soul in the hope of settling in hearts,

I’ve heard that some people have passed whom neither came from home nor went there.”

About the hardships of being a mother, she wrote:

“Sadiyon se mere paoon tale Jannat insaan, Mein Jannat insaan ka pata pooch rahi hoon.”

“For centuries, paradise has been under my feet, oh you,

All whilst I’ve been searching for where heaven may be, oh you”

This symbolizes a concept from Islam, for Allah has ordained that Heaven, for a child, lies under the feet of their mother.

Ada Jafarey’s poetry is like a soft and warm blanket on a hard and wintry day. Every verse hits home and feels like the first rays of sun peaking through the branches of a tree on a cold morning. Sadness and hope are intermingled in each line. Ada Jafarey departed from this world on the unfortunate day of 12th March 2015 in a hospital in Karachi at the age of 90. Her death was indeed a big void in the world of Urdu poetry. May we never forget her, and may her soul rest in peace.


This blog has been penned by Miss Rida F. Baloch.

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