HIDDEN March 12, 2023
The biography of Princess Abida Sultaan, the heir-apparent to a prominent Indian government who decided to emigrate to Pakistan, records the actions of a woman who rebelled against social media in order to play a public role , before partition in 1947. His book starts from the colonial period, until the end of the British Raj, and the rise of Pakistan.
Written shortly before her death, the biography begins with the daughter’s childhood in Bhopal, where she was raised by her grandmother, the fourth ruler of Bhopal. Her grandmother taught her the values of Islam and the importance of honesty, independence, and superiority over her male friends in the traditions of Bhopal’s Begums. As the heir to the state, Abida worked with her father in managing the region.
It was a difficult decision that Abida made to leave her roots and ancestry and travel to Pakistan with her son Shaharyar Mohammed Khan. After moving to Pakistan, Abida became Ambassador to Brazil and later entered politics by supporting the presidential campaign of Miss Fatima Jinnah. Abida remained committed to the values of democracy and humanity throughout his life and fought against authoritarianism and violations of human rights and democracy.
Reading the records of a Bhopal princess, and that too, one next in line to the throne, hoping to rule the princely kingdom is an enriching experience. The memories are truly a vivid and almost life-like representation of a golden age and a time gone by.
The women’s social fabric of Bhopal
There were 562 princely states in the subcontinent before partition and Bhopal had a rich history of Muslim rulers spanning over two centuries. The four iron ladies known as the Begums of Bhopal ruled the state at a time when women leaders were unheard of.
Bhopal is a peaceful state, where people are open-minded and used to live easily even though electricity, plumbing, refrigeration, railways and roads were available to them in the 1930s. Shikaar outings and tiger hunts make interesting reading as does the visit of the Prince of Wales to Bhopal, apparently to hunt the Bhopal tigers. In a straightforward story, one gets the feeling that there is little to cover, one reads about family conflicts, close marriages and everyday life. Although it was a royal family until the reign of the last female ruler, life remained simple and straightforward. But when Abita’s father came to the throne, things changed from uncertainty and hardship to today’s prosperity.
She was no ordinary princess
Abida Sultaan’s vibrant and happy life in British India makes the book an entertaining read that opens up the vistas of imagination for you. The extraordinary woman, who was expected to rule the state in the 1920s and 1930s, played football, squash, hockey and cricket, shot tigers, went horseback riding, drove a car, learned to fly airplanes and had deep understand the Quran and Hadith, and have a comprehensive education including excellence in state administration. Yes, with his grandmother playing an important role in all of this.
When he got his wings
An excerpt from the book highlights his flying attacks:
“The Bombay Flying Club is now working under a direct management, Mister Dubash, who does not seem to appreciate the female students. I determined to hold myself against this sexist attitude and made his instructions to the book. After a few lessons, I found him very appreciative of my efforts, and he was especially eager to build me up on a rug that I was proud of. He then chose me as one of the few children. school to learn aerobatics and loops and spins in the air. In a short time, I was allowed to fly on my own and a few weeks later, on January 25, 1942, I learned enough to become a one of the first women in India to hold a flying license.I am probably the second Muslim woman to get a flying license – the Turkish girl was the first to achieve it.
The horror inside him
Another explanation indicates that the hunter was so strong that he could shoot a tiger.
“The tiger was out on its evening walk. I stopped the car ― an open air Baby Austin 7 ― and motioned to my chatty girlfriends to be quiet. I slung my double barrel 375 Magnum over my right shoulder while keeping my left hand on the trigger, just in case I missed or injured the tiger that was about to attack and turn Baby Austin into a squashed pumpkin . Taking it carefully, with one hand, I fired. The tiger stood up, rolled over and attacked the car. I quickly put in another shot but this time the tiger was lying down.”
Prince for president
As her father, the ruler of Bhopal, was promoted in the commissions of the country, the daughter got an opportunity to play an important role in the administrative affairs of Bhopal and became the President of the Cabinet of Bhopal and the Chief Secretary.
