City-based writer Rita Shahani dies

Acclaimed city-based writer Rita Shahani, who has a fan following on either side of the India-Pakistan border, breathed her last on Sunday morning following a prolonged illness. She was 79.

Writing in Sindhi, Hindi and Urdu, Shahani's oeuvre included poetry, novels, travelogues, literary criticism, biographies, autobiography, historical fantasy and spiritual writing. She has 41 books to her credit, written and published since 1979 when she started her career. Shahani won several awards and spoke at various academic forums and represented Sindhi literature in anthologies even though the language witnessing a slow decline in India. Her works have been translated into English and other Indian languages.

Through the years one has seen ups and downs in the relationship between midnight's children, the twin countries born in the subcontinent in 1947. In contrast, Shahani's popularity in Sindh, Pakistan, has steadily grown. On Monday, newspapers published in Sindh carried lavish eulogies of her.

"Her passing away signals the fading of a rainbow bridge between the neighboring countries. One must hope that literature and arts continue to open doors and windows in our minds and hearts so that we can diffuse and dilute hostilities not only across both sides of the border but in other parts of the world where there has been sustained low-intensity conflicts, claiming thousands of young lives over generations," said Madhavi Kapur, founder of Aman Setu School and Shahani's daughter.

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