My grandparents, Rukaya and Sultan Dossal were married in 1949 in the city of Bombay. They had met a few years earlier, when my grandmother compelled my grandfather to buy a theatre ticket she had volunteered to sell, unaware that this expense of Rs. 10 was one he could then ill afford. The story of their early courtship is one of my favourites. Here it is, recorded in her own words in a memoir she wrote for her grandchildren, 60 odd years later:
‘Needless to say that I was quite struck by Sultan and I remember coming home and telling Saleha (sister) that I had met a very handsome man, but most probably he must be married. I was greatly relieved sometime later when I learnt that he wasn’t. I suppose, Sultan must have been duly impressed because he made every attempt to see me. As he told me later he would leave his office at Flora Fountain at a particular time to catch me walking down from Elphinstone College towards Churchgate Station and to me it seemed that it was just a happy chance. We would then have coffee at Coffee House.
I avoided going to pictures with him but one day when we met by chance in a bus and he was getting down at the next stop, I told him I’d like to go to the pictures with him and we decided on meeting at Metro the next day to see “Arsenic and Old Lace”. On coming home I was stunned to be told be told by Baba (father) that we would be going to Kihim the next day… I tried to make all excuses to be left behind but Baba would not hear of it, so it was that I could not keep my appointment with Sultan and there was no way of my letting him know. Naturally, he must have thought the worst of me, and naturally I was miserable on this first trip to Kihim.
Fortunately, my connection with Sultan as also with Kihim did not end there. In fact, it is in Kihim just now that I am writing this….’
At the very end of her story, when asked to note the most exciting part of her life, she wrote ‘the most exciting thing that happened to me was coming across Sultan’.
Do you know how your grandparents met? Comment on this post if you’d like to share…
For a fascinating, innovative effort at preserving family photographs and the histories and memories they hold, check out the very cool Indian Memory Project at wwwindianmemoryproject.wordpress.com