Memories: Tributes to Naushaba Burney

The Children’s Literature Festival in Karachi ended on Saturday 26 Feb 2016. Where were you Naushaba? We used to be the two “senior juniors” in this event ever since it was launched by Baela Raza Jamil in 2011. We travelled together to Lahore, Islamabad, and Quetta and enjoyed the company of the youth. This time it was lonely without you.Your family and friends miss you. Here is how they remember you.(ZM)


With daughters and granddaughter

By Samya Burney on behalf of her siblings

AMMA always worked when we were kids as she enjoyed the stimulation and also needed the money.  However, she worked part-time for quite a while when we were young so that she could balance her career and time with us. She finally decided to go back to working full-time when she accepted a job at PIA, writing speeches for the chairman as well as articles for Humsafar, among other things.

Despite her misgivings about the demanding commute to the airport as well as the long hours that this job required, she took it in part because it would enable her to show her children the world, as PIA provided free air tickets for employees’ families. It was difficult for her during the initial years to manage overseeing her household and three children along with the long schedule and travel that the job required, but she enjoyed the work, and encouraged her children to step up and become more independent to enable her to focus on her work.

Her husband was always supportive of her career and responsibilities at home, and her mother, Nafisa, and sisters Rana and Ameena, were always there to give a hand as well; she and my father had big, loving families and a network of wonderful friends, which was the defining feature of our childhood.

Amma also achieved her goal of taking her kids to numerous countries and visiting her friends across the world, although always on a shoestring budget, traveling solo with three kids on standby tickets.  We have many memories of being stranded overnight, and sometimes longer, at airports such as Nairobi and Paris, because our standby tickets could not be accommodated on full flights.  Amma always calmly and purposefully negotiated these and other challenges.

Later, she encouraged her children to pursue higher education abroad, always giving us the freedom to explore our interests and pursue any path we wanted.  She herself was committed to Pakistan and living in Karachi, and fiercely resisted our entreaties to have her live with us.  She was always ready to help us when needed, however, even staying with her daughter, Samya, for five months in New York City when her twin sons were born in 1998.  Because of the pattern Amma set in our youth, we went on family vacations in different places throughout the last decade, and Amma always happily joined us from Karachi.  She loved hiking, exploring historical cities, and having a cup of coffee in a sunny plaza, with her children and grandchildren.

She always made time to volunteer for organizations such as Behbood, Family Planning Association of Pakistan, and, more recently, Pakistan Women’s Foundation for Peace.  It was important to her to contribute to the larger good.  She set a great example for her children, and inculcated values of honesty and compassion in us.  She was also frequently acerbic and blunt, and never minced her words about our failings; at the same time she allowed us to make mistakes and learn from them.  We have tried to follow her example in raising our own children, but it is impossible to attain her level of wisdom and optimism about life.


Naushaba (centre) with Samar and Samya
Naushaba (centre) with Samar and Samya
By Samar Burney
\It has been lovely to read all these memories of amma.
It still feels unreal that she is gone. I keep wanting to pick up the phone and call her.
Samya and I had a wonderful chat with her on December 9th or 10th, just a couple days before she fell sick. She was in a great mood and unusually chatty. Usually she would get tired of talking on the phone and would want to hang up but this time we spoke for over an hour and she filled us in on her Dhaka trip and how she was looking forward to going to Thailand with us in the summer.
I sometimes wonder how I will get by without her advice. She always gave me the best advice – very sensible and well thought-out. Perhaps it was because she was such a prolific reader but she was always up to date on the latest child-raising ideas.
Samar and Shehryar
Samar and Shehryar
When Zara, Kazim and Amir were born, I remember a lot of my friends complaining that their mothers’ would give them outdated advice  and insist that they follow it because that was they had raised their children and felt it was the only right way. Amma, interestingly, never praised herself on doing a good job with us and was instead a wealth of information on current expert views on what to feed babies, how long to let them cry, etc. She would chuckle as she relayed how she and Rani Khala followed every word written by Dr. Spock.  I still remember when I was struggling with Kazim early on as he could be and still can be infuriating at times – she told me very strongly not to lose my temper with him. She said he was a very sensitive but highly intelligent child and shouting at him was a bad idea. I’m still amazed that she figured out Kazim’s personality before Dennis and I did as indeed he is very sensitive and shouting and screaming at him only leads to a more negative outcome. Somehow she understood his complexity right away and really connected with him.

