Fatema Khatun
 
     
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Fatema Khatun

In the world of Assamese poetry, poetess Fatema Khatun is a familiar name. Born in 1927, at Nagaon this poet established herself as a poet with her courage and sincere efforts, not getting defeated by the struggles of life.

Habibur Rahman who belonged to the historically famous Persian ‘Padhiya’ pedigree was her father Rahunri alias Laxkhimi was her mother. The ancestor of Persian Padhiya Pedigree, Haji Anowar Shah Fakir came to Assam from Delhi in 1702. The letters which came from Badshah of Delhi were translated into Assamese and read out to the Ahom King by Anowar Shah. The Ahom King constructed a Mosque in present day Kumarpara of Guwahati. The Mosque was famous as Persian Padhiya Mosque. It is said that being pleased with haji Anowar Shah Fakir, Ahom Swargadeo Laxsmi Narayan Singh had given Powa Mecca of Hajo and Pancha Pir Dargah of Kshetri by making a deed.

Late Habibur Rahman was not only an efficient government official. Keeping the family tradition, he became proficient in Urdu, Arabic and Perisian language by practicing it, he sang gazals and he also used to write. It is also known that the forefather of this family Hazi Anowar Fakir also wrote a Koran by hand and gilded with melted gold. But this rare property got lost when it was taken by an educationist of Guwahati from the new mosque of Natun Balibat, Jorhat.

Though Fatema Khatun was not able to get English education in school or College as she had to be under the purdah system of conservative Muslim Society, yet by easily overcoming the confusion of the crisis and hesitation she learnt Hindi till ‘Prabesh’ and learnt Urdu and Arabic in the Madrassa of Guwahati. Khatun had a little English education only after marriage from Alen, a teacher who taught in Jorhat Higher Secondary School though she faced problems in her personal life.

Khatun’s married life was not happy. Her husband’s injustice and misconduct made her life under able. Getting perturbed by the domestic restlessness, when she came to her parent’s home in Jorhat in the state of physical illness, her husband married for the second time. She became grief- stricken by such act of her husband and with that her unhappy married life also came to an end. Since then Falema Khatun has been living in her father’s home in Bahadur Gaonburdha Path of Jorhat along with her daughter Asrifa and sister Musrifa. Fatema Khatun is the glaring example of how the environment and situation help a person to make oneself and established one.

Khatun was interested in writing poems since her student days. Her first poem ‘Netriwa’ (Leadership) was published in ‘Jeuti’, a magazine published from Jorhat, Government Boys School. The editor of ‘Jeuti’ was the distinguished literature Dimbeswar Neog. Her second poem ‘Kalpit Sansar’ was published in this magazine only. She dedicated herself wholeheartedly in the literary world not losing mental equilibrium after her divorce. Higher degrees are not necessary to express one’s mental distress and agitation. One only needs mental strength and accomplished flow of thoughts. Her first anthology of poems, Agnirekha was the creation of such quality of Khatun. The foreword to ‘Agnirekha’ written by Neog had immensely inspired Khatun.

Her poems, articles etc were occasionally published in the women’s Section of ‘Weekly Janambhuni’. Her articles for children were also published in Childrens Section. She had contributed for the development of children by founding ‘Shanti Kami’ Maina Parijat. She worked to her capacity as a member of Jorhat Maina Parijat.

Khatun’s articles were published in ‘Dainik Assam’ and ‘Asom Bani’. Apart from that her poems- ‘Bapuji, Bhul Matho Ajane Nakare’ and the story ‘Milan’, written on the theme of harmony between Hindu and Muslim were published in ‘Abhijatri’, a magazine published by All Assam Pradeshik Mahila Samiti. Her different writings were also published in the journals such as ‘Jowar’, ‘Minar’, Udayan’, ‘Jagriti’, ‘Sonowali’, ‘Sangram’ ‘Arohan’, ‘Insalf’ and in Dainik Janambhumi’. The foreword of ‘Ruplekha’, an anthology of poem was written by Syed Abdul Mailik. Her poem ‘Sowarani’ which was a tribute to Hari Prasad Neog was published in the souvenir ‘Samalay’ published by Jorhat Sahitya Sabha. Khatun presented a poem titled ‘Nari’ (woman), in the first convention of poets under the auspices of All India Radio, Guwahati. By participating in the poet’s convention organized by the All Assam Lekhika Samaroh Samiti, she expressed her love for this organization. She published the half-yearly magazine ‘Insaf’ in 1950 by editing it herself.

