The Life of Bapsi Sidhwa: Pakistani Equivalent of Salman Rushdie
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The Life of Bapsi Sidhwa: Pakistani Equivalent of Salman Rushdie

Bapsi Sidwa is a Parsi, a microscopic minority in Pakistan, who follow the Zoroaster religion. This helps as the strict Islamic code does not apply to the Parsi community and accordingly Bapsi Sidwa could flourish as a writer. A study of her biography shows that she made most of the opportunities that came her way.

The state of Pakistan  been dominated by gender inequality. This is perhaps the reason that Pakistan has produced very few women writers  in the English language. In such a scenario one woman writer from Pakistan has made a mark as a novelist. She is Bapsi Sidhwa,who has also been honored by the Pakistan Government,

Bapsi Sidwa is a Parsi. the Parsi's as is well known are followers of Zoroaster the Iranian prophet. On the advent of Islam the Parsi left Iran and settled in Surat, India. From Surat they spread out to other parts of undivided India like Karachi, Bombay and Lahore.

 Bapsi Sidhwa’s parents  were initially settled in karachi, but they soon left karachi and came to Lahore. Bapsi was stricken by Polio and that put severe limitations on her life and she could not be sent to school and so Bapsi studied at home. This effected her life as she became lonely and spent time immersed in Books.

Bapsi was 9 years old in 1947 when the state of Pakistan was created.This is a terrible period in Indian history as both Hindus and Muslims were at each others throats. Bapsi could observe all this frenzy through detached eyes, as she was a neutral bystander, This period formed the backdrop of some of her books..

 In 1954 Bapsi joined Kinnaird College for women in Lahore and graduated in arts with a BA degree in 1957. She was 19 at that time and she married and moved to Bombay. The marriage  ended in divorce after 5 years.

Bapsi moved back to Lahore and married her present husband Noshir Sidhwa. She had 3 children in Lahore. Bapsi started writing but her books met with rejection as such she decided to publish her first book herself.. Her book the Crow eaters (1979) was published privately on her own.

 Her books won aacclaaim and in all she wrote 4 novels. In 1991 she was mentioned by New York Times as the “Notable Book of the Year”. She also  received $100,000 from the Lila Wallace Readers Digest award in 1991.

In the meantime Bapsi who had shifted to the USA became a naturalized US citizen in 1993.

In this period she came in contact with Deepa Mehta, an Indo- Canadian film maker and began a fruitful collaboration with her. Two of the 3 film projects of Deepa Mehta namely Earth (1998) and water (2005) are inspired by the works of Bapsi.

Bapsi is now settled in USA and is an American citizen, though she fondly remembers Lahore and her period in Pakistan. Bapsi’s Books have been translated into many languages including Urdu, though she has not read the Urdu translation which is the language of Pakistan. Bapsi has got herself a place in the sun on her own merit and is well on the way to being remembered as a great Pakistani writer

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