Also, several years ago, when Zara was about to go into first grade, amma was visiting in the summer before school started. Zara was very worked up about what teacher she was going to get and there was one particular teacher she was dead set against – Ms. Rutledge. Ms. Rutledge was African American, very obese and quite strict and Zara had made up her mind that being in her class would be miserable. I took Zara to check the class lists when they came out and, of course, Zara ended up with Ms. Rutledge. Predictably, Zara was besides herself and had quite a fit saying she would not go to school and would just skip first grade. Amma was highly amused by the situation and especially how Zara came home bawling about being placed with the one teacher she detested. However, she was able to calm Zara down by reasoning and talking with her calmly and telling Zara not to listen to other kids’ horror stories and to make up her own opinion about the teacher. Amma also threw in some survival stories of  her own regarding bad teacher encounters and how she survived them just fine.

Samar and Shehryar
Samar and Shehryar
Sure enough, it was not long before Zara dried her tears and was able to face the situation with some grace.
Looking back I also appreciate how much Amma did for us kids, something we did not appreciate at the moment. Even though she was working full time, she was always dragging us to events and activities. We went to many movies in the old movie theaters, sometimes sitting in the front with all the taxi drivers. Swimming at the Gymkhana in the summer was a given. She would drive to the house after work and honk and we would jump into the car. She did not get to even come in and relax for a few minutes. Any time, a Chinese circus came to town or a British Shakespeare group, we would be there. Cricket, squash, hockey matches – we were there. I remember her even letting us skip school one day for a cricket match. She took the three of us to the cricket stadium along with one of our friends. There she found out that two kids could go in free along with one paying adult. She grabbed some random fellow who was going in and stuck two of us kids with him, much to our (and his) embarrassment. The poor fellow did not even have a chance to say no but had to march in through the gates with two of us kids in tow. The flower show at Polo grounds was another fixture in our lives along with numerous book fairs. I sometimes hear friends say that their parents did not take them anywhere or do anything with them and it always surprises me as I just thought it was normal to constantly being shuttled here and there by parents.
I’m embarrassed to say we were lazy and bad at times – often trying to hide so we did not have to make her tea when she came home from PIA. Of course, she would sometimes bring us treats from the PIA cafeteria (bun kebabs, patties, cake) which we loved and looked forward to.


Naushaba with brother Javed
Naushaba with brother Javed

By Javed Husain

Naushaba meant so much to so many in such wonderfully different ways that she leaves behind a treasure trove of memories for all to relish. These memories provide us a glimpse into the caring and warm personality of Naushaba and why she had such a huge impact on all those who knew her. She was a non conformist and a natural leader, which is why even in her absence her presence is felt.


Naushaba and Ameena with granddaughter Miraal
Naushaba and Ameena with granddaughter Miraal

By Ameena Saiyid

I WAS studying in the Karachi Grammar School when Naushaba was teaching at the Karachi University.  We had just been introduced to Shakespeare and I was struggling hard with the language and not succeeding in deciphering it.  I remember I used to cry and ask my mother to shift me to another school where Shakespeare was not compulsory.  Naushaba sat me down and began teaching me Julius Caesar and soon I began to not only understand it but to enjoy it. She was really an amazing teacher.

On another occasion, I got a big role in a school performance but could not attend the rehearsals regularly and was going to be thrown out.  When Naushaba found out, she said: “You are going to take part in the play.”  After that, she would drive me to every rehearsal and back and attended the performance and gave me a pat on the back.

When I was building a house in Lahore in the 1980s, and struggling because of the expense, she would phone me regularly to ask about progress.  During one of our phone conversations, I told her I was reducing a bathroom because I just couldn’t afford it.  She told me not to and sent me the money for it even though she could barely afford to.

She was like a rock backing everything I did and encouraging and praising my efforts at every step.


Naushaba with Naved
Naushaba with Naved

By Naved Husain

NAUSHABA was around 18 years older then me.My earliest memory of her  dates back to the time I was a toddler around 3 years old.

As I was the youngest among my brothers, sisters and cousins I felt I was taken for granted. Anyone would lift me up and kiss my cheeks without my permission.

