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Hey guys... Az here... Aanchal_C was kind enough to let me borrow her account to post... So I'm back with Chapter 2!!Thank you so much Aanchal!!
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Balaji, Zee and Ekta Ma'am. I'm merely borrowing them to play for awhile. I do not make any money from this. I do not mean to disrespect any religion or group nor do I wish to disgrace any real historical figure through my story, I'm merely using the characters of the show to tell my story. Hope you like it...
Tu Jahan Mein Wahan
It had been 10 days of hell for Jalal. First the loss of his precious child, then to be told that Ruqaiyya's miscarriage had been a conspiracy, and as if that wasn't enough, that his other Begum Jodha had been responsible. There was only so much a man could take. If the murder of his child had devastated him, Jodha's betrayal had shattered him beyond repair.
'Remembering her betrayal is easy, I do it everyday, because there's an ache within my heart that never goes away..'
He had wondered for a fleeting moment why he had felt this way. When it didn't feel like his whole body was on fire from the rage he was feeling, his deep-seeded heart wondered why did it skip a beat as if it were pierced everytime it remembered Jodha's betrayal? If it were anyone else, this matter would have long been over, but now, for Jalal, despite the fact that he felt that he had caught the culprit, peace still seemed to evade him. He felt like a living corpse, his grief rendering him in such a state that he didn't even know whether he was alive or dead, whether he was going through the motions of his daily routines as the shehensha out of instinct or whether he had been lifted into another fleeting, dream-like existence where he was beyond the reach of anyone he held dear. He sometimes felt like a piece of meat over a spit fire, burning and engulfed in flames of white hot anger, like his very blood was ablaze, carrying this poison to every part of his body, yet he never could explain to anyone what pain he was experiencing. He envied the women in the harem, they could cry, scream, vent and release their grief... But him... He had no right to cry, no support through which he could draw strength.
'Jalal aap shehensha hain. Aur shehensha ko rone ka haq nahin hain' His Badi Ammi had told him. She had meant it to quieten him in his moment of grief, but a reminder of the fact that he had no right grieve only served to leaden his heart even more.
He dreamt that he stood at the edge of a great abyss, with no one to pull him back, at one point the dream was so real as he drifted between consciousness and unconsciousness, neither fully awake or deeply asleep, and he found himself at the edge of his balcony. He wondered how easy it would be to tip over the edge and end it all, but as the scion of the Mughal Dynasty he knew that he didn't even have the fortune of being the owner of his own life. His life was not his to live and take as he wished. His life belonged to his subjects, and if he were to take it, it would be the end of his kingdom.
He wept silently at night, for his unborn child, for his unexplainable emotional distress but mostly, for the complete and utter loneliness that he felt in his chest, the very emptiness where his heart should be. It was an emptiness he had hoped his child could fill, a light in the darkness of his existence that not even his mother, his Badi Ammi nor even Ruqaiyya could fill. Now he had nothing, and he would make sure that those who he held responsible would pay the ultimate price, starting with Jodha Begum.
It was the ironic dilemma of one of the most powerful yet one of the most helpless men in the world. It has been said that 'No one can destroy iron more than its own rust can... Likewise, no one can destroy a person more than his own mind can... 'By the tenth day, he was no closer to solving his internal conflict nor was he any closer to finding any other clue that could prove Jodha and her family innocent.
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A small voice buried deep beneath his pain, the voice of the enthusiastic yet impulsive man that had snuck off to Amer to see the beautiful princess had told him that he was being rash, that Jodha could yet be innocent. It felt as if this voice was echoing from a distant place in his subconscious, shrieking to be heard. This voice said that he had seen for himself that Jodha was a woman of honour. She may have defied him at every turn but she would never hurt anyone in this manner. She had many opportunities to fulfil her thirst for his blood. She could have used the Shahi Farmaan to ask for his head, she could have killed him when she had disarmed him after their sword-fight, but then her words came back to him...
'Kissi nihatthi ko marna, veer tha nahin hain. Kissise marne se, koi shaktishali nahin bante...'
If Jodha had thought it beneath her to kill an unarmed man, how could she cold-bloodedly, and deceitfully kill an innocent child? Especially one who had not yet seen the light of day?! She had even saved Abdul when he was captured at Amer, saying that it was an insult to the honour of the Rajputs to kill a handicapped. Think Jalal! The voice urged him, begged him. A lump formed in his throat, the ache in his chest became too much to bear. He shut his ears trying to suppress the echo like a madman. He screamed yet he knew no-one could hear him, no-one would understand.
