Sajida Zaidi, distinguished Indian educationist and celebrated Urdu poet and writer, passed away on March 9, 2011 at the age of 84 in Dubai.
An alumnus of the Institute of Education, University of London, Professor Zaidi was among the few progressive women intellectuals of pre-Partition India. She had a long and distinguished career at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), retiring as Head of Department of
Education in 1986, and also served on the University Grants Commission, National Council for Educational Research and Training’s Organizing Committee and the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, among a host of others eminent national service positions.
Despite being totally at home with English, she chose Urdu as her medium of creative expression. Between 1962 and 2000, she published five collections of poems in Urdu, “Joo-e-Naghma”, “Aatish-e-Sayyal”, “Sail-e-Wajood,”, “Aatish Zer-Pa”, and “Parda Hai Saaz Ka”. She also wrote two novels in Urdu, “Mauj-e-Hawa Pecha” and “Mitti Ke Haram”.
Her poetic dramas and works of literary criticism are held in high esteem by the literati and readers alike.
Sajida Zaidi’s deeply philosophical, reflective poetry, imbued with the pathos of the Urdu tradition re-imagined with surrealist imagery has been translated into English, Russian, Oriya, Marathi and Hindi. Her autobiography will be published posthumously.
Among the several awards and honours she received were the “Imtiaz-e-Mir” award for poetry and literary achievement, the Sydney Literary Society Award for poetic excellence and the Bahadur Shah Zafar Award from the Delhi Urdu Academy or her overall contribution to Urdu language and literature.
The great granddaughter of pioneering 19th Century educationist Maulana Altaf Husain Hali, she is survived by two sons and two daughters, eleven grand children and one great-grandson.