Professionally known as the Queen’s Counsel in London, Marina Wheeler has penned her memories of her father Charles Wheeler was British, her mother Kuldip ‘Dip’ Singh an émigré from Sargodha to New Delhi in her latest book, ‘The Lost Homestead: My Mother, Partition and the Punjab’.
Wheeler, who was formerly married to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been resilient and vocal about her battle with cancer, her mother’s demise and her divorce with the PM.
It is interesting to note that after so many years, Wheeler had to acquire visas to travel to her roots in the subcontinent. According to a report published in the Dawn, her father Charles was the BBC’s correspondent in New Delhi when he met Dip on the rebound after her failed marriage to Daljit Singh (the younger brother of the novelist Khushwant Singh). They married in 1962. From India they moved to Germany, the United States and finally to Garden Cottage in Sussex, where he died and she lived until February 2020, her back turned on India.
On 3 June 1947, as British India descended into chaos, its division into two states was announced. For months the violence and civil unrest escalated. With millions of others, Marina Wheeler's mother Dip Singh and her Sikh family were forced to flee their home in the Punjab, never to return.
Marina Wheeler’s book ‘The Lost Homestead’ touches on global themes that strongly resonate today: political change, religious extremism, migration, minorities, nationhood, identity and belonging. But above all it is about coming to terms with the past, and about the stories we choose to tell about ourselves.
Sharing his thoughts on Wheeler’s book, Shashi Tharoor, author of Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India said, “This book is more than a family memoir - it is an insightful glimpse into the way small worlds are forever changed by the impersonal currents of history.”
Dr Shruti Kapila, Lecturer in Modern History, University of Cambridge called her book, “a wonderful memoir, gripping, elegant, warm and insightful - a triumph.”
Marina Wheeler’s book was released on November 12, 2020 and is available on Amazon.