Fuzlul Huq was Prime Minister of undivided Bengal from 1937-1943. On 11 May 1942, he led the bridegroom’s procession when my father went to wed my mother. Here is Fuzlul Huq entering the car to do so, with my grandfather Manindranath Roy helping him into the car. My mother’s family were surprised; they were Bengali Brahmins from Jamshedpur and did not quite know what to make of all this. My mother, aged 16 at the time, remembers she was non-plussed to find Fuzlul Huq ‘s bulky frame seated for some reason between her and her new husband in the car on the return journey too!
Fuzlul Huq, having been a young colleague of Surendranath Roy in the Bengal Legislative Council, was a family friend and treated my grandfather, Manindranath Roy, with affection. (Manindranath was a Justice of the Peace, but unlike his father was not political.)
Fuzlul Huq would apparently make requests of my grandmother for delivered meals during political confabulations; my grandfather’s family had been forced to leave Behala as the family home had been requisitioned by the military to be a hospital during the war, and they lived instead in Ballygunge. My father recalls cycling from there with the requested food to the political confabulations in the middle of the wartime blackout (Japanese aeroplanes had apparently reached Calcutta on their bombing missions).
Here too is a note dated 9 August 1945 from Fuzlul Huq to my grandfather thanking him for food and sending his “best blessings” to my grandmother — a Muslim, one of the founders of Pakistan, sends his blessings to an orthodox Hindu Brahmin family and everyone remains completely cheerful and apolitical: such was normal Indian secularism in practice at the time. Partition between India and Pakistan and the ghastliness that accompanied it, and the hatred and bloodshed that has followed, were all quite beyond anyone’s imagination at the time.
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