And if this voice had caused him anguish, it was nothing compared to the other voices he could hear, the voices of his past. The voices that ensured that he knew from a very tender age that he should never believe in human kindness, that mercy was a weakness. He had to learn as a child that having emotions was as good as stabbing yourself to death. Khan Baba's voice seemed to sing in his blood...
'Ek Sipaahi ke seene mein dil nahin hota, tum shehensha ho, tumhaare seene mein dil nahin hona chaiye. Jhazbaat ka matlab kamzhori hain...'
He had long since forgone in believing in the kindness of people. His own father had not cared enough to return for him, his own mother had abandoned him. He would never even know the taste of her milk, the comfort of her arms nor the sweetness of her voice as she lulled him to sleep. If it weren't for Khan Baba and Badi Ammi, he would have died, and not by the hands of his enemies, but because of his own family. His uncles, especially Kamran would have severed his head from his seven- year- old body if it weren't for his aunt. The age when most children play and live freely, he had spent his childhood in exile, in hiding. Instead of toys he was handed a sword. The age when most children would get an education he was readying for battle. He was at the age when children would marry off their dolls when his father had treated him like a live doll and married him off to Ruqaiyya, his cousin. It was an alliance to strengthen the bond between his father Humayun and his brother, Ruqaiyya's father Hindal.
If his own family could do this to him, Jodha was still from the enemy clan. Beneath her beautiful face was the cunning of a killer. Beneath her voluptuous body was the strength and power of a trained warrior. He closed his eyes and an image of Jodha at the Amer prison pointing Suryabhan's sword at his neck flashed before his eyes. A lone tear glistened on his handsome face. The man he had considered his father had been killed in a conspiracy hatched by none other than the woman he called Badi Ammi. If they were capable of this, then it was nothing for Jodha to carry out a miscarriage.
At least his family's intentions to kill him had been known to him from childhood. He had been trained to protect himself. But Jodha did not attack his body, where he could have at least tried to defend himself. She, being the'behtareen sipaahi' had found her enemy's ultimate weakness and had struck him where it hurt the most.. his sincere and desperate desire for a child. Not an heir to the empire, mind you, a child. Someone to call him'Abbajaan', an innocent who would finally rid him of his eternal loneliness, whose tiny hands could wipe away the moistness from his eyes and the sins of his tortured life, whose pitter patter of little feet would be the sweetest music to his ears, a child who could finally teach him what no adult in his entire life ever could... To love.
She must die...Slowly...Horribly... Painfully...The father inside him yearned for justice, and ultimately, it was this voice that he decided to heed. It were the same words he announced in the Diwan-E-Khaas as his final verdict. The Diwan-E-Khaas erupted upon those words. The ministers mumbled their shock and disapproval. Ruqaiyya and Maham Anga sighed collectively in relief while his Ammi shouted 'Nahin!' in disapproval. Salima cried. The only ones who remained absolutely silent were the Ameris. Jodha and her brothers along with Maan Singh did not even flinch.
Rajputs are not afraid of death they thought. If they had to die, they would do so with dignity. Jodha looked up from behind her veil at the man who was supposed to be her husband, the guardian of her honour. 'I order them to be burned alive... individually!! As each one burns the others must watch! Only then will they understand the suffering that they have inflicted upon me! Starting with... Jodha Begum...' His Ammi was distraught an angry. An audible gasp echoed through the Diwan-E-Khaas. It would be the first time in the history of the Mughal Sultanate that a Begum would be executed. The fear, the pity and the tension was palpable in the air.
Jodha twitched involuntarily. Shehensha could have hurt her in however many ways he wished. Woh Uff thak nahin kehte. She pitied the loss of his child. After all, she had been one of the happiest when she had heard about Ruqaiyya's pregnancy. Finally she thought, after all that waiting, yearning and praying Shehensha and Ruqaiyya Begum will have their long-awaited child. She had heard how Jalal had given justice to that little Hindu boy and his family. She had seen and heard from Salima Begum how much Shehensha loved and cared for Rahim. A small bud of respect had begum to bloom in her heart for the young emperor. But his words at the Diwan-E-Khaas today had caused that little bud to shrivel up and die. He hadn't even given her and her family a chance to explain. Being the 'behtareen sipaahi' that he was, he had finally found her ultimate weakness, her family's honour. She had been raised with the values instilled into her by her family. Protecting hers and her family's dignity was her life. If the Jallad had just insulted her and decided to harm her alone, she could have borne it. She was a woman after all, she had been raised with such dignity and inner strength. But he had hit her where she could not possibly defend herself... her immeasurable love for her family... Her honour. He'll always be a butchershe thought bitterly.
