Birth and Family:

It was also raining that memorable night forty two years ago as a frail young women looked out of the window of the hospital. Dawn was far away and it was chilly. The cry of the moazzan rang out clear for the fajar,morning prayer and with it rang the cry of her new born child. The lady doctor announced that it was a girl. The mother was Afzal-un-Nissa, the father was Syed Shakir Hussain Zaidi,the hospital,Lady

Dufferin Hospital.Karachi and the Lady Doctor Dr.Ghulam Hussain.The day was Mnoday,the 24th of November,1952, and the baby girl was Perveen Shakir.


The parents had their first child.a girl born on 16th March 1950, whom they called Nasreen Bano. Since Afzal-un-Nissa did not enjy good health,the doctors had advised her only one more child. For her next child she prayed and fasted a lot, devoting her time to recitation of Quranic Verses. In November 1952 her second child was born, a beautifull daughter with a large forehead,black hair,big beautiful eyes,full lips and long eye-lashesin the muslim month of safar. They named her parveen bano,after the Persian name of a galaxy of stars.


The two sisters grew up together as friends, sharing their toys and books. It was a happy household, with great emphasis on learning.

The meaning of the verse is that we muslims cannot be bowed down by evil forces, we have been tested several times.It somehow sunk deep into their hearts and formed a foundation of their outlook on life.

At the age of three, Praveen was sent to school along with her sister. They called her “para” out of affection. She was an adorable child. The School was Islamia High School of Rizvia Colony and near their house. When in class Three she received a double promotion and


Their education started along before going to school.Mr.Askari whom the girls called “Nanna”, the urdu name for the maternal grandfather, taught them the love of books,of poetry,of knowledge . He was a Homeopathic doctor by profession and poetry was his hobby.

joined her sister in class 5. It was an English medium school and went up to this class only. The girls were then sent to “ The Rising Sun” school in the Chaurangai area. After a year and a half the school closed down altogether, and they then shifted to the “Rizvia Girls Secondary School” situated hardly 10 yards away from their house. It was run by a renowned and dedicated lady,Zahida Taqi,elder sister of Professor Karrar Hussain. She gave her students individual attention and encouraged extra-curricular activities. Parveen was a brilliant student,coming first in her class always and winning and laurels for the school as well. In Class Eight she wrote an article which the teacher not only rated “excellent” but also remarked that it was from a “Mustaqbil ki maroof Adiba” , a writer of the future. Her favourite teacher in school was Miss Amina with whom she liked to be photographed often.


As a child she was not very fond of toys or dolls, but preferred outdoor activities,when not reading. The sisters climbed trees, plucked fruit,mainly guavas,played ball or “kiri-kara”,hop-scotch. On rainy days they would play in the rain,but when forced to stay indoors would play games involving mental activity.Seeing her love for reading,Parveen’s father always got her books containing short stories of prophets or on religious topics. Her mother was a very religious person,never missing her prayers and always attending the Majlis, the religious gathering. The little parveen loved going with her as the zakiras,women oraters, the majlis, the entire atmosphere fascinated her. Once she left behind,but somehow managed to find her way all by herself to the house where the majlis was being held.One of her favourite zakiras was Batool Turabi,whom she would imitate at home,reciting nohas,religious poems, in her style before and audience of little children.


Nana saw the poetry inside her. He and his wife were devoted to the girls, not having children of their own. Parveen took poetry lessons from Nana.In her text books she would look for the poetry section and memories a poem first. She would also compose a tune for it and then sing it. It was the day of the radio, and Perveen loved the music programs always humming along with them. Nasreen on the other hand was fascinated by the medicines of her Nana, and would assist him in making the doses. Later in life, Nasreen studied Homeopathy and later became a doctor of that branch.


One of Parveen’s idiosyncracies was her aversion to wearing shoes. She would take off her chappals at all the times and would be invariably be loosing them,coming home from a majlis or a party without them or even wearing boys shoes on one occasion. She retained this habbit throughout her life. She always took her shoes off when driving a car. Several years later on a rainy day she onced stopped outside a shoe shop in Jinnah Super Market, Islamabad blowing the horn desperately. The salesman ran outside and was asked to bring a pair of shoes to the car. He was amused and Obliged her immediately. She had dropped one shoe on the road somewhere and could not reach her next destination without it! Parveen could not be bound to the earth by shoes and chappals. She had to go far beyond, she had a path of her own, destined to soar higher in her achievements and attain higher goals in life.


Following are the highlights of Perveen Shakir's life. She was a very enthusiastic personality.

1952 Born on Monday, November 24th
1966 Matric
1968 F.A.
1970 Best Poet award by USIS Karachi
1971 B.A. (Hons) in English
1972 M.A. English Literature from the University of Karachi
1973 Lecturer in English, Abdullah College for Women, Karachi
1974 Wrote columns for Daily Jang, 1972 – 1974
1975 Engagement
1976 Marriage
1977 First book “Khushboo” inaugurated in Karachi
1978 Awarded the Adamjee Award for Poetry (Khushboo)
  Birth of son, Murad
1979 Awarded a Gold medal for the best poet of the year 1079, at the Silver Jubliee celebrations of Sir Syed College for women, Karachi
1980 Second book “Sadberg” inaugurated in Karachi. M.A. English Linguistics, Karachi.
1981 CSS Exam
1982 Civil Services Academy, Lahore. 10th Common Batch
1983 Training at the National Institute of Customs and Excise, Karachi
1984 Posted as A.C. Customs, Custom House, Karachi
1985 Third book “Khud Kalami” inaugurated at Lahore, Awarded the Alahma Iqbal Hira Award for Poetry
1986 Posted as Second Secretary, Central Board of Revenue (CBR), Islamabad. Awarded the Zahoor Nazar Award for Urdu Nazam, India
1987 Divorce
1987 Visited China as member, Writers Delegation
1988 Posted as Assistant Collector, Excise and Sales Tax, Rawalpindi. Posted as Assistant Director(Admn), Rawalpindi Collectorate
1989 Awarded the Faiz Ahmed Faiz International Award for Poetry, by the World Urdu Conference, New Delhi, India.
1990 Fourth book “Inkaar” inaugurated at Islamabad. Fullbright Scholar – in - Residence Teaching Scholarship at the university of Hartford, Conn. USA.
1991 Received the President’s Pride of Performance Award in Poetry
  M.P.A Degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Assistant
1992 Director, Customs Intelligence, Islamabad. Six week, Management Information Systems Course, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore.
1993 Deputy Director Inspection and Training, Customs and Central Excise, Islamabad
1994 “Mah-e-Tamam” collection of the four books, published. Wrote weekly column in the daily “Jang”, entitled “Gosh-e-Chashm”
Death Monday the 26th of December 1994