Cul­tured, grace­ful and a woman of sub­stance

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Lucknow - JAYANT KRISHNA

Cul­tured and grace­ful, Begum Hamida Habibul­lah was truly a woman of sub­stance who in­spired many peo­ple for lead­ing a pur­pose­ful ex­is­tence.

Af­ter In­dia’s in­de­pen­dence, she had been the face of pro­gres­sive In­dian Mus­lim women and en­cour­aged thou­sands of girls to em­power them­selves with eco­nomic free­dom.

She was un­doubt­edly the pride of Luc­know and one of its most iconic women. In Shake­spearean lan­guage, all the world has been a stage for the Begum and she had por­trayed var­i­ous roles with a deep sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity and dig­nity. With her pass­ing away, an era has in­deed come to an end as God sel­dom makes peo­ple with such a per­sona.

Begum Habibul­lah was an MLA, a Ra­jya Sabha MP, a UP govern­ment min­is­ter, the chair­per­son of SEWA, the pres­i­dent of Tal­im­gah-e-Niswan and the pres­i­dent of Awadh Girls’ De­gree Col­lege. A close fam­ily friend of Indira Gandhi, she was also a mem­ber of the All-In­dia Congress Com­mit­tee.

She spent her child­hood in Hy­der­abad where her fa­ther Nazir Yar Jung Ba­hadur was the Chief Jus­tice, high court. Mar­riage to Maj. Gen. Enaith Habibul­lah brought her to Luc­know who went on to be­come the first Com­man­dant of Na­tional De­fence Academy. Over the years, the Begum be­came an em­bod­i­ment of the Ganga-Ja­muni cul­ture.

Hav­ing passed Se­nior Cam­bridge with dis­tinc­tion in five sub­jects and grad­u­a­tion with gold medal from Os­ma­nia Univer­sity, she also stud­ied at White Land Col­lege, UK. Lit­tle won­der, she was ar­tic­u­late and pos­sessed a keen sense of hu­mour that re­ally height­ened her per­sona.

She is sur­vived by her bu­reau­crat son Wa­ja­hat Habibul­lah and doc­tor daugh­ter Na­zli Sid­diqui who al­ways re­mained the ap­ples of her eyes.

Not many peo­ple know that she changed the face of her fam­ily’s mango or­chards in Saidan­pur where Mal­i­habadi Dussehri, Langda, Chausa and Safeda va­ri­eties were planted by the Begum her­self in con­so­nance with the rec­om­men­da­tions of agri­cul­ture sci­en­tists. This or­chard is now the site of a ma­jor mango fes­ti­val cel­e­brated an­nu­ally by her fam­ily with sup­port from UP govern­ment.

I al­ways ad­mired the way she con­ducted her­self grace­fully in so­cial ap­pear­ances and en­gage­ments.

Her stylised pehnava, pol­ished nails, well-kept hair and taste­ful jew­ellery would put many a young girl to shame. Her fash­ion quo­tient was high but al­ways un­der­stated. It showed the im­por­tance she at­tached to be­ing well groomed in life.

Begum Habibul­lah’s zest for all the won­drous hues of life in­vari­ably re­minds me the lines from Amir Khus­rau’s fa­mous song ‘Aaj rang hai re maa rang hai ri’. Un­doubt­edly, she has re­mained the most dig­ni­fied and adorable lady of Luc­know all her life. May her no­ble soul rest in peace!

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