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The other side of Quaid

Published Dec 25, 2012 09:27am


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—File Photo

Jinnah carried his leadership with grace until the end of his days. He knew he had to lead by example.

As governor-general, he cancelled the orders for a car and an aircraft because the Pakistan exchequer could not afford them. He would not instal a lift despite his old age. He would ensure that the lights were put out before he retired to his bedroom.

Like his name, the life of the great leader also had three distinct chapters. Each one is richer, more remarkable and more inspiring that the one before. Several books have tried to describe his life and chose to speak about his legal and political life instead. Not much is known about his personal life probably because he was a very private person. But once in a while you chance upon a gemstone and cant help but marvel at the fact that from Ali to Muhammad to Jinnah, he always had the makings of a statesman, a leader, and a gentleman. And under the frail exterior was a strong heart that knew how to love, how to lose, and how to find reasons again to go on.

While he was young and living in Karachi, Ali avoided playing in the street with other boys of his age. Whatever games they played were physical, and would cause a bruise, a fight, or stain clothes in the least. He being to meticulous and mature for his age liked to keep his clothes unspoiled and his hands clean. In ‘Jinnah, Creator of Pakistan’ published in 1954, writer Hector Bolitho interviewed several people that knew Ali as a boy. He recounts an anecdote that Nanji Jafar, one of Ali’s neighbours from childhood, narrated to him. “I was playing in the street when he, aged about fourteen, came up to me and said, ‘Don’t play marbles in the dust; it soils your clothes and dirties your hands. We must play cricket.’” The fact that the boys dropped the marbles and followed him shows that Ali could be persuasive.

As destiny was about to send him to London to further his studies, his mother asked him to wed Emi Bai. While in London, his mother would die and he would miss the funeral. Ali would not be able to see her face one last time before she was buried and he would regret this for the rest of his life. But for now, he complied with the wishes of his mother and let this be one of the very few decisions he allowed others to make for him. His stay in England instilled in him an English style and behaviour that would continue to his death. His imitation of the upper class Englishmen in India was so accurate that it made them uncomfortable.

In London in 1892, Ali didn’t indulge in pastimes or hobbies. He closed the doors on temptations of art and history. He listened to lectures at Lincoln’s Inn and debates in the House of Commons, ignoring the National Gallery on the way. He didn’t know he was creating a void in himself. Meanwhile, in London in 1892 in the evenings, Ali would invest his time and emotions into understanding Shakespeare. This investment would pay off years later when he would enter Indian politics and would have to deal with people who behaved as if they’d just walked off the pages of the Bard’s plays.

Ruttie Bai was 16 and Muhammad was 39 when they first met in 1916. With an active interest in politics and absolute love for poetry she was intellectually far more mature than other girls of her age. She would often recite from Oscar Wilde, her favourite writer. An aggressive supporter of India for Indians, Ruttie was an excellent horse rider, attended all public meetings, and was passionate for all forms of arts. Cerebral and mercurial, she was the kind of companion Muhammad had always sought. As Muhammad became successful in politics, he also became religious. He studied the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This added even more depth and wisdom to his arguments and vision. He spoke of the Prophet as “as a great statesman, and a great leader.” Over time, he started quoting philosophies of the Prophet and adding religious angled to his speeches where appropriate.

Muhammad also became simpler in his taste of clothing and eating. His favourite food was curry and rice. He always smoked his favourite Craven A cigarettes, one of the finest and the most expensive at the time. His wealth gave him independence and freedom to speak his mind. Which brings us to another story about Mohammad from Bolitho’s book: even at the beginning of his legal practice, he neither put up with improper behaviour nor would he tolerate a slight. During a hearing, an English magistrate found him to be overbearing and reminded him that he was addressing a first class magistrate. He was swiftly served a simmering reply by Muhammad that the advocate in him was of no lesser class.

