Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Feroza Seervai: An Obituary


FEROZA SEERVAI, 89, died at Mumbai on Monday, 5th March

With a husband as legendary as H.M. Seervai, one would have expected his wife to have played second fiddle. One meeting with Feroza would have convinced you that this was not at all the case.

By Burgis Desai | Mumbai Samachar

A brilliant student of philosophy from Elphinstone College, Feroza was a lifelong atheist and non-believer. Both Homi and FerozaSeervai were ardent devotees of Truth. Throughout their long lives, even in the most difficult of situations, not only did they never deviate from the Truth but spoke plainly and bluntly, and in the process, often sounded rude to a common man with lesser principles in life. Like the Theosophists, they believed that there was no God higher than Truth, and they always walked the talk, whatever bethe price.

Feroza led a charmed life. An immensely happy childhood, with a mildly aristocratic background (unlike Homi, who rose from great hardship), a brilliant academic career, a marriagemade in heaven and three lovely children, with no major mishap in life. We know of few, who enjoyed such a blessed existence.

Feroza stood up to the giant intellect of her husband. Although she was not a lawyer, she edited her husband’s treatise, Constitutional Law of India, the last word on the Indian Constitution. In this regard, we must narrate an episode which truly brings about Feroza’s strength of character. An Australian professor of comparative constitutional law was to lecture on two consecutive days in Mumbai. Homi was unwell and Feroza attended. At the end of the first day’s lecture, she rose to tell the Professor that he was wrong about certain observations he had made about the Indian Constitution. The Professor was taken aback and stuttered some defence. Feroza went home and narrated the incident to Homi, who promptly told her that the Professor was right and Feroza was wrong. Next day, before the Professor commenced his second lecture, Feroza raised her hand. Fearing another onslaught, the hapless Professor hesitated. Feroza stood up and publicly apologized to the Professor, who had tears of happiness streaming down his face. Such was her courage and daring. Post his death, she edited a collection of material on Seervai, called ‘Evoking Seervai’.

She served countless institutions like the Women Graduates Union with missionary zeal. She co-founded the Bombay International School, as an active parent initiative. Her contribution to education, philosophy and literary societies was immense. In the later years of her life, she wrote poetry and even published a collection.

Post DhunBaria’s crusade about Doongerwadi, a committee was formed, to interact with the BPP. Feroza was an active and regular participant. The Trustees convened an ‘all-party’ meeting. While she was walking up the staircase, a Senior BPP officer (we shall not embarrass him) rather unnecessarily asked : ‘Aren’t you Mr. HomiSeervai’s wife?’. ‘No’, said Feroza, ‘I am his widow’. The officer beat a hasty retreat with a sheepish smile on his face. During the meeting, Feroza locked horns with KhojesteMistree, who mumbled something and finally gave up. Feroza was willing to file a writ against the BMC, BPP and others on this issue,but was convinced to hold on. Naturally, she was cremated.