The First Feminist Urdu Writer

Zoovia Hamiduddin in Dawn:

Mirza Azeem Baig Chughtai has been maligned, misunderstood and pigeonholed as a humourist — which indeed he was; his short stories ‘Yakka’ and ‘Al Shizri’ have been immortalised by the rendition of the legendary Zia Mohyeddin. But other erroneous theories about him have also been made. In ‘Literary Notes: Azeem Baig Chughtai, Sadomasochist or Playful Humourist?’ published in Dawn on Aug 22, 2016, for example, Rauf Parekh considered speculation by literary stalwarts Dr Muhammad Sadiq and Dr Vazeer Agha who believed Chughtai suffered from “depression” and was a “sadomasochist”. Not so. The tantalising title of the piece aside, Parekh rightfully stated that these writers were being “perhaps, all too unsympathetic.”

Parekh references Chughtai’s sister, the author Ismat Chughtai, as saying that her brother was irreverent towards many traditional ideas. Thus, in looking past the obvious humour in his writings, it becomes clear that Chughtai was, in fact, one of the earliest proponents of feminism in the subcontinent.

More here.