She would not allow her children to associate with the neighbors, saying they were royalty and the neighbors were “commoners,” said Sabia Rashid, 56, an ophthalmologist who lived a few doors away. She had even ordered workers to demolish the interior walls of her house so that the children could play cricket inside, Dr. Rashid said.
“She looked like the witch from ‘Hansel and Gretel,’” Dr. Rashid said. “She would not talk to anybody. People were scared of her.”
She lived with two sons and a daughter, who made no claim to royal lineage, Dr. Rashid said. Her daughter, Farhad, who was then known as Marzia, told neighbors they were a Jewish family who had moved to Kashmir from Iran. The youngest, a boy known as Raza, was the friendliest, and a talented cricketer.
Mrs. Butt and the two younger children left Kashmir in the early 1970s. Her departure seemed to coincide with the death of G.M. Sadiq, her patron, in 1971.
“I remember my grandaunt saying once, ‘She left, and she never came back, and they never knew where she was,’” Iftikhar Sadiq said. “Maybe she felt she didn’t have anyone to fall back on.”
Her older son, known as Assad, remained in the government house in Kashmir in near-complete isolation. Years after the rest of the family left, his body was discovered in a state of decomposition.
Dr. Rashid said it was widely believed that, left alone in the abandoned house, he had starved to death.