Dina Wadia, the only child of Jinnah and Ruttie, was born in London on the midnight of August 14-15, 1919. Dina was cared for by people hired by the Quaid to look after her after losing her mother to cancer at the age of 9. She spent a year in boarding school and then moved to England with her father and paternal aunt in 1930. After which she was sent to a small private school in Sussex.
Dina in her Early Childhood
“When the family returned to India by steamer, they settled in their mansion house on Mount Pleasant Road in Bombay. A nursery was made in a separate wing and a retinue of servants was employed to look after the child. However, bizarrely, her parents could not agree on a proper name for her. Eventually, at the age of nine, she chose her own [Dina].”
“Dina would have morning tea with her father, sitting at the edge of his bed. Breakfast was at nine o’clock, sharp… On Saturdays and Sundays, they walked on the Heath.”
Dina’s mother passed away at the age of 29. After her mother’s death, she was looked after by her grandmother Dinbai Petit. Jinnah even permitted the child to take her grandmother’s name. She was brought up in a Parsi environment.
Jinnah neglected his daughter as he led the Muslim League.
The Times: Dina Wadia, 8 November 2017
M. Ali Jinnah with his daughter, Dina
She recalled that in the early 1930s Jinnah lived in a large house in Hampstead, London, had an English chauffeur who drove his Bentley and an English staff to serve him. There were two cooks, Indian and Irish, and Jinnah’s favourite food was curry and rice. He enjoyed playing billiards. She remembers her father taking her to the theatre, pantomimes, and circuses.
“Dina was allowed free rein. With little company except her servant and aunt. She spent much of her time shopping with a driver. Her father allowed her to spend as much as she wanted but insisted she must not drive the car – a rule she regularly broke.”
The Times: Dina Wadia, 8 November, 2017
Dina Jinnah with her driver in London.
At the age of 19, Dina decided to marry Neville Wadia, a Parsi converted to Christianity. Jinnah was against the match.
“He was very disapproving, we didn’t speak for a few years.”
Father and daughter had fallen out when Dina announced that she planned to marry Neville Wadia, a Christian who had once been a Parsi. At the time, Jinnah had just become the leader of Muslims of India and was therefore highly conscious of his role. In an angry exchange between father and daughter, Jinnah told her that there were millions of Muslim boys in India, and she could have anyone she chose. She replied that there were millions of Muslim girls, and he could have married one of them, so why did he marry her mother? Inevitably there was a break in relations. Dina married Neville Wadia in 1938, and they had a daughter and son, but the couple separated a few years after partition.
“Jinnah met his daughter and grandchildren several times in Mumbai before 1947. Nussli Wadia, his grandson, still has a cap gifted to him by his grandfather in 1946.”
Hamid Mir, Dina Wadia and her Darling Papa, November 06, 2017
Dina Jinnah married Neville Wadia, at All Saints’ Church, Bombay, in 1938.
The Supportive Daughter
Jinnah succeeded in his fight for a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. He revealed the news of Pakistan to Dina by giving her a call which she reminisces,
“I was in Bombay at my house, and he phoned, and he said, ‘We’ve got it.’
I said, ‘Got what?’ and he said ‘Pakistan.’
I said, ‘Well you’ve worked hard for it.’ And then we had a personal conversation and that was it…I never saw him again because he was in Pakistan.”
Express Tribune: Remembering Dina by Akber Ahmed, 7 November, 2017
In his all-important Presidential Address, Quaid laid the main ideological foundation of Pakistan.
My darling Papa, first of all I must congratulate you — we have got Pakistan….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 their whooping cough, it will take another month yet. I am taking them to Juhu on Thursday for a month or so. Are you coming back here? If so, I hope you will drive out to Juhu and spend the day if you like. Anyway, I have a phone so I will ring you up and drive in to see you if you don’t feel like coming out. Take care of yourself Papa darling.
Lots of love & kisses, Dina.
“Papa darling, 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.”