Kulsoom Zeb says she wants a free life for all women, but freedom doesn't mean crossing all the boundaries.

Salman Yousafzai

PESHAWAR: A girl who can’t eat or wear according to her choice and her consent is not sought even for her marriage then how can she imagine expressing her feelings and observations in shape of poetry?

Eminent Pashto literary figure Kalsoom Zeb asks this question, and then replies herself that entry to the field of poetry is as difficult for Pakhtun women as in other fields, but if a woman has the courage and determination, then she can do anything.

Kalsoom Zeb said in an interview with TNN that she gained fame and respect in the field of literature and poetry, but her journey was very difficult and she faced a lot of harships.

The 50-year-old writer and poetess from Maneri area of Swabi started poetry when she was a student of seventh grade and now she has published four books of her poetry collections. Kalsoom Zeb was a teacher by profession, and she retired from service after 30-year employment. Besides Master’s degree in Urdu Literature, she also had degrees of B.Ed and M.Sc. She wrote poetry books Tagi Stergi (Thirstry Eyes) and Zalanda Sabawoon (Bright Morning), and Urdu prose Lamsa Hayat, and Pashto stories collection Tor Gulab (Black Rose), which got a lot of fame among the followers of Pashto and Urdu literature.

Kalsoom Zeb said there are hundreds of women who have been gifted with talent of poetry and writing, but the fear of society is holding them back.

“I won’t accept that a woman can’t do good poetry. Many woman here have kept their talent hidden. Such women afraid from husband, father, brother and even their children,” she said.

She said it is very difficult for a woman in a conservative set up to present her poetry at a platform. However, she said, she was very lucky in this respect. She said she was lucky to be married to a person who supported her all the way and never imposed any unnecessary restriction. She said most women in our society are victim of mistrust of men and that is why their talent remains hidden.

Kalsoom Zeb participates in literary gatherings in different parts of the country and she has also formed a literary body ‘Da Khwendo Adabi Lakhkar’ to provide platform to poetesses and writers to display their talent. She said she also hosts a weekly radio program about Pakhtun culture. She said she also served briefly as a host in a local TV channel.

Kalsoom told TNN that she want a free life for all women, but freedom doesn’t mean crossing all the boundaries.
“I have drawn a line for myself to fulfill my dream while remaining under our religious and cultural norms. Women don’t need any mentor. They must decide their boundaries themselves, and must not cross these boundaries come what may,” she said.