Sufia Kamal and a Bangladesh avant-garde artist Sheikh Mohammed Sultan.
Sufia Kamal and Shahidul Alam.
Sufia Kamal reading in her bed in her residence in Dhanmondi. Photo by Shahidul Alam.
During Sufia Kamal's childhood, women's education was prohibited and she could not afford to get academic education. However, she had house tutors who taught her Bengali, Hindi, English, Urdu, Arabic, Kurdish and Persian.
Sufia Kamal started her career as a writer in 1923 when her short story Shainik Bodhu was published in a local paper. She published her first poem, Bashanti (Of Spring), in Saogat magazine in 1926. She became the first Bengali Muslim female to be a member of the Indian Women Federation in 1931. In 1937, she published her first collection of short stories, Keyar Kanta (Thorns of the Keya Tree). Kamal's book of poems, Sanjher Maya (Evening Enchantment), was published in 1938.
Sufia Kamal became the first editor of Begum, a weekly magazine for Muslim women in 1947. In 1948, she became a chairman of Purbo Pakistan Mohila Committee. During the Liberation War in 1971, Sufia Kamal helped women who were hurt during the war. She was also an active member who campaigned for bringing Pakistani war criminals to justice. She passed away on November 20 in 1999 and was the first woman to be given a state funeral in the country.
(Memoirs of the genocide a collection of Bengali poems)1975
Sufia Kamal took an active part in the Bengali language movement. Kamal became a cultural icon in the Bengali nationalist movement of the 1950s and 60s and an important civil society leader in the independence of Bangladesh. She also supported the Soviet Union during the Cold War and was elected as the chairperson of Pak-Soviet Friendship Society in 1966.
Sufia Kamal married Syed Nehal Hossain in 1922. The marriage produced a daughter. Hossain died in 1932. Five years later Sufia Kamal married Kamaluddin Ahmed and bore him four children. Kamaluddin Ahmed died in 1977.