I hated this and always aggressively protested ” NA KARA KORO PYAR”. I remember Naushaba used to find this very amusing , and suspect she  encouraged people to try this again so that she could enjoy a repeat performance.

In Nov 2015 she was in Dhaka and at 83 none of us could control her appetite to party and enjoy herself. She landed and went to the Dhaka Literature Festival and was all over the place.

It was difficult to keep up. She followed that by dinners every night. Apart from her old friends she became hugely popular with the young Dhaka crowd.  To my horror I discovered she never forgot my ” NA KARA KARO PYAR”  and made sure that everybody in Dhaka became aware of it.

Growing up in the same house as Naushaba meant that long hours were spent at the dining table together.  She had little tolerance for people “who saw the glass half full”.

In her presence I was not allowed to sulk, be depressed or complain about anything like bad weather.  Moreover, I used to try to read the newspaper so that I had something to talk about.

If I had any English exam I would try to dodge the dining table conversation so that my poor spelling (No spell check in those days) and shallow understanding of Shakespeare did not get exposed.

She was very vocal and said what was in her mind and heart. If I did something stupid I would immediately hear about it.

Once she went to Moscow on an inaugural PIA flight. I was around 15 years old and a great fan of the Beatles and other groups of that time. I was shocked and thrilled to see that she came back hand carrying a new guitar she bought for me.  Over the years spent together I realized that Naushaba was one of the most giving and unselfish people I ever came across.

I realized that her relationships with friends and relatives ran deep and were never superficial. She walked her talk and hated any form of hypocrisy. Although an “intellectual giant” I never heard her talk about her amazing achievements. She was much more interested in hearing about good things happening in the lives of others.

Naushaba set the bar high for the family. We all learn`t to emulate the principles on which she led her life . (ie: Enjoy every moment of life, never get bored, be courageous and highly progressive. Try to excel in what you do but never


By Hammad Husain

NASHO Phuppo always took a lot of interest in whatever we as children
were doing in school and in sports.  Her genuine interest in what each
of her nieces and nephews was doing always encouraged me. Whenever we met she would always ask me about my studies, the subjects I had
taken, my grades and what all I was doing in my life. It felt good. As
children, in the early and mid-eighties, whenever we visited Karachi
in the holidays, I remember being fascinated by Nasho Phuppo and
Burney Phuppa’s house. It used to be full of books; in the drawing
room, in the dining room, in bedrooms and even in the corridors. Both
of them would ask me what books I was reading, my favourite books etc.
Nasho Phuppo would ask me about me routine at Aitchison and about my
studies and sports, what subjects interest me and what my plans for
the future were. She would always offer advice. She wanted us to excel
in everything we were doing, and whenever I won a prize in something,
she would specially congratulate and encourage me. The best thing was
that she had the capacity to make me feel that I had conquered the
world. This is a rare quality only found in very few educationists.
Looking back, now I realise how important it is to constantly
encourage youngsters and Nasho Phuppo was always there to give that
much-needed dose of encouragement and motivation to last months! It
has inspired me to now do the same with my university students.

In 1988, I took part in the Karachi Gymkhana swimming competition. As
I emerged from the dressing room for my first event, I saw Nasho
Phuppo there with Baba. It gave me a huge morale boost to see that she
had specially come to see me compete. She stayed there till the end
and congratulated me after every event, even when I didn’t win in a
race. She would tell me that it’s important to compete and try one’s
best and it doesn’t matter if one wins or loses.  She knew how to
motivate and encourage the youngsters. I can never forget how much
encouragement I got that day by her presence and interest in my
swimming competition.

Later, she would always ask about my daughter Gizem and son Sinan’s school and  studies. There have been very few people in my life who always took so much interest in what the children were doing. Nasho Phuppo will be missed.