Smti Khatun is not only a poet and a writer, but also a renowned women organizer. In the year 1950, she organized the Muslim women and celebrated the birth day of Hazarat Mohammed, ‘Fateha-ye-Dewaji- Daham’ for the first time by women and made it a practice of yearly celebration. She demanded the due right to property for the exploited, deprived women and she also wanted remedies for such maladies by system she came out to protest. Joining Mahila Samiti, Jorhat Sahity Sabha and other such organizations, she came forward forcefully overcoming the obstacles to change the society. She has been working for the welfare of the society by getting involved with various organizations. Ever since she was separated from her husband, she has been struggling for the redressed against the injustice done by man towards women. She seeks due right and the human rights of women through her writing and through women organization.

Presently Smti Khatun is a life member of Assam Sahitya Sabha. Every year she participates in the Sahitya Sabha convention representing Jorhat Sahitya Sabha. She was felicitated in the poet’s convention of Sahitya Sabha held in Dumduma in 1989. This writer was felicitated by Titabor Lekhika Samaroh Samiti. She was also felicitated by Jorhat Yuva Chatra Parishad, Nari Sangtha, Jorhat, District Mahila Samity Jorhat Women Organization and other such organizations.

Intending to discuss about the literary activity of this born poet, story writer Syed Abdul Malik has written, "The number of Assamese women poet in Assamese literature is pathetically limited. The number of Muslim women poet is evens more pathetically few. In such a situation, Fatema Khatun, the one time editor of ‘Insaf’, has been self- less engaged in writing, though she was entangled in the problems of her personal life.

The poet has won the heart of the readers while trying to portray the sorrows and sufferings, hopes and aspirations of the needy and down- trodden people of the society whom she met on her journey of life.

Imbibed with patriotism, the poet has appealed to the upcoming young generation to be strong with moral power. Uprooting the corruption and an evil from the society, with an urge to move the society ahead with a strong leadership, the poet writes-

"If you are the leader of the genuine path

If you want to bind all with a new bonding-

Then don’t make mistake at every step

Build the society, with new strength".

(‘Leadership’)

The poet Fatema Khatun has projected Indian women in a unique form by her pen which is mightier than the sword. Expressing the virtues and fame of the great women such as Sadhani, Jaymati, Mulagabharu, Nurjahan, Rajia, Mumtaz, Kanaklata, she writes in her poem, "The Women’;

‘I will make shine in hundred form

The new look

Demanding the self- identity

I will wait forever,

This way in this world

I will show the competence’

(The Women’)

The poet who seeks the due rights for women has designated women to be the great power of the world.

The poet who was deprived of love of her husband during her youth, has started clearly the indomitable longing for two lives becoming one-

You are the sky, I am the sea

Both of us are blue

Within my vision

Your image

Will shine forever

Whether you are blue or I

No trace will be there’.

(You are the sky I am the sea’)

The sense of lyricism is observed in some in poems of Fatema Khatun. In the forward to "Ruprekha’ and Syad Abdul Mailik has reiterated the English poet Shelley’s immortal lines in connection with Fatema Khatun’s poems;

‘Miserable men are wrought into poetry by wrong

They learn in suffering what they teach in song.

Though the poet was weakened by the struggles of the family life, yet she had immense strength of mind. Khatun’s strong feelings of distress against the selfish group who caused obstacles in the path of establishing herself is expressed through the poem-

Oh! The judge the director

Old world’s new people

Oh! The judge-

The inclusive rules of injustice

By breaking and throwing

Will you be able to judge?

Don’t you have the ability?

(Question’)

Seeing that the freedom of her country is endangered, the poet writes with regret-

Where is Assamese Maniram, Bahadur

(The village headman) today

Where is the heroic group full of blood today?

Where is the heroic mighty woman today?

The devoirs flame of that burns in the heart today.

The lamp of Assam is extinguished, the country is destroyed

The flame of revolt is ignited ages after ages

A handful of revolutionaries are the only resource of the country.

In the poem ‘The Retreat’, the poet has found such a link in the universe.

The poet has written poems with strong tone without compromising about those exploiting class of the society and those who degraded womanhood. But her tone seems to somewhat weakened in the poem ‘Destroyed Dream’ which was published in ‘Anubhunti’. The poet has mentioned-

"Alas! The dream to live is lost

I go do sailing boat in the river of mind

Speechless and motionless

Seeking the dream in the form of blue sky

The sleepless night-

The imaginary picture of hope in the heart

The destroyed region of lush- green crops

It is the witness to the death of an ocean, the sorrowful shade

Whose curse is this, whose injustice is this?

Many books of Fatema Khatun are not yet published. Her anthology of poems, ‘Smritirekha’, a religious book titled ‘Jyotirekha’ and a short play ‘Jaymati in Heaven’ are unpublished.

The easy, simple language and expression have given a beauty of its own to Fatema Khatun’s writing. She is a social worker, writer and a children literature. This writer who could not be shaken by any obstacle is our source of inspiration.

 

 
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