Rabeya Khatun, one of the legendary novelists and last remaining connoisseurs of Bengali literature, passed away on Sunday at the age of 85.
According to her family sources, the eminent novelist passed away at her Banani residence due to old-age complications.
Her body was taken at Bangla Academy from 12 pm on Monday, where people from all walks of life paid their last respects to the Independence Award and Ekushey Padak-winning novelist at a public mourning programme organised by the Academy. Her namaz-e-janaza took place at 3pm at the Channel i premise in the capital. She was then laid to rest at Banani Graveyard, after Asr prayers.
Rabeya Khatun was born on December 27, 1935 to Maulavi Mohammad Mulluk Chand and Hamida Khatun in Bikrampur in the then British India (now Munshiganj District, Bangladesh). In her illustrious career spanning over 60 years, Rabeya Khatun wrote over 50 novels and more than 400 short-stories featuring versatile topics. She also wrote a handful of travel blogs.
Khatun’s first story Proshno was published in the weekly Juger Dabi magazine and her novel Rajarbagh was published in Begum magazine. She wrote her first novel Madhumati in 1963, depicting the handloom artists’ struggles in a fictional narrative, which cemented her position as a women novelist in the country. Ekattorer Noy Maash (1990) is one of her most significant creations, which she wrote as a memoir of the War of Liberation in 1971. Three of her books were adopted as feature films - Kokhono Megh Kokhono Brishti (2003), Megher Pore Megh (2004) and Madhumati (2011).
Also worked as a journalist, Khatun worked at the Khawatin magazine edited by Jahanara Imam. She then worked as the editor of the literature section of the magazine Cinema along with legendary filmmaker Zahir Raihan and later became the editor of the monthly Angana in the 1950s.
Rabeya Khatun married ATM Fazlul Haque on July 23, 1952 (passed away on 1990) a journalist, critic and filmmaker who was the director of the movie President, the first-ever film for children in Bangladesh. She is survived by her four children who also became prominent personalities in the country. Her elder son Faridur Reza Sagar is the current managing director of Impress Telefilm Limited and Channel i, elder daughter Keka Ferdousi is a noted chef and television cooking show host, Farhadur Reza Probal is an architect and her youngest daughter Farhana Kakoly is a homemaker.
For her immense contribution in Bengali literature, Rabeya Khatun was awarded Bangla Academy Literary Award in 1973, Ekushey Padak in 1993 and Independence Day Award in 2017 by the Government of Bangladesh. She also received several other prizes including Humayun Kabir Memorial Award in 1989, Kamar Mushtaree Sahitya Puraskar in 1994, Lekhika Sangha Award in 1994, Nasiruddin Gold Medal in 1995, Sher-e-Bangla Gold Medal in 1996, Jasimuddin Award in 1996, Shapla-Doyel Award in 1996, Wrishiz Sahitya Padak in 1998, Sheltech Award in 2002, URO Shishu Sahitya Award in 2003, Michael Madhusudan Award in 2005, Geetanjali Sanmanana Padak in 2015 and more.