By Tayyaba Rauf

My dear aunt Naushaba Burney, whom we lovingly called Nasho phuppo, was a source of love, care and comfort all through our childhood. She was always full of hugs, smiles and pertinent questions about our life – which books we were reading, which subject interested us the most and what sports we were interested in. There was always a conversation, never just a pinch on the cheek or ruffle of hair. As a child one really values the attention of elders, no matter how brief. She was the first to encourage us to try to be good all-rounders and good readers. Even with my children, she always asked about their reading habits and expressed pleasure when she saw them with a book in their hands! When I needed some help with English literature during my stint at St Josephs, she dismissed the idea of seeking tuition and offered to help every evening after her long day at work. Visiting her every day and studying Byron and Shakespeare with her followed by a general chat session over a cup of tea will be one of the best memories of times spent alone with her. During my working life in Karachi, she would periodically phone and suggest meeting for a quick lunch and catch up at the Karachi Gymkhana. Just an aunt and niece, chatting and having fun – those are the best memories. She always signed our birthday and greeting cards as “your doting phuppo.” Doting she was and in the process enriched our lives in more ways than one. She will be loved and missed forever.


By Fahd Husain

There were so many wonderful sides to Nasho Phuppo but one of the most endearing was the deep interest she took in our lives. She was a great listener – a rare quality – and she would always be concerned for our personal and professional well-being. Being an accomplished journalist, she would regularly enquire about my work and offer opinion and advice that betrayed a deep, well thought out and nuanced understanding of every aspect of the media. Her command over the principles of journalism was equaled only by her command of the English language. A lifetime spent consuming books like only a voracious reader could, Nasho Phuppo wrote with conviction and clarity and her prose flowed like a gentle stream. She was a keen observer of life and events and her analysis of national developments was always a pleasure to hear. She leaves behind a lasting legacy of journalistic excellence and a reputation that will perfume the family name for generations.


With the family who derived strength from her
With the family who derived strength from her

By Shayma Saiyid

I want to share my story about Khala’s support of my dancing and singing.  There are too many incidents to report but one of them sticks out which is when Sheema Kermani had given a dance performance at PACC in the early to mid 1980s, and Khala was determined that I attend it although she found out about it at the last minute. Because she learned of it at the last minute she didn’t have enough cash in her purse, and so she began emptying out all the drawers in the house until she found enough loose change to be able to purchase tickets for me and her two daughters. She always called me her “third daughter” and recently she wrote me this on Facebook about a dance photo I’d uploaded:

“Shayma, Thanks a million for remembering my b’day. I didn’t think anyone would but am delighted that several did, and my third daughter’s wishes are especially welocome. Love Nasho Khala. I love your dance pose, and I have always maintained that unlike most dancers you are actually built like one.”.


At her nephew's birthday
At her nephew’s birthday

By Shehrbano Saiyid.

NASHO Khala was loving, honest and a humble intellectual – a lady unaware of the depth of her own wisdom. She could get along famously with anyone regardless of his or her age or background. The only thing that mattered to her was sincerity, good values and a vibrant conversation.

Friends who came to visit me over the years would never leave my house without sitting and chatting with Nasho Khala. One friend told me she wished we could put her essence in countless little bottles and give them to our friends because everyone needed to experience the essence of Khala. They called her Khala because that’s who she was to them as well. They loved her and enjoyed her company, they said, more than most people of her generation. She was truly ahead of her times and remained progressive in her thinking throughout her life.

Once my brother and I invited her to a stand-up comedy show at the PACC. We all know how ‘colorful’ comedians the world over can be, but that never mattered to her. She exclaimed ‘Oh I would love to go!’ Not only was she ready within minutes – as was her punctual style – she insisted on paying for our tickets. She seated herself in the front row where she could hear better and laughed through the evening no matter what the nature of the jokes were. She could enjoy humor at all levels and loved to be in touch with the youth; with how they thought and lived; what made them laugh, struggle and hope. I think she was probably the eldest person there.

At the show we bumped into a friend of mine who invited us to dinner to Pompeii with his group. We asked Nasho Khala if she was tired or wanted to join us. She eagerly accepted the invitation and chatted with a table full of people in their 20s and 30s over an array of Italian dishes. (Italian food was always one of her favorites!) On the way home, tired but pleased, she said ‘what a lovely bunch of people!’ She told us how happy it made her to see such talent and initiative in the Pakistani youth, to see them ‘out and about enjoying their lives’ as she would often put it. It broke her heart to see the lives of the young – students or young professionals – often frozen or torn apart by violence in Karachi everyday. Karachi was her city, her home, a place she would never leave even though her children in the US kept trying to convince her to live with them. She would sit at the dining table or the balcony looking over the garden she grew with great care and love, reading various newspapers. She loved to read.

