Thursday, February 11, 2016

A larger than life Personality Fatima Suriya Bajia


An old lady with white hair, who wore beautiful sarees, who gave warm hugs and who could speak the most perfect Urdu... was Fatima Surraya Bajia.

When ever I saw her picture on the news media she reminded me of my maternal grandmother. I have the privilege of meeting her. She knew the art of making everyone comfortable around her.She was distantly related to my grandparents who migrated from a small town in UP India named Badayun. Bajia"s family moved to Hyderabad Deccan from Badayun and settled there. In 1948 after riots started in Hyderabad the family moved to Karachi.

She was a gifted writer but few people know that she never attended a school or college. She was home schooled by the elders in her family. After migrating to Pakistan her father and grandfather died within few years. The responsibility of raising 10 children came on the shoulders of her mother and Bajia being the eldest helped her what ever she could. They sew dolls in traditional dresses which were sold in the Gul-e-Rana Centre started by Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan. Later on the Bajia and her younger sister Sughra who were experts at stitching "ghararas" started perhaps the first bridal boutique in the city of Karachi.The two sisters along with their mother stitched ghararas for clients.

Mrs Sughra Kazmi and her daughter in law Bunto Kazmi( who was another sister Sarah Naqvi"s daughter) are still to this day are regarded as the most esteemed bridal designers in Pakistan.

Bajia started writing TV dramas for Pakistan television in the 60s. Her dramas focused on the Muslim culture and heritage of the sub-continent. Shama,Afshan,Ana,Aroosa are few of her popular dramas. She was also on the advisory board of PECHS College Karachi and Karachi Arts Council. Many of her dramas were translated in Japanese and she was also awarded the highest civil award of Japan.

She never had any children of her own and considered her younger siblings as her children. Her brother Anwer Maqsood is a popular tv personality and artist. Another brother Ahmed Maqsood was a famous Bureaucrat. Sughra Kazmi is a designer, Zehra Nighah is a famous poet who also worked in BBC. The youngest sister Zubaida Tariq is regarded as the Culinary Queen of Pakistan who teaches cooking on various networks.

Fatima Suraya Bajia was more than a motherly figure for the citizens of Pakistan. She was an institution, a human rights activist who tried to help everyone around her. Fatima Surayya Bajia’s timeless work and contribution for urdu literature and for Pakistan television will remind us how a tiny frail lady without any formal degree was able to teach us so much...