In 1918, aged just 18, Rattanbai ‘Ruttie’ Petit converted to Islam and married a man 24 years her senior: then-president of the All-India Muslim League and eventual founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The following few years were blissfully happy for the newlyweds, but a rift soon developed as Jinnah’s hectic political life took hold. In 1928, having arrived in Marseilles to receive medical treatment, a gravely ill Ruttie penned the following beautiful farewell letter to her then-estranged husband. Four months later, on her 29th birthday, she lost her battle with cancer.
Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Dr. Ghulam Nabi Kazi.
S. S. Rajputana.
Marseilles 5 Oct 1928.
Darling – thank you for all you have done. If ever in my bearing your over tuned senses found any irritability or unkindness – be assured that in my heart there was place only for a great tenderness and a greater pain – a pain my love without hurt. When one has been as near to the reality of Life – (which after all is Death) as I have been dearest, one only remembers the beautiful and tender moments and all the rest becomes a half veiled mist of unrealities. Try and remember me beloved as the flower you plucked and not the flower you tread upon.
I have suffered much sweetheart because I have loved much. The measure of my agony has been in accord to the measure of my love.
Darling I love you – I love you – and had I loved you just a little less I might have remained with you – only after one has created a very beautiful blossom one does not drag it through the mire. The higher you set your ideal the lower it falls.
I have loved you my darling as it is given to few men to be loved. I only beseech you that our tragedy which commenced with love should also end with it.
– Darling Goodnight and Goodbye
I had written to you at Paris with the intention of posting the letter here – but I felt that I would rather write to you afresh from the fullness of my heart. R.