Speak to us, Ruttie

Real life stories that need telling

Photo by author

In the end we will all become stories.

But some barely known stories need to be told.

The little known, heartbreaking story of the stunningly beautiful Rattanbai Petit (1900–1929), also known as Rattanbai Jinnah, Maryam Jinnah, the Flower of Bombay, or simply, Ruttie. The young, Indian, Bombay born, Parsi wife of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.

Her life was stuff movies are made of. Full of intrigue, affluence, drama, tragedy, but most importantly, beauty. Beauty of a woman, beauty of love, beauty that moved many.

Ruttie was born to affluence, in the anglicized, elite, Petit family in Bombay. Brought up privileged and in abundance that few will know. Met, fell in love while a teenager, and married at 18 years, a charismatic man over twice her age. A man known for his fervent nationalism and political ambition. A man that would one day found a country.

And in marrying him, Ruttie risked everything, rebelled against her own world: parents, religion, community, social norm with no safety net; and as a result, was excommunicated, ostracized, censured and disinherited.

She continued to be the young, pampered, attention seeking, child of lavish taste even as she became Mrs. Jinnah. They soon had a daughter. And even so, their marriage became troubled and ended in separation, which only further isolated her. Separated and isolated, she died alone in a hotel suite at the age of 29, breaking everybody’s heart.

She lived, loved, rebelled and touched heights few reached and her inexorable fall was precipitous.

Ruttie lived her short life on her own terms and her sudden demise left her story painfully incomplete. Her life remains untold, barely whispered, and buried. We need to unearth her, meet her, hear her voice, and get to know her.

What was she like? Was she really just another spoiled rich kid with no depth? Or did she have the potential to influence and energize masses, groups, individuals?

I wish someone could bring her back to life from the forgotten pages. The real her, not the anecdotal, whatever they would have you believe version, but the real, beautiful, rebellious, young woman who can tell her own story, and take us on a journey to show what see saw. Tell us about herself: her dreams and desires, her strengths and weaknesses, what drove her to make the choices she made, the risks she gladly took, her love for life, for horses, her lavish tastes, what mattered to her, who she was and how she influenced the world around her in her brief life.

Through her stories she is kept alive, so she doesn’t vanish into the forgotten sea like a receding wave again.



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S. N. Mulier

S. N. Mulier

Writer, Bodybuilder, Thinker, Scientist