Quaid-i-Azam Private Life and Family
Birth and Schooling
Jinnah's father Jinnahbhai Poonja
(born 1850) was the youngest of three sons. He married a girl Mithibai
with the consent of his parents and moved to the growing port of Karachi.
There, the young couple rented an apartment on the second floor of a
three-storey house, Wazir Mansion. The Wazir Mansion has since been
rebuilt and made into a national monument and museum owing to the fact
that the founder of the nation, and one of the greatest leaders of all
times was born within its walls.
On December 25, 1876, Mithibai gave birth to a son, the first of seven children. The fragile infant who appeared so weak that it 'weighed a few pounds less than normal'. But Mithibai was unusually fond of her little boy, insisting he would grow up to be an achiever.
Officially named Mahomedali Jinnahbhai, his father enrolled him in school when he was six -- the Sindh Madrasatul-Islam; Jinnah was indifferent to his studies and loathed arithmetic, preferring to play outdoors with his friends. His father was especially keen towards his studying arithmetic as it was vital in his business. By the early 1880s' Jinnahbhai Poonja's trade business had prospered greatly. He handled all sorts of goods: cotton, wool, hides, oil-seeds, and grain for export. Whereas Manchester manufactured piece of goods, metals, refined sugar and used to import into the busy port. Business was good and profits were soaring high.
In 1887, Jinnahbhai's only sister
came to visit from Bombay. Jinnah was very fond of his Aunt and vice
versa. She offered to take her nephew back with her in order to give him a
chance of better education at the metropolitan city Bombay, that was much
to his mother's dismay who could not bear the thought of being separated
from her undisputedly favorite child. Jinnah joined Gokal Das Tej Primary
School in Bombay. His spirited brain rebelled inside the typical Indian
primary school which relied mostly on the method of learning by rote. He
remained in Bombay for only six months, returned to Karachi upon his
mother's insistence and joined the Sind Madrassa. But his name was struck
off as he frequently cut classes in order to ride his father's horses. He
was fascinated by the horses and lured towards them. He also enjoyed
reading poetry at his own leisure. As a child Jinnah was never intimidated
by the authority and was not easy to control.
He then joined the Christian Missionary Society High School where his parents thought his restless mind could be focused.
Karachi proved more prosperous for young Jinnah than Bombay had been. His father's business had prospered so much by this time that he had his own stables and carriages. Jinnahbhai Poonja's firm was closely associated with the leading British managing agency in Karachi, Douglas Graham and Company. Sir Frederick Leigh Croft, the general manager of the company, had a great influence over young Jinnah, which possibly lasted his entire life.
Jinnah looked up to the handsome, well dressed and a successful man. Sir Frederick liked Mamad, recognizing his extreme potential, he offered him an apprenticeship at his office in London. That kind of opportunity was the dream of all young boys of India, but the privilege went to only one in a million. Sir Frederick had truly picked one in a million when he chose Jinnah
|When Jinnah's mother heard of his plans of going to London for at least two years, she objected strongly to such a move. For her, the separation for six months while her dear son had been in Bombay was testing, she said that she could not bear this long never ending stretch of two to three years. Maybe the intuition told her that separation would be permanent for her and that she would never see her son again.After much persuasion by adamant Jinnah, she consented, but with the condition that Jinnah would marry before he went to England. 'England', she said 'was a dangerous country to send an unmarried and handsome young man like her son. Some English girl might lure him into marriage and that would be a tragedy for the Jinnah Poonja family.' Realizing the importance of his mother's demand, Jinnah conceded to it.Mithibai arranged his marriage with a fourteen-year-old girl named Emibai from the Paneli village. The parents made all wedding arrangements. The young couple quietly accepted the arranged marriage including all other decisions regarding the wedding like most youngsters in India at that time.|
Mohammad was hardly sixteen and had
never seen the girl he was to marry.' Jinnah's sister Fatima reports.
'Decked from head to foot in long flowing garlands of flowers, he walked
in a procession from his grand-father's house to that of his
father-in-law, where his fourteen year old bride, Emi Bai, sat in an
expensive bridal dress, wearing glittering ornaments, her hands spotted
with henna, her face spotted with gold dust and redolent with the
fragrance of attar.' The ceremony took place in February 1892; it was a
grand affair celebrated by the whole village. Huge lunch and dinner
parties were arranged and all were invited. It was the wedding of
Jinnahbhai Poonja and Mithibai's first son and the entire village was
lured into the festivity.
