A novelist, playwright and spiritualist, Bano Qudsia also popularly known as Bano Aapa was born on 28th November 1928 in Ferozpur, India. She migrated to Lahore with her family after the partition of India and had begun writing short stories while studying in class 5. She graduated from the Kinnaird College in Lahore and then joined the Government College University (Lahore) (GCU) to do her masters in Urdu literature which she completed in 1951.
Qudsia married famous writer Ashfaq Ahmed whom she had met at the Government College University (Lahore). The couple had been considered inseparable in their social lives. Qudsia credits Ashfaq Ahmed for transforming her after their marriage and eventually allowing her to devote to her writing.
Ashfaq Ahmed's autobiography Baba Saheba was incomplete at the time of his death in September 2004. Qudsia completed the biography and the second part of it was published as Rah-i-Rawaan. The contrast in the narrative styles of the couple is evident in these two books; while the first half is considered provoking, lucid and utterly spellbinding by critics, the second half takes the feeling of sorrow.
Qudsia, who wrote Urdu novels, dramas and short stories is best known for her novel Raja Gidh (The King Buzzard) and is considered as a modern Urdu classic. Among her more prominent writings are Aatish-i-zer-i-paa, Aik Din, Amer Bail, Asay Pasay, Chahar Chaman, Chhotaa Sheher Baray Log, Footpath ki Ghaas, Hasil Ghaat and Hawa Kay Naam. Her most famous playwrights include Tamasil, Hawa ke Naam, Seharay and Khaleej. She also wrote for television and stage in both Urdu and Punjabi languages.
Her critically acclaimed classic play Aadhi Baat was about a retired headmaster and his day to day life problems. With Qavi Khan playing the lead character, the play was directed by Agha Nasir and produced by Tauqeer Nasir and performed at the three-day selective event organized by the Pakistan National Council of the Arts in May 2010 at Islamabad.
Qudsia’s latest novel Haasil Ghaat was published in 2005 and was noted for its diction but also criticized then for usages of English slangs than her usual traditional Urdu narrative. The language however became popular amongst other writers in future.
In 1983, Qudsia was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan. In 2010, she was awarded the Hilal-i-Imtiaz by the government for her services in literature. In 2012, Bano Qudsia was awarded the Kamal-e-Fun Award, a life time achievement award, for the year 2010 by the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL). In 2016, the GCU’s Old Ravians Union (GCU-ORU) at its annual reunion conferred lifetime achievement award. The same year, the Pakistan Life Care Foundation (PLCF) also awarded the lifetime achievement award to Qudsia.
Bano Qudsia died on 4 February 2017 at the Ittefaq Hospital in Lahore at the age of 88. She was buried at Lahore on 5 February and prayer services were held at Model Town, Lahore. Qudsia and Ashfaq Ahmed left behind three sons Aneeque, Anees and Aseer.