The topic was Baluchistan,the panel discussion moderated by former high commissioner to Pakistan Mani Shanker Aiyar,and those on stage including Pakistan high commissioner Shahid Malik and former foreign minister Natwar Singh.
Then a member of the audience at the India Islamic Cultural Centre asked the political secretary of the Baluchistan National Party,Mr Kutty,there is a saying that you can keep a Mallu out of Kerala,but you cannot keep Kerala out of a Mallu. Have you retained your ties with Kerala all these years?
The question is, Aiyar corrected,how do you keep a Mallu in Kerala?
Biyyathil Moideen Kutty’s story would suggest that you cannot,though a relative says he does come home every year. Born on July 15,1930,the first of five children in a landowning family in Chilavil-Ponmundom village in Tirur,he left home at age 19,spurred by what he calls a love for geography,fell in love with Lahore and married a Pakistani woman.
He is now in Delhi to release his autobiography,Sixty Years in Self-exile: No Regrets. It is self-explanatory. I went on my own,and I have no regrets, Kutty says in fluent Malayalam of the Malappuram kind.
I didnt go to Pakistan for religious reasons, he said in reply to a question. It was because of my love for geography. I have always wanted to go to Lahore,where the tombs of Jehangir,Noorjehan,Anarkali are… I wanted to go to the Khyber… and I went to all these places later! Well,all countries except America.
He began young in politics. I began with the Kerala Students Front,of the old Communist Party,and then,in 46 or so,joined the MSF [of the Muslim League.
Kuttys father had been a supporter of the Muslim League. I was sent to the Mohammedan College in Madras… I was there only to satisfy my father; I was not comfortable there… I was there for four years… and had to study Science: physics,chemistry and natural science.
In June 1949,after exams,I sent a telegram to my parents that I would return home,but I didnt. I did not even wait to collect my certificates; I left for Bombay.
In August,along with fellow Malayali T K Moideen,he bought a ticket from Bombay Central to Jodhpur and,after a stop in Muhabao,entered Pakistan through Khokhrapur. They reached Karachi on August 14. The proverbial Mallu crossed the road to join the other trade union,and Kutty found many in Karachi.
Another Malayali,K M Kutty,helped him get a job with Larsen & Toubro,but he yearned for the tombs of Anarkali and Noorjehan. After three months in L&T,not waiting for confirmation and an increment that came with it,I collected my salary,bought a rail ticket for Lahore and left,without telling anyone, Kutty writes.
In Lahore,Kutty met A K Pillai,who let him stay along. Kerala still had not gone out of the Malayali: By the way,he was a Hindu,but for me he was a Malayali,not a Hindu or a Muslim, Kutty writes in his autobiography.
Pillai helped him get a job with India Coffee House,as an assistant manager. Paradoxically,B M Kutty the committed socialist spent most of his professional career in the private sector,employed by a variety of national and multinational firms in different capacities, writes Zafar Shaheed,former director of the International Labour Organisation,in a review of the autobiography.
Kutty married Birjis Siddiqui on January 21,1951. I fell in love with Lahore… it was so very beautiful like Kerala with its gardens,and trees… and the people were so nice. I got married there,to a very pretty girl. She died last year… she lived with me for 60 years,and passed away.
The wedding took place in Lahore. There were five Malayalis present.