The rapidly changing political scenario of the 1930’s slowly transformed Muhammad into Mr. Jinnah. With resolve, conviction, and integrity he earned the respect of even the most intense opponents. Despite the differences and bitterness of political life was he was considered to be a man without malice. And he never minced words. Especially when addressing those in power.

By late 1930’s, Jinnah had adopted the local dress but did not entirely give up his Western clothes. For a headdress he opted for a Karakul hat. He instinctively chose the right clothes to make a cultural and a political statement and created a modern Muslim identity.

After Ruttie Bai’s death in 1929, Jinnah’s personal life narrowed down to his daughter Dina. He loved her dearly and brought her up with the help of his sister Fatima Jinnah. Concurrently, he became more involved in politics and did not rest until he fulfilled his promise of an independent homeland to millions of Muslims and died of devotion to his cause in 1948.

Jinnah was a visionary who did not allow personal problems to blur his vision. Still, there were occasions when even he could not hold himself back. And they both involved his wife.

The first time he was at her burial where Jinnah remained silent and motionless throughout the ceremony. When he was asked to bid his final goodbye to Ruttie Bai by throwing earth on her grave, the human weakness probably took over for the first time for he broke down and wept.

Turning his back to Ruttie Bai’s grave, Jinnah left behind three of the most important things that would give any ordinary loving heart a reason to go on: his beloved wife Rutti who remains buried in Bombay, his daughter Dina who couldn’t see how much her father had suffered already and the Jinnah House on Malabar Hill.


