Rashid Jahan

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Rashid Jahan (1905–1952) was an Indian writer who inaugurated a new era of Urdu literature written by women. She wrote short-stories and plays and is perhaps best remembered for her involvement with the explosive Angaaray (1931), a collection of groundbreaking and unconventional short stories written by young writers in Urdu like Sajjad Zaheer and Ahmed Ali.

She was born in Aligarh. Her father, Sheikh Abdullah (not to be confused with the 'Sher-e-Kashmir'), was a leading pioneer of women's education in India and established the Women's College at the Aligarh Muslim University.

Rashid Jahan trained as a gynaecologist at the Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi.

She was an active member of the Communist Party of India and a leading voice in the Progressive Writers' Association. She married fellow revolutionary Mahmuduz Zafar.

Rashid Jahan died in Moscow where she had gone for treatment for uterine cancer. She is buried in a cemetery there.

Her famous short-story Dilli ki Sair is a little narrative about a burqa-clad women watching life on a railway platform waiting for her husband to turn up and take her home. The story is a brief but penetrating meditation on life behind the 'veil' and the blindness of male privilege towards the experience of women behind the purdah.

Some of her writings have appeared in collections like Aurat aur Dusre Afsane wa Drame (1937) and Woh aur Dusre Afsane wa Drame (Maktaba Jamia, 1977).

Her sister Khurshid Mirza's memoirs recently published in English includes a chapter on Rashid Jahan (pp. 86–104, A Woman of Substance: The Memoirs of Begum Khurshid Mirza, New Delhi: Zubaan, 2005).

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