Of Jin­nah and His Child Bride


BASED ON years of re­search, and us­ing Rut­tie Jin­nah’s pre­vi­ously un­pub­lished let­ters and other fas­ci­nat­ing new source ma­te­rial, in­clud­ing Jin­nah’s let­ters and per­sonal notes and that of their friends, Mr and Mrs Jin­nah: The Mar­riage That Shook In­dia by Sheela Reddy ex­am­ines Jin­nah’s per­sonal life and mar­riage, recre­at­ing the era when the ro­mance be­tween the daz­zling cou­ple, MA Jin­nah and the young and beau­ti­ful Rut­tie, was the talk of the town. Jin­nah, the suc­cess­ful bar­ris­ter, was 40 when he fell in love with Rut­tie Petit, daugh­ter of his friend, Sir Din­shaw Petit, a Parsi mill owner. But, Rut­tie was just 16 and her out­raged fa­ther for­bade the match. When Rut­tie turned le­gal, the cou­ple got mar­ried, scan­dal­is­ing the so­ci­ety of Bom­bay. Ev­ery­one sided with the Petits, and Rut­tie and Jin­nah were os­tracised. Their union was be­lieved to be short-term. But, Jin­nah, in his un­demon­stra­tive, re­served way, was un­mis­tak­ably devoted to his beau­ti­ful, way­ward child-bride—as proud of her fash­ion­able dress­ing as he was of her in­tel­li­gence, wide read­ing, and fierce com­mit­ment to the na­tion­al­ist strug­gle. Rut­tie, on her part, wor­shipped him, and could tease and ca­jole the fa­mously un­bend­ing Jin­nah, whom so many peo­ple found in­tim­i­dat­ing and dis­tant. But, as the tu­mul­tuous po­lit­i­cal events in­creas­ingly ab­sorbed him, Rut­tie felt iso­lated and alone, cut off from her fam­ily, friends and com­mu­nity. The un­remit­ting ef­fort of sub­mit­ting her per­son­al­ity to Jin­nah’s, his fre­quent cold­ness, pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with pol­i­tics and the law took its toll. She, also called Flower Lady of Mum­bai, died at 29, leav­ing be­hind her daugh­ter, Dina, and an in­con­solable hus­band, who never mar­ried again. Can’t wait to get hold of this tome.

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