‘Mr and Mrs Jinnah’ brings back Jinnah as a person: Sheela Reddy - Hindustan Times
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‘Mr and Mrs Jinnah’ brings back Jinnah as a person: Sheela Reddy

Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | ByArshdeep Arshi, Chandigarh
Nov 25, 2017 08:57 PM IST

Reddy also talked about how Jinnah’s life was not documented by anyone on the basis of those letters that are available to everyone.

Writer of the book ‘Mr and Mrs Jinnah: The Marriage that Shook India’, Sheela Reddy, said she had come across several biographies on Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who was a lawyer, politician and the founder of Pakistan, and all biographies were different from each other. According to the author, though Jinnah have been written about extensively, but the Qaid-e-Azam’s personal life remained largely under wraps.

Sheela Reddy, who works as a book editor at Outlook, speaking at the Chandigarh Literati International Litfest 2017 on Saturday.(Sanjeev Sharma/HT)
Sheela Reddy, who works as a book editor at Outlook, speaking at the Chandigarh Literati International Litfest 2017 on Saturday.(Sanjeev Sharma/HT)

Reddy, who works as a book editor at Outlook, was here at Chandigarh Literati International Litfest 2017 at Lake Club, Chandigarh, on Saturday.

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"We have known Jinnah when it comes to geography and the history of the subcontinent. However, we don't know who he actually was as a person. I wanted to find it out, " said Reddy answering a question on why she wrote on Jinnah.

The work draws from several letters written by Ruttie Petit, Jinnah's wife, that Reddy discovered during her research in New Delhi, Islamabad and Karachi.

In a conversation with HT Correspondent, Reddy discussed her experience of writing about Jinnah and how she got hold of the letters of Ruttie and her close friends who told the story of Jinnah how he was as a husband which otherwise was unknown.

She says , "Jinnah eluded his biographer. He was one of those men in the history who were most successful in hiding their personal life behind their political persona. I thought that it had been 70 years since Partition and we should at least examine his life."

She added, "Jinnah is generally reduced to a cardboard cutout picture. He is solely thought to be responsible for Partition. However, it matters what the circumstances were during that time."

Answering a question on how she found the material for her book, Reddy says, "I started looking for books on Ruttie. I was surprised that there was no or a little mention of her in all of the books. Then I found the letters in The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, which bring out the possibilities to understand Jinnah as a person."

She also talked about how Jinnah’s life was not documented by anyone on the basis of those letters that are available to everyone.

Reddy also visited Pakistan in hopes of getting some exclusive material on Jinnah and met biographers and historians. However, he had lived most of his life in Bombay and spent only two years in Pakistan.

She said how she was helped by her friends in Pakistan to get hold of the required material in Islamabad which helped her a lot.

PERSONAL BOOKS IN KARACHI

The author said that she was thrilled on finding personal books of Jinnah and Ruttie that were kept under lock and key in the basement of the library in Karachi

"I was fortunate enough to get the permission to see the books which to my surprise were heavily annotated by Ruttie and some by Jinnah too. The markings and the notes tell a lot about what went in their life," recalled Reddy.

"He was after all a human who was shattered after his marriage broke down and it had an impact on his politics too," she added.

'Mr and Mrs Jinnah: The Marriage that Shook India' was published this year in Urdu too by OUP, Karachi.

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