Janjira, India

Atiya Fyzee

Bombay, India


9th May [18]98



First of all I will beg the reader’s pardon, especially dear ma’s (as she prefers Urdu) for writing in English. I tried in Hindustani but the “kulum” proved a complete failure. I just want to give a brief account of our never-to-be forgotten voyage from Murud.

Yesterday at the usual time in the early morn, the steamer that was to convey us was signalled as in view. The previous day the sea was somewhat calmer although the wind continued to blow, while yester morn the sun had risen through a bank of reddened clouds, tinging with its crimson rays the crests of the black waves. The sea kept roaring & ran so high that the speed of our steamer (by the way it was unusually swift thanks to the Captain, a worthy fellow!) was nothing compared to the rolling of the billows, in which our vessel & fast plunging first in one direction & then the other.

At last, the Island of “Khundheri” was reached when the paddle boats were awaiting us. To get into them was another skilful yet terrible task. Well, with equal vivacity we all jumped into the boats. “Courage my men” called out His Highness. The brave “kolis” bent themselves double to their oars & our boats bounded over the growling crest.

The interest taken in this hazardous expedition was universal {we got to know that soon after} all eyes & every look from “Yali” “Dilkusha” & “Cottage” were directed towards our boats. At the moment they remained suspended upon the crest of the foaming waves, while another saw them gliding downwards towards the bottom of a roaring abyss where they seemed utterly lost within it. At the expiration of an hour’s struggling with the waves our barks neared the place where we were to have anchored but to reach the intended spot proved an impossible task for fear of the waves breaking over us: In despair we were obliged to turn back & anchored about a couple of hundred away, till the storm abated a bit. We were watched anxiously by all the occupants of “Yali” “Dilkusha” & “Cottage”. At one moment our slender barks were carried to the Heavens, & the next buried beneath the waves against whose dark background our figures stood forth in relief like despairing apparitions.

I must say that had it not been for the courage of His Highness & Behen Zehra with which they cheered us occasionally, the skill of the “Gundel” {pilot} the strength of the sailors, we might, perhaps have lost heart completely of ever reaching the shore.

About three agonizing hours after when the tide had ebbed we again ventured forth & were received with full honours due to their Highnesses! Nine guns boomed forth & shouts of triumph of joy resounded all over the shore.

Of our enjoyments, the sea bathing etc, I shall speak later on for the present therefore “Adieu” or rather “Au revoir” dear Akhbar, hope to meet—pen!—you shortly again.

I remain fondly yours

Atia H. Fyzee




This extract is an entry for 9 May 1898 from the Yali Akhbar.  Four volumes of these notebooks are kept in the archives of the University of Mumbai.