‘Baki sab to Khurafat thi’- An evening with Begum Masroor Jahan

“किरदार तो होते ही हैं के अफसानो में आएं” – बेगम मसरुर जहाँ 
“Characters are meant to be woven into stories” Begum Masoor Jahan

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The sari clad beautiful Begum Masroor Jahan was the center of attraction in the ‘Conversations’ event organized by Delhi based literary gift company BooksEtc on August 4, 2018.The monthly event was attended by people from all walks of life including college students, university professors and people from media. The Begum with her quirky sense of humor is an epitome of inspiration for the people who want to learn the art of liveliness and grace. With more than 500 short stories and 65 Novels, she is the recipient of HT Woman of the year award, Waqar-e-Awadh and many honors by Urdu Academy. The loving ‘Amma’ started writing when she was 7 years old. Though she was married to Nawab Syed Mohammad Murtuza Ali Khan at an early age and couldn’t complete her matriculation, her zest for writing was unstoppable. She recounted when after marriage her father came to know about her published stories, he asked, “Ye kab hua” (When did it happen), to which she wittingly replied,”Abba! Ye to bahot pehle ho chuka”(Father! It happened long back).Contrary to contemporary mindset about marriage being a source of restriction,Begum saw it as a medium for  attaining freedom and as an opportunity to be able to continue her career as a writer.In fact her first novel ‘Rubina’ was published post marriage.Like many western women writers,Begum also began writing under the pen names like ‘Naza Ruhi’, ‘Lata Parveen’ to be able to hide her identity while pursuing her writing career. She clearly states that in their times it was out of respect for elders that certain rules were followed; ‘Dar key maiyne they ehtram bado ka’ (Meaning of Fear was respect for the elders)

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While talking about her contemporary writer Ismat Chughtai whom she lovingly called ‘Aapa’ (Elder sister),she says,”Aapa jab aati thi to ghar ki roz marha ki zindagi ki hi batein hoti thi”(Whenever Aapa came she talked about household chores).She recalled a sentence said my Ismat, “Sabse pehle mai aurat hoon”(First of all I am a woman).Begum’s trove of creations vividly captures the Awadhi Tehzeeb and revolves around the people she had met in her life.While questioned about her source of inspiration she smiled and said, “Ama! Hum to roti banante banate hi inspire ho jate they”
(I used to get inspired even while making rotis).The tete-a-tete with the jovial Begum concluded on a motivational note followed by a relaxing cup of tea.

“Ro aap akele bhi sakte hi ho
Haste magar aap mehfil me hi ho”
– Begum Masroor Jahan

Report by Madiha Musarrat
Picture Credit- Shah Ali Faisal

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