Bhrigu's question

कभी जो याद भी आता हूँ मैं तो कहते हैं के आज बज़्म में कुछ फ़ित्ना-ओ-फ़साद नहीं - मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब

Location: the valley, California, United States

Bay Area, Strategy Manager, Haas- U. C. Berkeley, Marathons

Monday, October 03, 2005

Akhtar dearest

The current edition of the Annual of Urdu Studies has translations of intimate letters written by Safiya Akhtar to her husband Jan Nisar in the period 1952-53. The link to the PDF file is here.

These letters refer to the period when he moved from Bhopal to Mumbai to try his luck as a film lyricist. She suffered arthritis and an unknown disease (probably cancer) during this period and died in 1953. Although she is known as "the wife of Jan Nisar, sister of Majaz and mother of Javed Akhtar", she had a Master's degree in Education, had progressive views and was a woman of independent means.

The letters made me admire her more than JNA. She seems to come across as very strong-willed and single minded, who undertook may sacrifices for his sake as well as for their children. It is quite clear that she forsook an opportunity to continue her studies in the US. Clearly, she consistently asks him to be strong - not the other way around. It is rather apparent that he had to submit to indignities in the Mumbai film world in order to gain employment. She comes across as a much better person than him.

While I tend to believe that personal letters should remain personal, letters written by/to famous personalities are often published in the west for reasons that have much to do with historical documentation. We often get a glimpse of the real person behind the printed/televised-persona that we have easy access to. Hence, for the sake of history these letters are interesting. [Not that JNA was a towering historical figure.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, just to add that "ONE BOOK" alone doesn't do justice to a person, whatever you said about safiya akhtar is true, but whatever little you understood( from her letters ) JNA is not true at all.

You did not know safiya akhtar the person, I did, and you probably did not know JNA either, I DID, and I know that he had a tough choice at every step, here is one writer, who dying every moment knowing that he is capable of much much more acclaim then the ordinary 2 penny poets and writers..., well the least said the better, its hard to fit somebody in the show size you have in your closet .

10:27 AM  
Blogger Sid Rush said...

Sid Rush USA
Read those letters and cried.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The letters are heart rendering . Safiya Akhtar was an educated working woman who supported her husband emotionally and financially, while taking care of 2 children in his absence , as he struggled to make a place for himself in movie industry . Her love for him is touching - so complete , so pure . He must be a good man to have the abiding love of a woman like Safiya

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These letters are very insightful , inspiring and touching .
To get to know a Highly educated Muslim woman of pre independence era who married a man of his choice is so unexpected . Then one learns that she was as strong , liberated and capable as any modern woman - and most amazing thing of all - loved her husband unconditionally . Love that set him free to follow his destiny, while she look care of all the worldly affairs , children and most uniquely - the finances ; while struggling with ill health and ultimately dying without seeing her husband . Can there be a better example of love ? Her husband must be a good and worthy man to deserve such devotion . What I liked most about the letters is getting to know her .

8:52 AM  

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