Nuzaira Azam’s New Novel “Anahita Ki Janam Basti’ Launched by Metropolitan Washington Literary Associations
By Zafar Iqbal, PhD
Presiding over the launching ceremony of Nuzaira Azam’s second novel Anahita Ki Janam Basti, eminent scholar Professor Satyapal Anand said that the author has beautifully described the political events in Pakistan in her book. He emphasized that Nuzaira, who has a strong journalistic background, presented the factual accounts of the situation in fictional form. He opined that writings based on facts acquire a document status. Dr Anand also traced the history of the word Anahita.
A number of academic and literary associations of Metropolitan Washington area collaborated in arranging the event at the Pohick Regional Library, Burk, Virginia on July 22, 2017. More than 120 Washington literati attended the ceremony in spite of several competing functions in the town.
Dr. Moazzam Siddiqi, former in-charge of the Language Service, Voice of America, affectionately referred to the author as a “walking encyclopedia,” and commented that Nuzaira’s novel represents the time when she had established herself as a mature and respected journalist in Pakistan. He added that the novel is full of interesting and factual anecdotes mirroring the situation of that time.
Abulhasan Naghmi, a veteran broadcaster, said that Nuzaira was perhaps one of the pioneer female journalists in a field dominated by males. He praised Nuzaira’s perseverance that helped other aspiring female journalists to traverse the path carved out by Nuzaira.
ObaidurRehman Siddiqui, a lawyer and prolific writer explored the connection between the heroine of the novel and the author.
Yusuf Rahat, a well-known poet, reechoed the sentiments expressed by the preceding speakers regarding Nuzaira’s frank and bold description of the then political situation in Pakistan.
Najmul Azam recollected the old times he spent with his sister, Nuzaira, and narrated personal accounts of the events they had witnessed together in Karachi and Islamabad.
Firoza Salahuddin drew the attention of the audience by presenting her comments in a light mood. She also lamented the current declining interest in books. She lamented that while books are sold on the footpath, shoes are kept in showcases in air-conditioned rooms.
Zulekha Yusuf recited a poem by Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi on the problems faced by females in the man’s world. She appreciated the dedication of the book by Nuzaira to her teacher and mentor, Dr Zakariya Sajid of the Journalism Department of the University of Karachi.
Speaking on the occasion, Nuzaira acknowledged the support she had received during the preparation of the book. She especially mentioned the guidance she received from Dr Moazzam Siddiqui in deciding the title of the book. On public request, she recollected the events that led to the idea of putting together those incidents in a book form. Describing the political and social situation at that time, she recalled the hurdles female professionals, including journalists, had to face. Such suffocating circumstances forced Anahita’s determination to express her views to the public, she added. She felt a bit relieved that the situation was changing and expressed the hope for further improvement.
Dr Zafar Iqbal, coordinator of the event, started the program by explaining the purpose of the assembly. The event was jointly sponsored by various academic and literary associations. The office holders of these organizations - the Aligarh Alumni Association of Metro Washington (Dr Mohammad Akbar), the University of Karachi Alumni Association (Aquil Ahmad), Halqa-e-Arbab-e-Zauq (Obaidur Rehman), the Society of Urdu Literature (Yasmin Naghmi), Urdu Academy of Maryland (Tahira Aziz) - welcomed the audience on behalf of their respective organizations.
Dr A. Abdullah, who is known in the community as the Sir Syed of Urdu culture in North America, showed his remarkable skills as the Master of Ceremony that included succinct introduction of speakers and maintaining the program flow beautifully in the allotted time. The event concluded with Dr Zafar Iqbal expressing his gratitude to the speakers and audience for their participation in the program.