Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Fatima Surayya Bajia (1 September 1930 – 10 February 2016) was an Urdu novelist, playwright, and drama writer from Pakistan. She was awarded various awards at home and abroad including Japan’s highest civil award in recognition of her works.

Life and Career

Fatima Surayya Bajia was born on September 1, 1930, in Hyderabad, India. Although she did not attend a formal school, she was well-educated at home and became a pioneer for women in the fields of literature and the media. When the family moved to Pakistan following the partition with India, they brought with them a library containing several thousand books. These were trying times for the family and Bajia eventually took on the responsibility of raising her nine siblings—who included the painter, writer, and television personality Anwar Maqsood, the poet and screenwriter Zehra Nigah, and celebrity chef Zubaida Tariq—earning money by sewing dolls and designing clothes. She was renowned for her wit, wisdom, and elegant style—starched saris and a strand of pearls—reflected in today’s Doodle.

Bajia began her writing career with Pakistan’s Daily Jang in 1960. From there she started writing radio plays and working with PTV soon after the network was founded. After the success of her televised serial Auraq, she went on to write hundreds of popular plays and adaptations with a strong emphasis on women, children, and Urdu culture. Baija was known for spending long hours at work and taking a close interest in all details of production from set design to costume design and makeup.

Fatima Surayya Bajia passed away on February 10, 2016, in Karachi, Pakistan. Her death marked the end of an era for Pakistani literature and television. She left behind a legacy of impactful storytelling and a commitment to raising awareness about important social issues.

Award and Legacy

Fatima Surayya Bajia received numerous awards and accolades for her literary contributions. She was recognized for her dedication to promoting meaningful content on television and for her efforts to highlight social issues through her work. Some of the awards she received include the President’s Pride of Performance Award and the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, both of which are prestigious civilian honors in Pakistan.

Long enamored with Japanese literature, Baija wrote many haiku poems and received an award in Japan as well as numerous accolades in Pakistan, including the 1996 Pride of Performance Award and the 2012 Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Crescent of Excellence) presented by the President of Pakistan. Perhaps her greatest legacy is the women she inspired to follow in her footsteps. In the words of Pakistani actor Atiqa Odho. “Women like her opened doors for us.” In that respect Bajia was a “big sister” to many.

On 1 September 2018, Google celebrated Fatima Surayya Bajia’s 88th Birthday with a doodle.

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