Celebrating Fahmida Riaz in Delhi

Fahmida Riaz-Delhi prog

Post updated to add the programme just received from Delhi; gratified that it includes the poem I posted here earlier, “Palwashe Muskurao”.

Great to know that friends in Delhi are organising this wonderful event to commemorate the great poet Fahmida Riaz – Fahmida Khala to me, she called my father Sarwar Bhai. I love the poem of hope and inspiration she recited, Palwashe Muskurao (Palwasha, smile), at the commemoration we organised for him and the student movement he led. Here’s information about the upcoming event in Delhi, fittingly, on Valentine’s Day, that I put together for the Aman Ki Asha website.


Happenings Fahmida Riaz-Delhi-Feb 2019

What: ‘Transcending Boundaries, Defying Taboos:
The Poetry of Fahmida Riaz’

When: Thursday, 14 February 2019, 6.30 pm
Where: India Habitat Centre, Delhi
Who: Open and free to the public
Co-hosted by the PIPFPD and India Habitat Centre.


Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle
Ab tak kahan chhupey they bhai!

(You have turned out to be just like us
Where were you hiding till now, brothers!)

Fahmida Riaz wrote her prescient poem in 1996 when the BJP first emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha. When she recited it nearly twenty years later before an Indian audience in April 201, “it carried a weight equal to the history of South Asia itself” say members of the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace & Democracy.

PIPFPD had organised a public interaction of Fahmida Riaz with the Indian feminist author, Urvashi Bhutalia, in April 2014, just a month before the new government took oath in India, May 2014.


Syeda Hameed

By then, Fahmida Riaz was virtually a household name in the sub-continent. The masses in Pakistan and India knew her better than many in the world of academia and the arts. “She carried intellectual honesty and steadfast courage to speak truth to power as if it is absolutely ordinary things to do – against a generation that was trying not to follow such ideals”, comments the PIPFPD in a statement announcing an upcoming event to commemorate the poet in Delhi.

“When she passed away on 21 November 2018, at the age of 72 in Lahore, she was peaceful. But surely not happy. People like her cannot rest in peace since the tasks they leave behind are many, agonies many more. Let us remember and celebrate her, but also recount her concerns – about peace, democracy, rights and dignity – most importantly about women and the gender equality movement…”, says the statement released by the organisation’s general secretary Vijayan M. J.


Tapan Bose

The event titled ‘Transcending Boundaries, Defying Taboos: The Poetry of Fahmida Riaz’ will be held on Thursday, 14 February 2019 at the India Habitat Centre, Delhi, aiming to “bring people together in love and resilience”.

Organisers are expecting several of the poet’s “esteemed Indian and probably a couple of Pakistani friends”.

The event will feature poetry, conversations, performances in a three-hour session “dedicated to our dear friend and comrade, who was a true South Asian”, say PIPFPD India co-chairpersons Dr Syeda Hameed and Tapan Bose.


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