RAZIA SIRAJUDDIN A WOMAN OF MANY DIMENSIONS
LOST IN THE HISTORY OF LAHORE
A FAITHLESS SOCIETY FORGET HEROS AND HEROINES
The name Razia Sirajuddin always intrigued me. All people related to my father, made me think of them again and again. Razia Sirajuddin wrote notes and one Introduction to the book CHUGHTAIS PAINTINGS in 1939. Pitras Bokhari had suggested to M.A. Rahman Chughtai her name for this venture, and although Razia Sirajuddin was reluctant to do so, she consented while on a holiday trip to Simla. Today these notes as well as the Introduction keeps her name floating in Art Circles.
After the death of M.A. Rahman Chughtai, we visited Professor Sirajuddin, the national genius of English literature. He welcomed us in his house and we talked about everything. He was talking about his son, the world famous violionist, Imdad (I think), as well as other memories. But he did not feel well. We had invited him to speak on the anniversary of the artist. He did have fond memories of the artist and spoke well of him. He was reluctant to speak about Razia, when the second wife was there. My uncle told me that he called the daughter of Professor Sondhi, as Razia too. Perhaps it was in memory of a figure, which achieved a cult status in her own life time.
Razia was educated at Sacred Heart School , and later went to Queen Mary College. She also studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, under Sir William Rothenstein. She was at Oxford University for a long time. Razia was the favourite choice of M.A. Rahman Chughtai for the post of the Chairman and Head of Department of Fine Arts at University of Punjab in 1940-41. Strangely Razia refused that job.
Razia was a woman of many dimensions. A literary giant, she would give talks on Radio Station Lahore on various subjects. She would partcipate in dramas and literary activity and she would paint. She painted little and one favouite painting was the portrait of Abdullah Yusuf Ali, that she made here. She participated in various exhibition shows.
Her real strength was that she was a legendary figure from some English drama or Greek mythology. She had special way of wearing a saree and she would decorate her entire dress, face and head with fresh flowers. She looked unbelievable when she walked in any room or any function or any meeting. She looked empheral, too good to be true. A fairy descended from a midsummer nights dream in all ways.
A Pakistani critic Azra Zaman wrote this about her:
“Razia Sirajuddin crowds her canvas with passion. Her earlier paintings showed some confusion caused by her persistent search for the relevant from out the traditional for compounding with the new. But like oil it did not mix with water and symbols of both techniques could be identified separately despite all her attempts. In her late canvasses, however, she has solved her mental problems and has confidently and successfully ‘opted’ for the present. And her paintings are live, the canvasses appeared seared with heart felt emotions. Possibly she may be described as the Emily Bronte of Pakistan painting.”
M.A. Rahman Chughtai considered only two artists worthy of his attention as a writer. One was Ustad Allah Baksh and the other was Razia Sirajuddin. It is sad that while Ustad Allah Baksh is still on the scene, the society has forgotten one of its greatest heroine and artists, Razia Sirajuddin.