Jinnah's Daughter is no more

Dina Wadia, daughter of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and mother of industrialist Nusli Wadia, passed away yesterday in New York. She was 98. She moved to New York several decades ago, and stayed alone in the city with her staff.

Dina was the only child of Jinnah and Rattanbai Petit, and was born on August 15, 1919. Just as her mother, Rattanbai or Ruttie, a Parsi aristocrat, married a person from another faith, Dina, who was raised a Muslim, also wedded textile baron Neville Wadia against her father's wishes.

According to Mokerrom Hossain's From Protest to Freedom: The Birth of Bangladesh, when Jinnah told her that there were millions of Muslim boys in India and she could have anyone she chose, Dina replied: “Father, there were millions of Muslim girls in India. Why did you not marry one of them?“ Dina's parents were immersed in their own concerns, and she was a neglected child, said Sheela Reddy, author of Mr and Mrs Jinnah: The Marriage that Shook India. “That is what I gleaned from the various letters written between Ruttie and Sarojini Naidu's daughters, Padmaja and Leelamani, who were her friends. What was heart-breaking was that she was not named for a few years after she was born, and ultimately took on her grandmother Lady Dina Petit's name.“ Reddy said that Lady Petit was a huge influence on her life, and that Dina only grew close to her mother once Ruttie separated from Jinnah. Like in the case of her mother, Dina's marriage, too, didn't last long, and she separated from Neville Wadia five years after their wedding.

The distance between father and daughter grew after Ruttie's death in 1929, and it came as no surprise that she stayed back in India after Partition. She visited Pakistan twice, once in 1948, for her father's funeral, and the second time, in a much documented visit, in 2004.

According to news reports, after laying a floral wreath at the mausoleum of her father in Karachi, she wrote in the visitors' book: “This has been very sad and wonderful for me. May his dream for Pakistan come true.“ In the early 1990s, Dina staked her claim to Jinnah House, the grand mansion in Malabar Hill where she grew up, and which the government considered to be `evacuee property'.She filed a writ petition in the Bombay HC in 2007. The case is yet to be resolved. Dina last visited India in 2008, and, besides Nusli Wadia, is survived by her daughter Diana, her grandsons Ness and Jeh, Jeh's wife Celina and two great grandchildren, Jah and Ella Wadia.

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