NIECE OF JAWAHAR LAL NEHRU AND COUSIN OF INDIRA GANDHI – MRS JANAKI KUMARI ZUTSHKI, LIVED AND DIED IN LAHORE IN 1997.
My uncle used to speak of the Zutshki sisters, and their glamorous stay in Lahore, as well as attachment to artist M.A. Rahman Chughtai. But I had no pictorial image of them. Then I came across a scrap book of an Air Commodore, who used to be a student of Government College, Lahore, and in 2015, I wrote two blogs on them. Obviously, knowledge of past is revealed by chance or through memories of old citizens. I will give a link to the first blog at the end of this blog itself. But here we traverse new material.
Goulding road in Lahore, is a small road, looking like a lane itself. It is probably named after Colonel H.R. Goulding, who wrote a book on Lahore itself. At one end is the religious center of the Bhai faith, of which few hundred Bhais actually live in Lahore even today. Of Iranian origin, they worship their prophet Bahaullah of Persia. People used to visit our museum from Goulding road itself, and some of them, even gave me a booklet of the Bhai faith, as I recall today. The house of ICS officer, Dr Jalil Asghar was in this lane, and he fell in love with Janaki Kumari and she fell in love with him. The other Zutshki sisters left Lahore long ago, and got married in India. However, Janaki Kumari married a Muslim boy and moved to Pakistan in 1952. Some say it was a happy married life based on love, others say there was friction between the two people. Families of both were unhappy with the choices made by their children. But Jalil Asghar left his property in the name of his wife, as they had no children. After the death of Jalil Asghar, the lady was in financial trouble and had to sell her house. But she was allowed to retain two rooms in the house without any charges. Last reports tell us that there were two old ladies in those rooms, Janaki and her trusted maid. It is also reported that the iconic banker Agha Hassan Abidi supported the lady financially. Not much is known, but there are at least two interviews of the lady published in press. One in the 1980s in Urdu newspaper, Pakistan. In the other, she herself recalls:
In an interview a few months before her death, a bed ridden Janaki recalled: “My grandmother and Moti Lal Nehru were siblings. Indira was my cousin. I lost touch with her after my marriage. Her behaviour was different then the rest of the family. She genuinely welcomed me and was extremely happy to see me when I went to attend her son’s wedding.”
The lady was involved in a lot of social work, and her services were recognized by those in power. President Ayub Khan decorated her with an award of Sitara-e- Khidmat. Today leaders do not have even time to listen to the laments of the past, when they cannot handle laments of today.