By Nyla Ali Khan (auth.)

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Sample text

Given the substantive role that Akbar Jehan played in public events, she cannot slink into the shadows or be memorialized into the realm of abstractions. I do not wish to make a case for her canonization. I employ memory, particularly mine and mother’s, oral testimonies, and I rely on written sources, works authored or coauthored by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, some of which have not seen the light of day in a long time, to add layers of understanding to the tumultuous events that molded the history of Jammu and Kashmir.

The marriage was solemnized by Mirwaiz Ahmadullah Hamadani, eminent religious scholar and strong adherent of the Sheikh. Akbar Jehan’s appearance, as her photographs bear out, was as resplendent as her will was resolute. I remember her fierce though uncritical pride in the political ideology and cultural regeneration that she and her husband had fought a grueling battle for. She skillfully straddled the linguistic paradigms of English, Urdu, Gojri, and Kashmiri and just as dexterously straddled three cultural paradigms, European, Gujjar, and Kashmiri.

Sea and the Indian Ocean and borne the stormy turbulence of an immigrant’s precarious existence to land on the shores of Bombay, now Mumbai, India. The lithe, imaginative, and vivacious young woman who later became his wife, Jessie Maria, made his acquaintance while visiting her brother, George, who was a sea captain in the British Royal Navy. That acquaintance, rather magically, metamorphosed into love, and the wedding was solemnized soon after their first meeting. Their older son, Michael Henry [Harry] Nedou, Akbar Jehan’s father, according to his birth and baptism certificate, was born in Pune, British India, in 1877.

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