Renowned Pakistani poet, writer and activist Fahmida Riaz died on Wednesday evening in Lahore. Hailed by many as a pioneer of progressive and feminist literature, Fahmida was, inevitably, also criticised for taking up several subjects considered taboos.
In 1996, she wrote the poem “Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle” (“You turned out to be just like us”) which drew parallels between India and Pakistan over communalism. In 2000, she was invited to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for an Urdu poetry event, where she was allegedly attacked before she even finished performing the poem. The attackers were said to be two Army officers who thought the poem was criticising India.
She was invited back to Delhi a few years later to perform at another poetry symposium. She also went on to recite Tum Bilkul at other events, one of which was held in 2013 at Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a charitable trust against sex trafficking of women. The organisation also posted a video of her reciting the poem on their YouTube page.
Talking about the inspiration behind the poem to the Indian Express in 2015, Riaz said, “I had met a couple of Indian friends in Canada and they told me about the communal atmosphere of the country. The words came flying by.”