By : Saba Dewan
The other day while having lunch with old family friends I heard the very fascinating story of Renuka Devi aka Begum Khurshid Mirza. Born in 1918 in Aligarh she was the daughter of Sheikh Abdullah and Waheed Jahan Begum, founders of the Aligarh Women’s College established in 1906 to provide English based education to Muslim girls.They also edited a well known Urdu journal for women, ‘Khatun’.
Staunch votaries of social reform they gave their five daughters not only the best possible education available but also the freedom to make their life choices. Their eldest daughter, Rashid Jahan studied medicine to become a well respected doctor. A Communist she was also a well known Urdu writer and member of the Progressive Writers’ Movement.
Khurshid, younger to Rashid Jahan, charted a career in the performing arts. After an early marriage to a police officer she pursued acting in films as Renuka Devi. Post Partition she and her husband migrated to Pakistan. Here she made a name as an actor in television.
For more about her life and times do read ‘A Woman of Substance: The Memoirs of Begum Khurshid Mirza’ edited and compiled by Lubna Kazim. Published by Zubaan