Book Review: Lifting the historical amnesia on Jinnah’s marriage

By Saket Suman

(Title: Mr and Mrs Jinnah – The Marriage That Shook India; Publisher: Penguin India; Price: Rs 699; Pages: 421)

There is something peculiar about the lives of iconic historical personalities, that most of their stories are studied keenly and recorded in both academic and scholarly books, making them almost like open pages that narrate these stories. Yet, for reasons beyond one’s imagination, this book succeeds in delving deeper into the personal life of Pakistan’s Qaid-e-Azam.

“Mr and Mrs Jinnah: The Marriage That Shook India” comes 70 years after the partition of the subcontinent and nearly a century after Jinnah gained prominence by raising the demand for carving Pakistan out of India. What is it that we still do not know about the man?

“Ladke lenge Pakistan” is perhaps about all that is popularly known of Jinnah today — in India, the divisive politician who played the communal card, and the Qaid-e-Azam, who freed the country from both the British and Indians, in Pakistan — but this realisation comes notwithstanding the fact that even today, little is known of Jinnah’s personal life.

Look at Mahatma Gandhi, for instance. While Jinnah and Gandhi were the two most towering figures of their times, today there is no aspect of Gandhi’s life that has not been studied, critiqued and recorded. On the other hand there is an absolute dearth of information regarding Jinnah’s personal life and marriage.

This is where “Mr and Mrs Jinnah: The Marriage That Shook India” comes into play and attempts to break the historical amnesia that most of us suffered from.

A successful barrister and a rising star in the nationalist movement, Mohammad Ali Jinnah was 40 when he fell in love with vivacious Ruttie Petit, the daughter of his good friend and the fabulously rich baronet, Sir Dinshaw Petit.

But Ruttie was just 16 and her outraged father forbade the match and as fate would have it, as soon as Ruttie turned 18, they married. Bombay…

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