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Mohtarma Parveen Shakir

Updated: May 29, 2023


Mohtarma Parveen Shakir

Parveen Shakir made a name for herself in the Urdu literary world when it was a male-dominated field. Her prominence led to unending criticism and many unhappy faces upon hearing her name. But that could not stop her from unleashing her beautiful words presented as ghazals out into the world. She became a well-renowned icon in no time, and the name “Parveen Shakir” started reverberating through Urdu Adab (literature). Everyone interested in Urdu shayari has heard her name and read her ghazals. She described human emotions from a female point of view and never hesitated to write her heart out on paper. She was honest, bold, and beautiful when molding her words.

Coming to her personal life, Parveen Shakir was born on 24 November 1952. She was born into a middle-class home. She had started writing at a rather young age. Her first writings were columns in local Urdu newspapers, which later started getting acknowledged on a large scale due to the touch of prose and poetry. She wrote under the pen name Beena. By age 25, she had made a name in the literary society and appeared in many television shows and mushaaira’s. In 1976, she wrote her first book titled “Khushboo” meaning fragrance which people widely acclaimed. Khushboo was written from a young girl’s point of view who is innocent, playful, and hopelessly romantic. Still, with time, her other writings show her development into an intelligent and charismatic woman.

Like any other Pakistani middle-class household dream, Parveen’s parents married her to a man against her will so that she could settle in and live a happy and normal life which was quite an opposing lifestyle compared to Parveen’s personality. Her marriage led to her separation from her long-term lover, who was said to be willing to give up his life to be with her. As a result, her marriage couldn’t work long enough, resulting in a bitter divorce. She was left alone to be a single mother, which is considered taboo in Pakistani society. Her struggles were often eclipsed in the poetry she wrote.

Her writing style depicts unrequitable love, gender inequality, separation, sadness, longing, and female role in a misogynistic society. She was never hesitant when writing about how a female perceives these emotions. Besides these topics, she often wrote about capitalism, poverty, and many other socially important topics. Her poem “steel mills worker,” which describes the life of labor working in a factory, ends with the following heart-wrenching lines:

Lekin shayed usko ye nahin maloom, Ke khudkhushi ke iss muhaahiday par, Uss ne bakaaimi hosh-o-hawaas dastakhat kiye hain, Iss bhatthi ka indhan darasal wo khud hai.

Translated as:

But perhaps he doesn’t know this, That upon this contract of suicide, He has willingly put his signature, He himself is the fuel to this furnace.

Parveen Shakir qualified for CSS in 1986. It is said that when she appeared in the exam hall, the exam included a question related to her poetry.

On the rainy day of 26th December 1994, an accident occurred on the Margalla Road in Islamabad, now known as the “Parveen Shakir Road,” which took away from us one of the finest and most intelligent feminine voices in Urdu literature. Her car crashed into a bus. Her death spread quickly, and all her fans, friends, and colleagues gathered to pay her the last goodbye. Her last column in the Jang was on the topic of death.

She wrote:

Mar bhi jaoon tou kahan log bhula hi dein ge, Lafz mere, mere hone ki gawahi deinge

Translated as:

Even if I die, how will people ever forget me? My words shall give proof of my existence.

May we never forget her and her soul rest in peace and harmony.


 

This blog is the courtesy of Miss Rida Fareed.


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