She once asked me to find the novel My Temples, Too by Qurutulain Hyder. She had read River of Fire in English and Urdu and wanted to read all the novels by the renowned writer, who she referred to as Ainy Apa because we’re all related in some way.

There are so many fond memories, I first didn’t know how to begin writing and now I cant seem to stop. My family and I attended the Dhaka Literature Festival last November. We flew in on the first day and Nasho Khala was the only one ready to head straight to some session at the festival – despite over 6 hours of traveling and an early morning flight! She joined my mother, who had arrived a couple of days earlier, at the Dhaka University, spent the rest of the day at the festival and proceeded to a festival related dinner with my mother. She came back very late that evening – tired and happy as always.

The next day her son Shehryar, granddaughter Miraal (a mini Nasho Khala in looks and attitude) and I went with her to the festival and found ourselves a little out of place in a crowd where we hardly knew anyone. We ended up sticking to Nasho Khala and getting introduced to her old friends from the days before partition. She and a friend of hers held each other’s arms and walked about the festival catching up and talking about what books they wanted to buy.

She would party to the point that she would sometimes put the younger generation to shame. My cousin Husain said he was shocked to see her at a new years ball at 2 am walking around with boundless energy, happily wearing a black paper hat with happy new year written on it. She was always ready to celebrate and did it with the enthusiasm of a person who loved life and lived it to the fullest extent.

One of the things I loved most about her was that she had no hang ups. She never demanded special respect for being the eldest in the family after my grandmother died in 2003. To her, age was just a number and if relatives from out of town didn’t come by to pay their respects she would simply go over to see them and return full of stories about a wonderful evening with a sparkle in her eyes that showed the deep unconditional love she felt for her family.

Everytime I walked down the stairs of my house she would greet me by saying “Little thing! How about some breakfast/lunch/tea?” Or “Come sit with me, let me tell you something…” Her most said line to me recently was “When do I get to see our FILLUM (film)”, in a mock accent. I always said “just another couple of weeks, Nasho Khala, another couple of weeks.”

We love you, Nasho Khala, and will never stop missing you.


Siblings with mother, Nafisa (next to Naushaba on extreme left)
Siblings with mother, Nafisa (next to Naushaba on extreme left)

By Khursheed Hyder

IT’S hard to believe that Naushaba Burney has gone. She was larger than life with her zest for living, with a smiling face always however down and out she felt. She had asthma for years and was short of breath for most of the time, but she would go to meetings and attend functions whenever the need arose, never letting it come in her way. She never complained about her health. She was always helpful whenever one required it and gave advice when it was sought. She was a brilliant writer, writing in a concise and interesting way so that the reader never felt bored.

Although she was much older than I was, we were good friends as we shared many interests, and I being a cousin had the advantage of visiting the house whenever I wanted to. Her sense of humour, her probing, analytical approach to everything, her helpful style made her popular with everyone. Nisho Aapa, as her friends and family called her, worked in prestigious organizations such as P.I.A and Aga Khan and in later years ran a school in Korangi.

As her health deteriorated her activites lessened and she became somewhat lonely, staying at home and going to the hospital when the need arose due to breathing problems. She missed her children, all three living abroad, and refused to leave her city for long when she went to visit them as she found it difficult to stay away from it for a lengthy period of time.

For those who knew her well, her death has left a void in their lives that will not be filled easily. Rest in peace, Nisho Aapa. You will be missed for a long time.


By Muhammad Ali Siddiqi
Dawn, 13 Feb 2016

It is amazing how lessons taught by one’s teacher remain in a student’s memory till old age. “If you review a film or a play, do not reveal the end. Leave the reader guessing,” she said. Never place a box item in column one or eight; it must be elsewhere preferably in the middle” and “never put a picture close to an ad.” Those were the days of black and white pictures and ads, but, in today’s gaudy world of colours, the rule holds good.

Naushaba (nee Hussain) Burney was one of my teachers at Karachi University’s newly founded department of journalism. (The word ‘media’ wasn’t yet in vogue.) Many people doubted whether the department was really needed. Pakistan then had only three English dailies, Karachi having two — Dawn and Morning News. The other paper was of course The Pakistan Times, Lahore. But many of those now occupying key positions in today’s vibrant and unwieldy media are the product of that department.

