Monday, November 13, 2023

Shahida Kazi — remembering the trailblazer of women's journalism

Her influence has been a source of inspiration, encouragement, and a gateway to a world of new experiences

Veteran Pakistani journalist Shahida Kazi speaks during an interview in this still taken from a video. — Arab News
Veteran Pakistani journalist Shahida Kazi speaks during an interview in this still taken from a video. — Arab News

Fatima Jinnah, Rana Liaquat, Ruth Pfau, and Benazir Bhutto are the few names that emerge when we talk about women who contributed immensely to shaping Pakistani society.

These women are the epitome of inspiration for all of us. Still, some unsung heroes have uplifted our nation with their remarkable contributions to education and society but never got the due credit for their work. One such personality is my teacher, mentor, and inspiration, ma'am Shahida Kazi.

Ma’am Kazi was the teacher of teachers, the epitome of an actual female journalist, and a true feminist to me who empowered us all by opening the door of reporting for women in our country.

In a world where journalists are known as soothsayers and biased, ma'am Kazi never minced her words and said what she wanted to, no matter who was standing in front of her.

I still remember how she always said that the history they teach you in schools is tempered, and you need to know and work hard to get what happened in the past.

Ma’am Kazi’s life was a saga that everyone should know; she was a motivator and was born to give wings to others, from covering the stories of international monarchs, foreign dignitaries, political leaders, Fatima Jinnah’s suspicious death and natural catastrophe to teaching as the head of the department of several universities.

Madam was a journalist, a prolific writer, and an educationist who had a career spanning decades, and she wasn't done yet in her second innings of life; her daily Facebook posts were still very much inspiring, rejuvenating, and a live history class itself. You would hardly find a professor who has taught countless students and would still remember your birthday and wish you well, and I know I am not alone in this; many of her students can relate to that.

She taught me for two years only and during that time she was also the head of our department so everyone was quite scared of her. But we built a unique camaraderie in such a small span that I feel I have lost someone very dear to me today.

Right now, when I am reflecting on my time with her, I can't recall every specific lesson she taught me, but the indelible mark she has left on me resonates vividly. Her influence has been a source of inspiration, encouragement, and a gateway to a world of new experiences. From the earliest days of my university life, she instilled a deep reverence for education, igniting a passionate desire for knowledge that continues to burn brightly within me.

It’s been over a decade since we last met, but I still remember how she treated me when we first met and how much I wanted to be her favorite student. Her uplifting energy and kindness have stuck with me in all these years. She gave me some real-life lessons, lessons that helped me become a better version of myself.

She gave my thoughts a new perspective that not everything is entirely white or black, but there are grays. She taught me to find gray in everything, and now I have become the one. While writing this, I can only picture smiling and giggling over our stupid logic; we rarely saw her stern on any issue. She was so passionate about teaching that nothing bothered her, and she was always very calm and patient with us students.

Our teachers do a remarkably tireless job behind the scenes, and their influence often goes unrecognized and underestimated. In this fast-moving life, sometimes it gets too late, and we never get time to thank people who provided us with their unwavering support and guidance; one such inspirational figure was Ma'am Kazi.

I wish I could tell her how she has illuminated my path with her wisdom and knowledge. I wish I could tell her what she meant to me and how much I cared for her, but it's too late now, and we can only pray that her eternal journey is far better and more beautiful than this one.

I don't know who she left in the family, but she certainly left behind numerous journalists, teachers, and professors who were her former students. Her sad demise is not just a departure of her soul but the end of an era.

Hirah Siddiqui is a Karachi-based writer. She has previously worked with various news publications. Hirah likes following and writing on current affairs and sports.