Khatun, Khodeja

Khatun, Khodeja (1917-1990) educationist, writer and social worker, was born on 15 August 1917 in a middle-class family in the village of Mandaldharan in bogra district. She was the second Muslim woman of Bengal, after Nawab Fazilatunnessa, to obtain a Master's degree in Bangla from the University of Dhaka (1939). She began her career in 1941 as a lecturer in lady brabourne college, Kolkata. She migrated to Dhaka in 1947. From 1960 to 1968, she served as a professor of Bangla at eden mohila college and from 1968 to 1972 as principal of the Government Women's College, rajshahi. In March 1972 she returned to Eden College as principal.

Apart from teaching, Khodeja Khatun also wrote many poems, short stories and essays. Her first book of poems, Bedonar ei Baluchare, was published in 1963. She wrote several short stories which were collected in Shes Praharer Alo (1969) and Ekti Sur Ekti Gan (1982). She also wrote stories for children: Rupkathar Rajye (1963) and Sagarika (1969). She travelled a lot and recorded her travel accounts in her Bhindeshi Sera Galpa (1984) and Amar Dirgha Bhraman (1985). She wrote a number of literary essays, which were published in various academic journals. She also edited a number of anthologies such as the Shatapuspa (3 vols), (1984, 1989 and 1990). She was interest in folk literature, as evidenced in her Bagurar Lokasahitya (1970).

Khodeja Khatun was associated with many social welfare activities. In 1974 she was a member of the Dhaka University Senate and from 1977 to 1985 she was president of the Bangladesh Women Writers Association. She was also a member of the Bangladesh National Women's Organisation, the Academic Council of Rajshahi University, bangla academy and Eskaton Ladies Club. She established an Islamic Women's College in Dhaka.

Khodeza received several awards which include President's Gold Medal for education (1967), the Nurunnessa Khatun Vidyabinodini Medal for literature (1977) and the Abdur Razzak Memorial Medal awarded by the Rajshahi branch of the Bangladesh Women Writers Association for her essays (1984). The Eskaton Ladies Club also gave her a citation in 1985. She died on 3 February 1990. [Md Masud Parvez]