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Comments (19) Closed

Derek Dec 25, 2012 05:46pm
Another version of Jinnah's life. I think there is a great deal of spin in this article. Many crucial points in this article are simply not true. Jinnah was not religious, eary or late in his life. When he failed as a politician, he turned from Mr Jinnah to Mohammad ali Jinnah and became the points person of the idea of 2 nation theory (here he was not a original thinker, he just assumed the mantle of the leadership vaccum of Muslim league) and played a crucial role in the partition of India. His relationship with Ruttie Bai or Maryam Jinnah is very well known. Please dont write up things to suit some political ideology. 64 years after all that has happened, and the results of that outcome in 1947-48, I simply dont see any maturity in this piece.
Krish Chennai Dec 25, 2012 05:18pm
Surprisingly the concluding lines appear inappropriate. It says his wife Ruttie "remains buried" in Bombay. That would infer it should be transported to the rightful location, meaning, by the mausoleum of the Quaid in Pakistan ?? So also,it says, "his daughter Dina who couldn't see how much her father had suffered already" ! Dina is very aged now,and still alive, And difficult to imagine a scenario where a daughter would deliberately cause anguish to a father - some wrong interpretation there. She did visit Pakistan and pay her obeisance during the funeral of the Quaid, in September 1948, and just once again on a private visit, along with her children ( the Quaid's grandchildren ) in 2004. As far as Jinnah House in Malabar Hill, Mumbai is concerned, she laid claim to it as her Father's Daughter, that it should rightfully be hers. The last Pakistani leader to claim that it should rightfully belong to Pakistan, is former President Pervez Musharraf, but then, he himself cannot comfortably stay in his own country. I am not critical of the values that the Quaid ( incidentally an encomium bestowed on him by Gandhi ), stood for, but certainly I have doubts whether the decisions taken by him, did in practice, ensue in the greatest good for the greatest number, in our sub-continent. I do hope Dawn will publish this note !
Cynical Dec 25, 2012 11:07am
Nothing that is not already known.
Dr. Rizwan Dec 25, 2012 09:45am
great man, no words to express his greatness
mansoor Dec 25, 2012 04:03pm
I only knew Quaid as what was taught in Pakistan Studies in school days. I started loving and respected this mortal more when one of my indian friend in UK narrated something, which i never knew or which could not reveal to me that aspect of quaids life if could not have met my friend Abhi singh. He narrated that when Quaid after completing his education returned to Karachi, and started his practice, went for an interview with a law firm, which was run and owned by a Hindu lawyer. Quaid demanded Rs:100 for that job, however, the lawyer, offered him Rs:70 only to which quaid did not accept. Quaid continued his practice but could not be successful, went to Bombay and started practice and soon rose to prominence, this was the turning point in the history of subcontinent as it was this man who fought the case of an independent country. At this point my Abhi said that hindu lawyer is criminal of hindus as if he would have offered Jinnah an empolyment, for Rs: 100, he would have spent his life in calculations and thiking about his income and not of an independence as it is only free and independent mind could think of an independence not an employed one.
B R Chawla Dec 25, 2012 03:36pm
The only one leader Pakistan can boast of. The one whose ideals were never followed. Rather defied? Secularism propagated by him became causality soon after his death. for example. He was a Shia himself but Shia are being killed. He was a liberal but pakistan is intolerant. What right you have to call him your own. Chawla
HS Dec 25, 2012 03:01pm
I wish there were more leaders like the Quaid. Mankind is blessed with examples of so many great leaders from the past. Yet we seem to find the worst of them around us.
AHMAD Dec 25, 2012 06:15pm
I have read lots of books on Mr. Jinnah, mostly by Britishers and non muslims. They paint a color of arrogance instead of his "unique class" and out of touch instead of being "reserve and serious" man. He was very sophisticated and eloquent. I met several people in Pakistan who knew him and worked for him as civil servants. All of them described him as a gentleman and kind man. Look how we are behaving, opposite to Mr. Jinnah's practice and beliefs. I remember very well as a young boy, lived opposite to governor house where he used to stay while in Quetta. When he died my father wept on his passing. I wonder how my father would have felt today to see Pakistanis behaving like animals. He left a good life and his family in India, just to raise his children in Islamic country. My father worked very hard for his new country and lived on very minimum. But he was a happy man and proud to be a Pakistani.
Bharath Dec 25, 2012 06:39pm
Jinna is a great leader and securalist, but he made muslims lives miserable by dividing pakistan from India, now pakistan became a failed state becoz of religious extremists. Indian muslims are leave in peace than pakistani people.
Soul of Manto Dec 25, 2012 07:59pm
Other side of Jinnah? He has so many sides, that it is humanly impossible to explore all of them. No one in the history of humanity could have inspired creation of three countries (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) out of one. All the citizens of these three countries should remain eternally grateful to this great son of the soil.
TKhan Dec 26, 2012 12:14am
Yet, totally ignored and forgotten! Shame.
anwar kamal Dec 26, 2012 02:54am
Jinnah was atheistic.
hjuo Dec 26, 2012 04:16am
Very well written, A treat to intellectual mind .
Sagar Dec 26, 2012 04:26am
Nothing new in the article. All is known already.
Nony Dec 26, 2012 04:42am
good one.... could have been more detailed
Hornet Dec 26, 2012 04:44am
If you knew all these then why didn't you pick up a pen and wrote all these things yourself. Instead of thanking the writer you are trying to be over smart. May be nothing new for you but for many of us who are never told about the character of this great leader it's a blessing.
MKB Dec 26, 2012 05:52am
Why writer did not not mention that Ruttie Bai is a Parsi Gujrati and a daughter of Jinnah's rich claint. The marraige was against the wishes of the father of Ruttie Bai. Dina refuses to accompany him to Pakistan.
Soul of Manto Dec 26, 2012 10:17am
Contd.... Specially India and Bangladesh.
Cynical Dec 26, 2012 09:42pm
Ruttie Bai's father was not only a rich client, but also a close friend of Jinnah. One evening out of the blue Jinnah asked Ruttie's father, 'What's your view on inter religious marriage?' Ruttie's father understandably was taken aback without having a context. It didn't take him long to realise that his friend Jinnah was asking for his daughter's hand. As the caption of this article suggests and I seconded it earlier, the great man had so many sides about him.