I have crossed over Metropole/Avari tower signal zillion of times but in the rush to reach some place or another; I never noticed the grand house on Fatima Bonus road (the one barricaded by Army) until recently. I was told that it belonged to Mr. Jinnah. I tried looking for its history online as soon as I had the access to a portal. There is not much information on the web apart from sarfarazah’s photstream on flickr. Here is the summary of information from the same article.
- The house was originally known as flagstaff house and was owned by a Parsi before Jinnah purchased it in 1943.
- The building was designed by architect Moses Somake.
- The house was possibly built in 1890.
- Jinnah purchased it in March 1944 and after partition, the bunglow was furnished with Jinnah’s belongings airlifted from Bombay
- Fatima Jinnah lived in the house from 1948 to 1964 after Jinnah’s death.
- The bungalow lay neglected till 1985 when it was restored and declared a museum housing Jinnah’s relics.
I went there on Sunday, hoping that it would be open for public. Surprisingly the building has been spared by elite Generals sitting nearby who could have put it to a good use by settling in and spending days eating samosas, drinking tea, eavesdropping on politicians, planning midday golf sessions, booking tickets for their nonresident Pakistani children and laughing over undisciplined taxpayers.
The steel slat on the gate stated that its open 9:00-1:00 and 2:00-4:00 everyday other than Wednesdays and there was no entry fees. I went in there with the reverence embodied in a pilgrim. A janitor was struggling with a lawn full of weeds. A person appeared from nowhere and showed me the entrance. He was chewing pan and mumbling something. His instructions were self explanatory therefore I did not mind his chewing and mumbling. He opened the door and pointed to my camera. I got the message. No pictures inside! On the right was Mr. Jinnah’s Reading room. On the left was dining room which led to a wooden staircase. On the rooftop Mr. Jinnah and Miss Fatima’s rooms were set as they were in 40’s. In Jinnah’s dressing room racks I saw a pair of his shoes.
I had the sudden urge to touch it as if it was a holy relic.
I rather followed the curator. I was shown the terrace which was facing the front lawn. On my way back I was asked to write my comments in the visitor book. I noticed that only three people had done so over the weekend.
In a city with acute shortage of quality museums, it is astounding that Jinnah’s very own house lays neglected by his very own nation. The place must be sought after by profit sucking corporations and lack of genuine interest from public may well justify its takeover. Our future generations may not have the luxury to spend rare moments in Jinnah’s backyard.
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