Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Sunday, June 16, 2019 05:46:27 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

First Oxford woman who married a 'native' Indian

By
13th-Mar-2019       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Freda Bedi lived an unusual life. Born in a small town in England, she moved to India for love and ended up joining the independence movement. Her biographer, Andrew Whitehead, writes about her remarkable story.
"There are things deeper than labels and colour and prejudice, and love is one of them." These were the words of Freda Bedi, an English woman who overcame prejudice to marry an Indian Sikh and went on to challenge Indian notions about the role of a woman and a wife.
Freda and her boyfriend, Baba Pyare Lal Bedi (his friends called him BPL), met at Oxford where both were students.
This was the early 1930s and romances across the racial divide were rare - almost as rare as a girl from Freda's background securing a spot at a top university. She was born, quite literally, above the shop in the city of Derby in England's East Midlands, where her father ran a jewellery and watch repair business.
Freda could barely remember her father. He enlisted during the First World War and served in the Machine Gun Corps, where casualties were so high it was known as the "suicide club". He died in northern France when his daughter was just seven years old. "This death shadowed my whole childhood," she recalled - it shaped her political loyalties and prompted her lifelong spiritual quest.
Her years at Oxford were "the opening of the gates of the world", as Freda once put it. She was part of "the Depression generation" - those who were students at a time of global crisis, mass unemployment and the rise of fascism. She made firm friends at her college with young women who were rebellious by nature, and went with them to meetings of the Labour Club and the communist October Club.
Driven by curiosity and by sympathy with those struggling against the Empire, she also went along to the weekly meetings of the Oxford Majlis, where radicals among the university's small number of Indian students asserted their country's case for nationhood. BPL Bedi, a handsome and cheerful Punjabi, was a regular there. A friendship developed into intellectual collaboration and, within months, Freda and BPL were a couple.
In the early 1930s, women's colleges at Oxford were obsessed with sex or rather with preventing it. If a male student came to have tea in a female student's room, a chaperone had to be present, the door left wide open and the bed had to be taken into the corridor. Freda's college did its best to derail her relationship - she was disciplined for visiting BPL without a chaperone in what she was convinced was a case of racial discrimination.
But she was fortunate in her student friends. Barbara Castle, who later became a commanding British woman politician of her era, was thrilled when Freda confided that she intended to marry her boyfriend. "Well, thank goodness", Barbara exclaimed. "Now at least you won't become a suburban housewife!" Freda's mother didn't see things that way though. Her family members were sternly disapproving, until BPL made a visit to Derby and managed to charm them.
Freda commented that the engagement caused "a minor sensation" in Oxford. That was an understatement. She believed she was the first Oxford woman undergraduate to marry an Indian fellow student. Some didn't hide their disapproval. The registrar who conducted the marriage ceremony pointedly refused to shake hands with the couple.
From the moment she married, Freda regarded herself as Indian and often wore Indian-style clothes. A year later, husband and wife and their four-month old baby, Ranga, set off by boat from Trieste, Italy, on the two-week journey to the western Indian city of Bombay (now Mumbai). "The nightmare was to get milk for myself to drink because I was feeding the baby", Freda recalled. "And I remember the millions of cockroaches that used to come out at night in the ship's kitchens - I used to go in and attempt to get milk."

(BBC Online)

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Cricket »

More than just a game: India face Pakistan in World Cup battle royale


Virat Kohli will have history on his side when India take on arch-rivals Pakistan in a World Cup blockbuster on Sunday -- a clash that is always more than just a game of cricket.India cut off bilateral cricket ties with its neighbour after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, with authorities ...

Cricket »

Eoin Morgan downplays England's injury concerns


England captain Eoin Morgan said that his team is "not at panic stations", after he and Jason Roy left the field with discomfort during the game against West Indies in Southampton on Friday, 14 June.Both Roy and Morgan had left the field at different points during West Indies' innings and ...

