DEVAKI JAIN | 15 MARCH, 2018

RIP Begum Hamida Habibullah, 101: Zest for Life To Be Celebrated

The queen of elite gatherings


A delicate soft spoken very well dressed woman would be one of the dinner guests at my parents home in Bangalore in the 1950’s . My father had returned to Bangalore , after relinquishing his Dewanship of the princely state of Gwalior .He was a key member of the States Negotiating Committee , and having successfully merged the state of Gwalior returned to his native state Mysore state, as it was called in those days .

Enaith and Hamida were part of a fine group of officials and corporate leaders who formed a kind of club of themselves .There was general Srinagesh who set up the Hindustan Aircraft limited as it was called then. Aftab Rai who set up the Hindustan Machine tools factory.My father was Chairman of the company that managed the Kolar Gold fields . This “crowd “ had much to talk about , had a style of drinks and dinner , with some others thrown in.

Hamida was the queen of these gatherings, elegant poised and so friendly. My mother was like her , a beautiful confident hostess, soft voice , warm heart and took to Hamida .

I was in college and we , ie her daughters had to join those evening parties and help serve the guests and look after them . I cannot forget the warmth and easy ways in which Hamida made us the young girls feel easy in that company …so we became friends

Years later, in the 1980 s ,when I moved to Delhi and met Wajahat , I asked after his mother .He said she was in Lucknow – she had just completed her Term in the Rajya Sabha . So on my next visit to Lucknow , I called on her . We were organising the women who worked on chikan embroidery :Literacy house Lucknow was holding the project . The project needed Governance , so I was made Chair. .. But I felt inappropriate and I could not think of a more apt person than Hamida to lead this project and requested Hamida begum to be the chair of SEWA Lucknow as it was then called .

She had access to some of the most original and beautiful chikan kari , and shared it all with the workers and organisers . So we continued to be in touch – but I could not maintain the closeness for long..The project moved ahead , went through several avatars and all of us moved ahead .

But my remembrance of her , was her loveliness and her enormous warmth . She needs to be celebrated .
 

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