Moeen Faruqi

Unlikely Marriage


My mother, Maryam Jaffer, grew up in Puna, in a well-to-do Memon business family. She defied her family traditions and got herself educated. In those days it was unheard of for Memon girls to get an education. She not only finished college but topped her exams. My father was from Lucknow, from an educated family of civil servants and landlords, proud of their nawabi roots and who enjoyed their Urdu poetry.

When my mother topped her exam in Bombay University, her brother published her photo in the newspaper, which was seen by my father Nooruddin Hasan Faruqi, in faraway Lucknow. He wrote her a letter, and so began a correspondence between this /lemon girl and Lucknowi man, comprising hundreds of letters. My mother’s family was adamant she should not marry outside the community, but after much pleading, they agreed. The family travelled to Agra to meet my father where he was a civil servant, and their marriage took place in Delhi 6 April 1947.

After Partition, the newlyweds left for Pakistan in September 1947. They found lodging in various places, but finally settled in Karachi, in a house in Amil Colony, that previously belonged to a Hindu family that migrated to India. My parents were always nostalgic about their hometowns and we children grew up hearing stories of their families and lives in India.