International »

Iran President renews ultimatum over nuclear pact compliance


Reuters, Dushanbe :Iran will continue scaling back compliance with its nuclear deal commitments unless other signatories show "positive signals", the Iranian president told a meeting of Russian, Chinese and other Asian leaders in Tajikistan.Iran stopped complying in May with some commitments in a 2015 nuclear deal that was agreed with ...

Editorial »

Don't let successes go in vain


A total of 298 people were killed and 860 sustained injuries in road accidents across the country during the Eid-ul Fitr vacation. A report of Bangladesh Jatri Kallyan Samiti presented the statistics at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters' Unity on Saturday. It said the accidents took place within 13 ...

Entertainment »

Kareena to reunite with Aamir Khan for the Hindi remake of Forest Grump?


After Karan Johar's period drama, Takht and Homi Adajania's Angrezi Medium, Kareena Kapoor Khan has given her nod to another big project and it's one of the most awaited projects already. Thanks to the incredible popularity and credibility of its leading man, superstar Aamir Khan. Yes, after 3 Idiots (2009) ...

Editorial »

The tax-happy fat budget


THE government in the FY 2019-20 budget announcement set many promises including 8.2 percent GDP growth rate and bring down the inflation at 5.5 percent. In first look, we think the promises are over ambitious. The ever biggest budget of Tk 523,190 crore is a may appear as biggest mockery ...

City »

Bangabandhu Sangskritik Jote formed a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club on Friday greeting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Finance Minister AHM Mostofa Kamal for presenting people-oriented budget.


.

International »

Iran has no intention to make or use nuclear weapons: Khamenei


Reuters, Tokyo :Iran has no intention of making or using nuclear weapons, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying on Thursday by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.Khamenei's comment, a reiteration of Iran's stance, comes at a time of increased US-Iranian tension, a year after Washington abandoned an ...

Entertainment »

Deepika Padukone tops the list of Most Gorgeous Women in the World by a magazine


A Global Icon, Deepika Padukone tops the list of Most Gorgeous Women in the World from Bollywood. Giving a definition to beauty, Observer Dawn wrote: “Beautiful women in the world have created a magic history through their work and other qualities.” They further added, “There is definitely more to beauty ...

Editorial »

ACC miserably failed to meet people's expectation


PRIME MINISTER Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday told Parliament that the public perception about many of the Anti-Corruption Commission employees being involved in corruption was not totally baseless. Responding to a supplementary question from ruling Awami League lawmaker Rafiqul Islam, leader of the House said that all the employees of the ...

Cricket »

Vaughan calls Finch the best captain at CWC19


Aaron Finch's captaincy has earned him the praise of Michael Vaughan, who hailed Finch's tactical nous, following Australia's 41-run victory against Pakistan in Taunton on Wednesday, 12 June.Vaughan hailed Finch's shrewd and brave decision-making, and called him the best captain at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2019 so ...

International »

Abe urges Iran to play 'constructive role' to prevent clash with US


AFP, Tehran :Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Tehran to play a "constructive role" for Middle East peace Wednesday during a rare diplomatic mission to the Islamic republic aimed at defusing US-Iran tensions.Iran has been locked in a bitter standoff with the United States since US President Donald Trump withdrew ...

International »

US-Russia relations are getting ‘worse and worse’: Putin


Reuters, Moscow :President Vladimir Putin said relations between Moscow and Washington were getting worse and worse, noting in an interview published on Thursday that the current U.S. administration had imposed dozens of sanctions on Russia.Putin made his gloomy assessment ahead of a G20 summit in Japan later this month at ...

Entertainment »

Ahona becoming busy with acting


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Few months ago, popular TV actress of present time Ahona Rahman was seriously injured in a road accident. Before Eid after getting well she again became busy with acting. In Eid-ul-Fitr, Ahona acted several dramas and serials were telecasted in different TV channels. Her acting was highly ...

Entertainment »

Ishita getting appreciation for her new song


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :After releasing popular actress and singer Ishita’s new song titled Aamar Obhiman she is getting huge appreciation from the music-lovers for her emotional rendition. Title of the song is Kere nio raat-er joto ghum, Aro nio bishadgrostho bela, Mene nio nio ekla thaka, Durey rekho tomar obohela, ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news