Ada Jafri (22 August 1926 / Badayun, Uttar Pradesh / British India)
Biography of Ada Jafri
Ada Jafri (Urdu: ادا جعفری) real name Aziz Jahan, born in 1924 in Badayun, India, now lives in Karachi, Pakistan. She entered in poetry world as Ada Badayuni but after her marriage adopted Ada Jafri. She is without a doubt the first female poet from Pakistan who became famous in male dominated poetic world. The expressive value of her poetic art makes her a prominent figure in contemporary Urdu literature.
Birth and Early Life
Ada Jafarey was born in Badayun, UP, India on August 22, 1926 and was named Aziz Jehan by her mother. Ada was born in a traditional society where women were not allowed to think and express independently, but she was bold enough to express herself without inhibitions. Her poetic quest, which now spans over seven decades, started when she wrote her first verse at the age of 9 years. Encouragement in her childhood and early youth from her mother and then, after marriage, from her husband Nurul Hasan Jafarey kept her literary spark going.
Her individuality is not without social consciousness. She makes herself invisible from the art of poetic construction. Her personality is absent from her poetry. Her early life was spent in jealously-guarded boundaries.
Naturally, tradition was ingrained in her personality, but her individual talent could not surrender itself completely and she started taking interest in the rebellious world of modern art. For me, she is a genuinely modern sensibility. This unification of modern and traditional sensibility makes her significant for both the schools of thought. Her emotional depth finds expression in her poetry of unified sensibility. The expressive value of her poetic art makes her a prominent figure in contemporary Urdu literature.
But Ada Jafri could not resolve the conflict between tradition and modern sensibilities, and both trends weave themselves into her poetic art.
In addition to being the “First Lady of Urdu Poetry”, Ada Jafarey has also been a full time wife, mother, mother in law, grandmother and great grandmother.
She married Nurul Hasan Jafarey on January 29, 1947 in Lucknow, India. Nurul Hasan Jafarey, a Civil Servant, rose to the highest ranks in the federal government and was posted periodically in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore which is where the family and Ada’s writing also moved. Nurul Hasan Jafarey himself had a literary bent and was a frequent contributor to both Urdu and English newspaper columns. He also served as the President of the Anjuman e Taraqi e Urdu. Nurul Hasan, a major inspiration to Ada’s writing, passed away on December 3, 1995, two years short of their Golden Jubilee wedding anniversary.
Ada and Nurul Hasan have three children, Sabiha, Azmi and Aamir
Sabiha is married to Zubair Iqbal and is settled in Potomac, Maryland, USA. They have three children Sabah, Yusuf and Sameer.
Azmi and his wife Shua are now settled in Andover, Massachusetts, USA. They have two sons, Faaez and Aazim.
Aamir, the youngest son of Ada and Nurul Hasan married Maha and together with their daughter Asra lives with Ada Jafarey in Karachi. Asra is Ada’s youngest grandchild.
Ada has two great grandchildren, Sabine and Rizwan, children of Sabah and her husband Fuad.
She published her first book Main Saaz Dhundtee Rahee in 1950. In addition to an autobiography and research work, Ada has published five collections of poetry. Ada Jafarey has been recognized as the First Lady of Urdu poetry for her contributions.
Ada Jafarey was awarded the Adamjee Award in 1967 for her second poetic collection Shehr e Dard. In recognition of her work, the Government of Pakistan awarded her the Tamgha e Imtiaz in 1981. She received the Baba e Urdu Award from the Pakistan Academy of Letters in 1994, and the Qaid e Azam Literary Award in 1997. She was also the recipient of the Hamdard Foundation of Pakistan’s Certificate of Merit.
The Government of Pakistan conferred upon her the Pride of Performance Award for Literature in 2002. Ada Jafarey was the recipient of the Kamal e Fan Award for life time achievement in literature by the Pakistan Academy of Letters in 2003. She is the first woman recipient of the award since the literary prize was established by the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) in 1997.