During their prolonged stay in Paneli, Jinnahbhai's business began to suffer. It was needed for him to return but he wished to take his family and his son's new bride along with him. The bride's father however, was adamant that Jinnah should stay for the customary period of one and a half month after marriage. The two families, newly bonded in marriage, were about to break into a quarrel until the intervention of young Jinnah. He spoke to his father-in-law in privacy and informed him that it was necessary for his father to return immediately along with his family. He gave the option of either sending the young bride back with him or sending her later when he would go to England for two or three years. Jinnah's persuasive power, coupled with extreme politeness was evident even at that age. Emi Bai's father consented to send his daughter, and the wedding party returned to Karachi.
How Jinnah felt about that marriage and his new bride was uncertain, he had little time to adjust since he sailed off to England soon after his return. Upon their return to Karachi, his young bride observed the custom of covering her face with her headscarf in front of her father-in-law. But the progressive Jinnah soon encouraged her to discard this practice.He studied in the Christian Mission School until the end of October in order to improve his English before his voyage that was planned by November 1892, though some argue that he sailed in January 1893. He was not to see his young bride ever again as she died soon after he sailed from India.
A Journey to London
Jinnah barely sixteen sailed for
London in the midst of winter. When he was saying goodbye to his mother
her eyes were heavy with tears. He told her not to cry and said: 'I will
return a great man from England and not only you and the family but the
whole country will be proud of me. Would you not be happy then?' This was
the last time he saw his mother, for she, like his wife, died during his
three and a half year stay in England.
The youngest passenger on his own, was befriended by a kind Englishman who engaged in conversations with him and gave tips about life in England. He also gave Jinnah his address in London and later invited to dine with his family as often as he could.His father had deposited enough money in his son's account to last him the three years of the intended stay. Jinnah used that money wisely and was able to have a small amount left over at the end of his three and a half year tenure. When he arrived in London he rented a modest room in a hotel. He lived in different places before he moved into the house of Mrs. F. E. Page-Drake as a houseguest at 35 Russell Road in Kensington. This house now displays a blue and white ceramic oval saying that the 'founder of Pakistan stayed here in 1895'.
Mrs. Page- Drake, a widow, took an instant liking to the impeccably dressed well-mannered young man. Her daughter however, had a more keen interest in the handsome Jinnah, who was of the same age of Jinnah. She hinted her intentions but did not get a favorable response. As Fatima reflects, "…he was not the flirtatious type and she could not break through his reserve."
On March 30, 1895 Jinnah applied to Lincoln's Inn Council for the alteration of his name the Books of Society from Mahomedalli Jinnahbhai to Mahomed Alli Jinnah, which he anglicized to M.A. Jinnah. This was granted to him in April 1895.Though he found life in London dreary at first and was unable to accept the cold winters and gray skies, he soon adjusted to those surroundings, quite the opposite of what he was accustomed to in India.
After joining Lincoln's Inn in June 1893, he developed further interest in politics. He thought the world of politics was 'glamorous' and often went to the House of Commons and marveled at the speeches he heard there. Although his father was furious when he learnt of Jinnah's change in plan regarding his career, there was little he could do to alter what his son had made his mind up for. At that point in life Jinnah was totally alone in his decisions, with no moral support from his father or any help from Sir Frederick. He was left with his chosen course of action without a pillar of support to fall back upon. It would not be the only time in his life when he would be isolated in a difficult position. But without hesitation he set off on his chosen task and managed to succeed.
|After his return to India Jinnah chose Bombay for his residence since he no longer had any intrest in Karachi after the demise of his mother and his wife. His father joined him there and died in Bombay on the 17th of April 1902, soon after Jinnah had started his political career.In the next two decades after his return from London, Jinnah established himself first as a lawyer and then as a politician. Devoted completely to his work he sailed between England and India and from one stage of his political career to the next. Jinnah vacationed in the north in Darjeeling in 1916, staying at the summer home of his friend Sir Dinshaw Manockjee Petit, the son of one of the richest and most devoutly orthodox Parsi of the nineteenth century. It was in that summer that he met Dinshaw's only daughter Ratanbai. Born on February 20, 1900, Ratanbai, or Rutti as she used to be called, was a charming child. '…Precociously bright, gifted in every art, beautiful in everyway. As she matured, all of her talents, gifts and beauty were magnified in so delightful and unaffected a manner that she seemed a fairy princess' - Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan.|
She was sixteen at that time and Jinnah was about forty. He was enamored
by her beauty and charm and she was awe struck by Jay, as she called him.
