The feminine pride

August 13, 2023

Iffat Navaid’s autobiography is a virtual primer for young lovers

The feminine pride


he book tells the story of a sensitive girl being impressed by a creative person, getting to know him better, developing mutual admiration and falling in love. It also recalls the opposition to their union and how it was overcome. More to the point, it describes how her determination to make the relationship work despite all odds suffices in the end.

Above everything else, Iffat Navaid highlights the value of mental discipline. This alone, she implies, is a remedy for many challenges newlyweds are likely to face. This is also a factor in keeping at bay physical disease and not letting it aggravate or break your spirit.

Considering the many lessons it contains for young couples, it is a shame that the English reading public should be deprived of its benefits. It is hoped that it will be soon translated into English and become available to a larger audience.

The book recalls in realistic detail the feelings of the author following her first encounter poet Mir Ahmad Navaid, whom she would eventually be attracted to and marry.

While reading the book, one is likely to detect a resemblance between some aspects of one’s own life and the lives of some great writers.

Iffat’s meeting with Ahmad Navaid at the launch of his collection of poetry, Dar-i-Neem Vaa, (A Door Half-Open) is the starting point for a lot of exciting developments in their lives.

The reader might recall that Dostoevsky’s novel The Gambler was the reason for his meeting with Anna. The manuscript was typed over 26 days. In the end, the writer realised that he could no longer live without the girl he had met.

In Iffat and Navaid’s case there were several objections by well-wishers: the two were on different sides of the difficult Shia-Sunni divide, Navaid did not have a steady income or wealth to fallback upon, he had had a nervous breakdown and his hands were affected by palsy.

The problems these and other factors could cause them were explained to them in some detail. Her elder brother advised her not to marry the ‘wrong’ man. However, the heart has its reasons. She decided in the end that she still liked him too much to let anything stand in their way. The marriage, she announced, would go ahead.

The readers will recall that Dostoevsky had suffered from epilepsy, poverty and chronic indebtedness. Anna knew all that but also believed that her rejection would be devastating for him.

Iffat Navaid recalls that there was no money for a wedding as usual. The wedding gifts, jewelry, and the valima feast were all tough challenges. She writes, “Papa is in Khairpur. What does he know whether you have a job or not? Yes, and of the jewelry: get some silver set polished with gold.”

There is a close parallel in Dostoevsky’s story.

Like Iffat Navaid, Anna had the problem with an unwavering resolve. “Oh well, do not worry. I am an expert in knitting and embroidery. I have the cloth.”

Next at the reception, the groom had suffered an epileptic fit and bride had to attend to him. She’d that all her life.

The readers might also remember how Tolstoy gave his wife Sophia Behrs his diaries. Reading those would help her during tough times.

Iffat Navaid has had no less difficult a life.

She describes her joy in the progress of their children and her endeavour to keep healthy as well as Navaid’s injections, unemployment, work at schools and colleges and the inconvenience of commuting by bus.

In the end it seems that nothing could have broken Iffat Navaid’s spirit. The family have made it through all kinds of challenges and she is justifiably proud of it. She strikes a triumphant note.

Deep Jaltay Rahay

Author: Iffat Navaid

Publisher: Fiction House, Lahore, 2022

Pages: 264

The reviewer is a Lahore-based, award-winning translator and researcher. He can be reached at: and tweets at @raza_naeem1979

The feminine pride