Since Delhi was the winter capital of British India, and Shimla was the summer capital, the government officials and their families would spend six months in both places. They will escape to the mountains in the summer when it is winter in Delhi to celebrate the winter at home for them.
It’s a life-changing decision
The story clearly describes how Abida’s life changed after the split. His decision to come to Pakistan and his experiences after partition are described without words. Unfortunately, when one nation after another was forced to enter India, Bhopal was not spared and on partition, the decision is only once in a lifetime or more. once in a century – to travel to Pakistan or live in Bhopal faced him. .
A quote from the book highlights this important decision.
“Now, I asked myself, what should I do in response to the almost certain decline of monarchies after Independence? Would my father meekly sign the independence won by Dost Muhammad Khan by the sword? Will we be in the world of democracy after 1947, satyagraha and non-violence, go down bravely but fight foolishly for our inheritance? Can I, the incorrigible rebel, look like a normal citizen under foreign rule in Bhopal after 250 years of my family’s rule? Isn’t it better for me and especially for my son, to find a new life in Pakistan without the stigma of belonging to a minority group? At thirty-five, I was strong, competent, experienced and full of enthusiasm. My son was given an education that would allow him to hold his own in any field. Why then, I asked myself, to make a new life in Pakistan – the Promised Land for Muslims of the subcontinent?”
The intermediate journey
Abida’s fascinating journey from Europe to Pakistan by road makes for an entertaining read. His early life after parting with his social circle in Karachi is mentioned. Especially interesting is the part about Viqar-un-Nisa Noon also known as Vicky Noon. The important things are how the state machines started working – the postal service, Pakistan International Airlines started, the railways, banks, newspapers and how the telephone, water and electricity worked in the new country. He highlights important events such as the visit of the Queen of England to Pakistan in the 1960s, his time at the UN and later, his appointment as ambassador to Brazil.
Arrogant and dangerous attitude
Describing her son’s life, Abida described Shaharyar Mohammad Khan’s career, from his start in the Foreign Service to his later appointment as Jordanian ambassador. His son’s academic and personal progress seems to be a source of satisfaction for him and has been the proof of his decision to migrate to Pakistan, leaving behind the riches and palaces of Bhopal in the background.
The news of the state visit to Turkey and the UK is very interesting. In this regard, the story of the reception of Sarkar Amman in Britain and the way she was welcomed, the only female ruler who wore a ‘burqa’ on British soil and the way to make himself in these visits very funny.
Despite the political and social challenges she faced in her life in Pakistan, the princess met some famous people, the prime minister, and the government and military leaders of that time.
From the education of her child to the purchase of land and the arrangement of a place, the princess independently led her life in a new land, from scratch, and with a male assistant. It is a testament to his strong will and independent nature.
Amazingly, this memoir covers the span of time from when he was just thirteen to eighty-nine, with all events and dates are recorded accurately. Traveling through World War I and II, he talked about how Bhopal was affected by the war, the partition of the subcontinent and pre/post 1947 events, especially in relation to in his family as well as events such as the 1965 and 1971 wars, which. happened after the creation of Pakistan.
One might think that some personal encounters may not be discussed or discussed in detail, but they are hinted at in his frankness and honesty as he tells bitter truths with sweet memories, or about a relative, friend, someone. common to or pertaining to a country.
The book is highly recommended to anyone who wants a detailed look at the life of a princess from the beginning of the century until its end. Although his story paints a picture of a strong and aggressive character, he describes himself as a “rebel”. His relationships with partners in his life and the way he handled challenges and made difficult decisions are fascinating as well as inspiring. Depicting golden times and difficult times, the memoir is interesting, informative, surprising and educational, and will save many lazy afternoons of reading.
Ambreen Khalid is a marketing professional, with a passion for books. He blogs Alabi Newssojournintime.wordpress.com. All information and facts are the responsibility of the author.
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