Photo, courtesy of NDTV
Urdu writer Qurratulain Hyder passes away
Very sad news, and sadder still for me: in April I squandered the only chance to meet her. Shan-e-Panjab was making its final stops before entering Delhi. Whereas the train was delayed now that we were very close to our final destination, the arrival time in Delhi could be predicted with more accuracy. I called Qurratul Ain Hyder on the number I had from Dr. Asad. The call did not go through--I was told I did not have the correct number. Fortunately, I had Dr. Asad's cell number as well. I called him and jogged his memory on my email communication with him. He remembered, and was congenial, but he did not have any other number of Qurratul Ain Hyder besides the one he had given me via email. He knew where she lived and could give me that address. But I needed a telephone number. I had been told QAH was not too fond of meeting strangers. I wanted to talk to QAH first, assure her of my absolute love of her writing, of my conviction that 'Aag Ka Durya' was the greatest novel ever written in Urdu; and then ask her if she would be charitable to accord me audience. But none of this could happen till I had a working telephone number of Ms Hyder.
And then came a moment of weakness. I was there for just two days, and then there was that Taj Mahal that needed to be visited.
Yes, Ms Hyder is old and ailing, but she would be around for a while, and I will meet her in my next visit. I told myself.
Qurratul Ain Hyder, You touched countless through your writings, but left the world without meeting this die-hard fan of yours. He would still visit you at your grave, to shed a few tears, but it would have been a lot better had you stayed alive just a little longer.