Monday, March 14, 2016


                                              ( Safia and sadat Hassan Manto in Mumbai  )

Not much is known and written about Safia (wife of Sadat Hassan Manto) .let me add a little that I happen to know....

She belonged to kashmiri family from Lahore. Her father was an officer in Bombay police during British rule .He had been deputed to East Africa for some time and the family lived in a flat on third floor of Jaffar House at Mahim Bombay.

It was Manto's mother who was eager to get him married. She had seen Safia and her family as she also happened to live at Mahim with Manto's married sister. Manto's brother in law did not go well with Manto .He had given clear message to his wife that neither should Manto visit their house nor could she go to his house to see him .

Manto's Nikaah ceremony was solemnised in September 1938.In his letter dated nil September , 1938 ,Manto writes to poet Ahmed Nadeem Kasmi:

" I have been engaged to a girl from a kashmiri family of Lahore.we have many things in common Her father is dead and so is mine. She uses spectacles and so do I .Both of us are born on 11th May. Our names start with S. "

Manto’s Marriage Baraat had many film personalities  as Guests who were entrtained to a lavish kashmiri style feast at Safia’s home . Manto names some of them as  Babu Rao Patel ( Editor Film India ), Rafiq Gazanavi , Khalish Kashmiri , Director Nanda , A R Kaardaar , Director Gunjal, Actor E Billimoria , D Billimoria , Noor Mohd Charlie , Actress  Padma Devi etc.

Safia was possibly a matriculate .She was an excellent cook who served keema Paraantha to Actor Ashok Kumar as and when he visited Manto's house in Mumbai.Safia had befriended Actress Nargis as well. She would also visit actress Naseem Bano's residence along with her husband . .Safia would also go for shopping with Ashok Kumar's wife.

Safia had literary tastes. In Bombay, she went to many Mushiaras with Manto. Urdu writer Ismat Chugtai was also close to Safia .

In her spare time, safia read Manto's stories and enjoyed them. She loved films. That was safia Manto's Bombay phase of life. Possibly the only happy period of her married life .

After partition riots broke out , Manto had little work. It was Hamid Jalal, his favourite Nephew who brought Safia and children to Lahore and put them in a flat on ground floor in Lakshmi building Lahore .Manto arrived months later.
Hamid Jalal also lived on first floor in this building with his family. The building belonged to Lakshmi Insurance co .
Though safia's brother Bashir Deen was always supportive, it was Her sister Zakia's husband and Manto's favourite Nephew Hamid Jalal who supported Safia all throough . Her mother and  Sister Zakia also  stood like a rock to support Safia .

While in Pakistan, Manto turned an alcoholic and did not earn much .He was dragged to courts for his writings.He also remained sick  and also in hospitals for long durations . For about an year before his death, he wrote simply to earn for his daily drink  .

Hamid Jalal rose to become a very senior and influential Bureaucrat in Pakistan.He was a man of liberal views and quite helpful to his relatives in general more specifically to the family of his wife's sister.

Fed up of living with an alcoholic, a time came when  Safia thought of leaving Manto and moving away with her children . It was her  brother who consoled her  and told  her not to take this extreme step as Manto was  gravely sick . When Manto died , Safia was 39 .

Safia was a courageous woman , devoted wife and a caring mother who had no personal or material ambitions.
Alas this great lady saw  too much of  pain and suffering.  Safia died in 1977 when she was 62.

(Autar Mota)


For this photograph i remain indebted to  Manto Family and  Ayesha Jalal ( whom i believe to the source of this photo available on net ) .

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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