Jinnah spoke to Sir Dinshaw about inter-communal marriages, to which his
friend had replied that he was not opposed to them. When Jinnah put forth
his offer of a marriage proposal for his daughter Ruttie, Sir Dinshaw was
taken aback. He refused bluntly and said there was no chance of his ever
agreeing to such a thing. That was the end of their friendship as Sir
Dinshaw never gave in. He forbade Ruttie to meet Jinnah while she lived in
his house. The couple patiently waited for two years required for Ruttie
to come of age. In February 1918 Ruttie turned 18 and was free to marry.
On April 18, 1918 Ruttie converted to Islam at Calcutta's Jamia Mosque. On
April 19, 1918 Jinnah and Ruttie married at a quiet ceremony at Jinnah's
house in Bombay. The Raja Sahib of Muhamdabad and a few friends attended
the wedding. The wedding ring that Jinnah presented to Ruttie was a gift
from the Raja. Nobody from Ruttie's family attended the wedding.
The first few years of their marriage were a dream for both of them. They were a head- turning couple; he in his elegant suits, stitched in London, she with her long, flowing hair decked in flowers. There was no limit to their joy and satisfaction at that time. Their only woe was Ruttie's complete isolation and ostracism from her family.
Jinnah's political life began to take its toll on his time in 1922. His heavy work schedule did not allow him to spend enough time with his young and vibrant wife. Though she was supportive of his work, the element of his lack of time was taxing for her. She could not lure him away from his work. She was engulfed with feelings of desolation. By September of 1922 she packed her bags and took their only daughter Dina with her to London.
Though her heart was still set on life with Jinnah, she could not accommodate herself to his busy schedule. From London she wrote a letter to her friend Kanji in India in which she said: 'And just one thing more - go and see Jinnah and tell me how he is - he has a habit of overworking himself and now that I am not there to tease and bother him, he will be worse than ever .'
When she returned from England, the couple tried to give their marriage another chance, but Jinnah was involved in campaigning for elections as an independent Muslim for the general Bombay seat. Jinnah was to undergo a five-month tour to Europe and North America. He decided to take Ruttie along as an attempt to save their failing marriage. But in this trip the rift grew. There was no chance of reconciliation and in January 1928 the couple separated.
Ruttie lived at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay, almost as a recluse, her health failing drastically. On February 20, 1929, Ruttie Jinnah died. It was her 29th birthday.
She was buried two days later in Bombay according to Muslim rites. Jinnah sat like a stone statue throughout the funeral. But when asked to be the first to throw earth on the grave as the closest relative, Jinnah broke down and wept uncontrollably. Later Justice Chagla said, 'That was the only time when I found Jinnah betraying any shadow of human weakness.'
Jinnah had been good to his wife. He had been a doting husband, fulfilling the demands of his young and enthusiastic wife. She also, had played her part justly, had supported him and encouraged him in his career. But the lack of time fatefully pulled them so far apart that eventually no reconciliation was possible. The time of their separation was a trying one for Jinnah, in the photographs of this period he is never seen smiling.
|Exactly 28 years before the birth of Pakistan, Dina was born on August 14, 1919 at midnight. Jinnah's only child, she was his sole comfort after the death of his wife. Though away at school most of the time, she was home briefly for holidays. A dark eyed beauty, she was a charming young girl. She had her mother's smile and was pampered by her doting father. After her mother's death, Fatima took the responsibility of her care.While living in London, Dina would cajole and pester her father to take her to a pantomime on High Road insisting that she was on holidays and must be entertained. The time was a blissful one spent in London. But they later grew apart, Dina never joined her father in Pakistan. She came to Karachi only for his funeral.|
The relationship was marred by the
fact that Dina wanted to marry a Parsi-born Christian, Neville Wadia.
Jinnah tried to dissuade her, just like Sir Dinshaw had tried to influence
his daughter many years ago, but to no avail. Justice Chagla recalls, "
Jinnah, in his usual imperious manner, told her that there were millions
of Muslim boys in India, and she could have anyone she chose. Then the
young lady…replied: 'Father, there were millions of Muslim girls in India.
Why did you not marry one of them?'
The relationship became formal after she married. They did correspond, he addressed her formally as 'Mrs. Wadia'.
Dina and Neville lived in Bombay and had two children, a boy and a girl. Shortly after that they separated.
Though isolated in many ways, Jinnah was always cared for by his sister Fatima who kept house for him and nursed him till his death. She was his sole companion, never faltering, always present for him in the time of need.
Copyright © 2000
QAISAR WAHEED AHMAD