On Thursday, at the age of 98, the daughter of Pakistan’s founding father, Dina Wadia passed away in New York. The demise of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s daughter has struck a chord in the heart’s of Pakistanis everywhere. It reminds us of the wound Pakistan endured at the loss of the Quaid and perhaps the slow and subsequent loss of Quaid’s Pakistan.
DawnNews called the passing of Dina, ‘the end of an era’, whereas Pakistan Today referred to her as a ‘historic figure’. Even though Wadia only visited Pakistan twice, once when her father passed away and once in 2004 for the Pakistan-India match, her close association to Jinnah and the fact that she witnessed much of the historical events that led to the partition and Pakistan’s formation cannot be denied.
Read on to learn some interesting facts about Dina Wadia and her relationship with her father:
Dina Wadia, named after her maternal grandmother, was the only child of Jinnah and his love, Ruttie, known as the flower of Bombay. Wadia was born on the intervening night of 14th and 15th August, 1919. Twenty eight years down the road, the subcontinent would be split and Jinnah’s other offspring, Pakistan would be born.
In 1938, Dina married Neville Wadia, the only son of Sir Ness and Lady Wadia of Bombay. Jinnah did not attend the ceremony. Jinnah’s assistant at that time, Mahommadali Currim Chagla, recorded the following exchange between Jinnah and his daughter in his autobiography ‘Roses in December’:
“Jinnah asked Dina ‘there are millions of Muslim boys in India, is he the only one you were waiting for?’ and Dina replied, ‘there were millions of Muslim girls in India, why did you marry my mother then?’”
On 28 April 1947, when she heard the news that Jinnah had succeeded in his mission she wrote to him, even though she herself never intended to move to the country-
“My darling Papa,
First of all I must congratulate you – we have got Pakistan, that is to say the principal has been accepted. I am so proud and happy for you – how hard you have worked for it.
I do hope you are keeping well –I get lots of news of you from the newspapers. The children are just recovering from whooping cough, it will take another month yet.
Take care of yourself Papa darling. Lots of love and kisses.”
She wrote to him again in June 1947,
At this minute you must be with the Viceroy. I must say that it is wonderful what you have achieved in these last few years and I feel so proud and happy for you. You have been the only man in India of late who has been a realist and an honest and brilliant tactician – this letter is beginning to sound like a fan mail, isn’t it?”
“Take care of yourself. Lots of love and kisses and a big hug.”
During her last years, Jinnah’s daughter desired to live at her father’s mansion in Mumbai but was denied permission as it is claimed to be ‘evacuee property’ by the state. The palatial ‘Jinnah house’, originally known as South Court was designed by the British architect, Claude Batley. The house was built in 1936 after Jinnah returned to Mumbai from England to take charge of the Muslim League. The house was the site for the talks Jinnah held with Mahatama Gandhi in September 1944 and where Jinnah would hold a round of talks with Jawaharlal Nehru exactly a year before India gained independence.
9th September 1948-
The Founder of Pakistan, Jinnah passed away on 9th September 1948. Liaqat Ali Khan invited Dina to Pakistan to attend the funeral. This was to be Dina’s first visit to Pakistan. After the funeral, she returned immediately to Bombay.
During the reign of President Parvez Musharraf, Dina visited Lahore, Pakistan for an India-Pakistan cricket match. She visited Quaid’s tomb and reportedly wrote, “This has been very sad and wonderful for me. May his dream for Pakistan come true.”
Dina Wadia’s funeral will be held in New York on Friday.
Dina might not have found a home in Pakistan but her sibling and its children mourn her loss all the same.
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