They include first and foremost M. Ziauddin, former resident-editor of Dawn, Islamabad, later resident editor of a Lahore English daily and still later founder and executive editor of another English newspaper. Also among them are Shahida Kazi and Nisar Zuberi.

It is the quality of teachers that mattered. There were two others — Sharif Al Mujahid, the department’s founder, and Qayyum Malik. They made a thorough job of us. Malik taught us fonts and headline writing in a given space: left-flush, centre and step headlines, which NYT practised but later discarded it. Burney taught us how to write a well-structured story by giving us points in chronological order so we could craft a news item like an inverted pyramid. The corrections made by her and the mistakes she pointed out would help me throughout my career as a journalist.

About page-making, some of her instructions still resonate with me, and God alone knows how many times I have repeated it to my juniors at Dawn. The fundamental principle of page make-up, she said, was that “every page must be like yesterday’s page, but it must be different”. So this oxymoron is the fundamental principle of page making — “every page must be like yesterday’s, but it must be different”.

Mujahid is an institution. Gradually he veered off into what it seems he was born for — an icon in writing the history of the Pakistan movement. But as our teacher his focus was on telling us about the intricacies of writing English and avoiding the mistakes typical of South Asians, with an overdose of ‘ing’ — “I am living in Karachi”.

The most terrible moment for me came decades later when Burney became editor of Dawn magazine, overseeing which was one of my duties. We both managed it with tact, without spoiling our relationship. I must also mention here her husband, I. H. Burney, who was my senior in the profession and one of the founder-members of the Karachi Press Club. His weekly, Outlook, was closed down by the government of the day because, as he put it, “it was the only voice of nonconformism”.


By Shazia Hasan on Facebook

‘WHAT‘S on your mind?’ asks my Facebook. There will be no goodbyes today, I think. For three days I have struggled with acceptance that a friend, my first mentor in journalism, has left. 
But I remember you so clearly in my head. I remember when Hakim Said faxed my essay to Dawn’s editor in 1993, and it got published! I remember how after learning that writers get paid I visited Sunday Magazine, looking for my payment. There you were, just recently having taken over as in charge of the mag. I felt awkward but you pretended not to notice as you chatted with me, encouraging me to write more while searching all your drawers for a cheque in my name. 
I listened to you, I shared how I liked writing children’s stories more. You then suggested to me to write for Young World also. 
You sending me off to investigate land reclamation in DHA. The Chinese engineers with dredgers near our beach, too, had no issues posing with me and my little brother, just two harmless kids enjoying a fan moment. Hahaha … fan moment? What fun you and the ‘harmless’ kids had in your office looking at those pictures, which had come out so clear, over a plate full of samosas. You published our report and then the DHA and KPT clashed.
But then you left Dawn after giving me a dream. I remember when we ran into each other at a program in 2001 and you almost jumped with joy seeing my Dawn trainee card.
I remember when three years later Mrs Zubeida Mustafa announced her discovery of a writer and responsible assistant in Dawn and her plans of mentoring her, you laughingly informed her that I was your discovery.

Yes, that is true. But I love and respect you both equally.

I remember how after no one at OUP would tell me anything about my manuscript gathering dust in their office for years, I sent it another publisher. And when I got a National Book Foundation award for it, how you dragged Ameena Saiyid to the lunch thrown by Mrs Mustafa at Karachi Gymkhana to celebrate my success.
I remember your presence at all literary functions, me finding a place near you and listening to your remarks on things being said there. You were terrified of asthma attacks and once some four years back I saw you almost leaning on your maid/helper at a book launch. Your telling me that you were getting too old and may not survive the dry winter. I also remember your forgetting about your maid and almost leaving without her after my showing you my Ventolin inhaler and raising our inhalers to each other with a ‘cheers’ before taking a puff. I was glad to have given you confidence for a change that day.
I also remember your getting mad at me for refusing to speak at a program at your school in 2014 due to my awkwardness. But then when I saw you again and hesitated approaching you, your greeting me with a smile again. 
Meeting you was something I have always looked forward to. But today, I avoided to see you because today’s meeting would have forever changed my memories of you. Sorry, Mrs Naushaba Burney, I want to keep you alive in my heart. I refuse to say goodbye ..


