THE LIVES OF FREDA: THE BLOG
The Kashmir Walla - a lively and conspicuously well-produced magazine which circulates in the Kashmir Valley - has printed an extract from The Lives of Freda. Here's the link: https://thekashmirwalla.com/2020/02/new-kashmir-and-a-revolutionary-document/
Both Freda and her husband were politically influential in Kashmir in the 1940s - and B.P.L. Bedi took the lead in compiling the landmark New Kashmir manifesto and draft constitution. Freda at one time worked underground for Sheikh Abdullah's National Conference in the face of an oppressive crackdown by the maharaja's administration.
After Partition, the Bedis moved to Srinagar and spent five years living there, working with Sheikh Abdullah who had become Jammu & Kashmir's prime minister. Freda and B.P.L.'s last child, Gulhima, was born there.
It's such a pity that the one place this blog will not be seen is in Kashmir, where the internet is still unavailable for almost all residents of the Valley.
What a wonderful, well-attended, lively event the Hyderabad Literary Festival is. I was there to talk, of course, about Freda Bedi - one last hurrah, perhaps, for The Lives of Freda.
As well as a decent audience, the event got good press coverage (though the remarks attributed to my co-panellist Irene Frain in that report were not made by her). And I was thrilled that among those attending were a couple who knew Freda and her family half-a-century and more ago.
Ahmad Rashid Shervani, now 88, was a very good friend of Binder Dewan, an adopted member of the Bedi family. Rashid and Binder were students together at Ahmedabad. He got to know all the Bedis, including Freda's mother-in-law, Bhabooji. Nusrat Shervani also has warm memories of Freda.
They already had a copy of my biography and now they have a second copy, signed by a grateful and respectful author.
This is Bradlaugh Hall in Lahore, once the city's main venue for nationalist rallies. It's where Freda Bedi first spoke at a political rally in (undivided) India.
I visited the hall this week, in part to pay homage to Freda and the nationalist tradition of which she was part. Bradlaugh Hall is an imposing and historic building. It was sad to see it in such a state of dilapidation.
I've blogged about Bradlaugh Hall here:
It's wonderful to see The Lives of Freda on sale in Lahore - even if I had to carry in copies of the book myself. I was there last weekend for ThinkFest which included a launch of the biography in the city which was Freda's home for thirteen years - the place where she was jailed as a nationalist, and where one of her sons, Kabir, was born.
Among those at the launch was Viennese woman who, in a sense, followed in Freda's footsteps. She met her Punjabi husband while a student in the UK and came to live in Lahore in the early 1960s. Also present was a grandson of Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai, a Baluch nationalist leader from NWFP, who features alongside Freda in a historic group photograph taken at the annual gathering of the National Conference in Kashmir in 1945.
I was in conversation with Moneeza Hashmi, who chairs the Lahore Arts Council and is the daughter of the renowned poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz and his British wife, Alys. She was born in the same years as Kabir Bedi - 1946.
So wonderful to be talking about Freda in the city that she adopted as her home - and the city in which she and her husband were happiest.
The Lives of Freda
- a blog about my biography of Freda Bedi