By Huma Fatema

I remember Naushaba Aunty since my memory takes me back. She was my mother’s (Zubeida Mustafa) good friend who was also her colleague later on. They knew each other since before I was born. She always came out as a very soft spoken and gentle person to me. Often I would accompany my mother to the Dawn office and I found that Naushaba Aunty would welcome me and always had time to talk to me. She was interested in all that I was doing and would discuss with me as an equal my studies and my love of sports. Today when she is no longer there and I think of Naushaba Aunty, I always recall her as being a very loving, caring and affectionate person. Her leaving us is a big loss for everyone. May her soul rest in peace.


By Naz Ikramullah Ashraf

I FIRST met Naushaba and Rani in Ottawa when they came to an Eid Party given by my parents- this was 1953.The two sisters were very elegantly dressed in saris and much admired by all the young men who were also invited. As teenagers my sister and I followed them around- noting which young man was smitten and by which of the pretty sisters.

Many years later, on my return to Karachi in 1959 I met Naushaba who was pleased to learn I had studied Art and was going to exhibit my work at the PACC. She asked me to make the cover for Women’s World and  WW also reviewed my Exhibition.

After her marriage her two daughters and mine became friends and Naushaba would send them for play dates regularly..they even visited us in Ottawa when they were in Canada.

Naushaba encouraged me by writing about my work in Canada- with photographs on my artwork. This was for Dawn.When I had a mini book launch for Ganga Jamuni my book about shared cultures  she was very supportive and promptly bought a copy.This was about 2 years ago.

My last contact with her was a phone call-and a visit- She phoned because she had bought Rehman Sobhan’s book and reading it reminded her that I was probably in Karachi for my annual  winter visit. She asked me when I could see her, so I invited her for tea- She was not well, she said she’d caught a chill- but she came and we talked -it was wonderful as always.Then Ameena told me she was ill- and for a bit we thought she had recovered- when she left us- I was so very sad- a large part of my life was gone-I will always miss her.


By Sumera Naqvi

IT WAS just yesterday! And I can still feel how so comforting and fulfilling it was to work with none other than the trail blazer women in journalism; with those who had so much to impart!

Mrs Naushaba Burney has left us with cherished memories….memories of the times we spent in Dawn, which lasted almost 22 years. She was then the editor of Dawn’s Sunday Magazine and I had joined the Supplements section. When I met her the first time, I remember how warmly she welcomed me in her office, as if she was just another staffer!

Well that she was certainly not. She was more. She wore a hat of many feathers: a graduate of University of California, Berkeley; teacher at the newly formed Mass Communications department, Karachi University; editor of PIA’s Humsafar magazine; editor of Dawn’s Sunday magazine and then in her last years, head and teacher of English language at a school in Korangi.

But most of all, Mrs Burney touched the heart of those she met with her warmth and a sense of belonging. Those afternoon lunches at Dawn when she would share the savory nihari that she so loved. Nihari was served every Wednesday at the Dawn canteen and we all used to order it to dip the hot-baked swollen naan into the scrumptious gravy, Mrs Burney most generously offering her plate to everyone on the table to have some more while she would intently listen to others chatting away.

But the conversations during the lunches were more than enlightening, because they had a piece of her own humility along with the knowledge that she imparted. I once discussed with her an article on infertility in women. I had gone through the whole drill myself and finally got pregnant and I wanted to write about what a woman feels when she can’t have a baby. “Sumera that’s a brilliant idea; and it is a bold one”, she said, asking me to tell her my story that she was so eager to listen to.

And when I had my babies, she personally came to see me at my home. I was on cloud nine when she came. The article was published a week before, as cover story. I couldn’t believe it. To which Mrs Burney said “It was heartening to read your article and I am happy to have published it!”

Many friends and family had called me to get advice on a rather taboo issue; and I was so grateful to Mrs Burney for giving me that opportunity.

The last time we spoke, which was some years back, she told me that she was very happy to have started teaching kids in a school in Korangi. She had so much to tell, so much to share and so much to enthuse. Mrs Burney had also invited me to visit the school and teach. I couldn’t take that offer due to my work hours, but I wish I had taken out time ….not just to teach there but to spend more time with her….to learn more from her….my loss forever.