So this is how it ends Jodha thought. 'If this is to be our end, then I will have us make such an end, so as to be worthy of remembrance Shehensha!' She challenged him. She saluted him, mockingly, with as much derision as she could manage. But before she could storm off, she glimpsed into his eyes. Those young eyes spoke volumes of what her husband was feeling yet said nothing at all. She knew then that if she were to be executed, that look in her eyes would be the last thing that would flash through her mind. But what were those haunted eyes trying to say? Were they looking for justice? For forgiveness? For absolution? She would have the rest of the night in her seclusion to ponder over it... But even she could not stop the lone tear that trickled down her lashes as she turned and walked out of the Diwan-E-Khaas with the harem guards, holding her head up high.
If two people are meant for each other, it doesn't mean that they have to be together right now... but they will eventually...
How was it? Should I continue?
Precap: Ruqaiyya's POV
Chapter 1 Disclaimer applies
Ruqaiyya could see the calm before the storm, the chill wind echoing a warning of a battle that was about to rage, the carnage that was to follow. It had all in the eye lock between Jodha and Jalal. It was then, that Ruqaiyya felt true fear, 'She could do it!' She thought, 'She will be the one to take Jalal away from me!' They each stood tall, proud. No-one ever had the courage to stand up to Jalal before, not like this. She was different; 'juda' and Ruqaiyya knew how much Jalal coveted things that were different.
Before Jodha could storm off Ruqaiyya glimpsed into her husband's eyes. There was once a stage where she could face her back to him, yet he would always leave his other begums and come straight to her, yet today, she had looked to him, yearned for him, beckoned him with her gaze yet his body did not even twitch in her direction. He only had eyes for her. What spell did she have him under? That even when she was the object of his wrath he still burned in her obsession.
The only time she had ever felt such helplessness radiate from him was when he suffered nightmares in his youth. She comforted him with words of support yet even she could not find the right balm to his wounds. It had been rightly said ' From every wound there is a scar, and every scar tells a story'. Back then, she may have not yet had the maturity to help him, but she had always hoped that her love for him would pull him through. But then his heart got lost somewhere, and in her bid to keep his favour she had never disagreed with him, never told her husband 'No! You do have a heart and as your wife it is my duty to help you find it' She had left him to his misconceptions. She had thought that they had their whole lives to spend together, to grow together.
She yearned for a love that he never believed in. They pleasured each other physically but she wondered whether he could feel the void in their relationship the way she did. A void that she had wanted filled by their child. If she had given Jalal a child, he would be hers forever. She very proudly declared to Hoshiyar and the other begums that ruling the Harem and becoming Mariam-Uz-Zamani was her goal in life. But the truth is, her relationship with Jalal felt hollow. He was all she wanted, not his title, not his crown, not his Sultanate. She wanted him, loved him, and needed him.
The other Begums envied her because she had his attention, but even they knew that she did not have his love. That is why they spoke of 'ser pe sava ser'... Could that be Jodha? 'No!' Ruqaiyya thought. 'Jalal is mine, only mine! He belongs to me! I rule his body, his mind and soon, I will rule his heart as well, I shall be the one to possess his soul for an eternity! '
'I have loved him my whole life' Ruqaiyya wept, 'and no two-bit Hindu hostage princess is going to take him from me, even if it means taking back what belongs to me, by hook or by crook.' She broke into a fit of spasms and her body shook as her eyes welled up, her breathing became harsh and laboured. She realised then that the void in their relationship could not be filled by a child, but by love, Jalal's love and if anyone dared to take Jalal away from her, she would ensure they would pay hell's ransom in this life before sending them to a horrific and destructive death.
Chapter 1 Disclaimer applies
Nazre teri chahe jise deewana bana de... Patthar pe bhi girjaaye toh paimana banade'-
It was a restless night for Jodha. It would be for anyone who had just been sentenced to death, and a horrible one at that, but it wasn't her impending doom that was keeping Jodha awake... It were his eyes.. Those deep, haunted, lost eyes. Jodha knew the minute she saw his eyes that she'd remember them forever and she was not wrong.
Jodha's soul: Us din jab meine tumhaari aakhen dekhi, tab mujhe samaj mein agaya tha ke tumhaare andhar sirf aur sirf dard tha. Ek ajeeb sa khalipan tha. Pata nahin tha, ki un aakhon ki yaad hamari dil par kaisi chaap chordegi shehensha.
Jalal's soul: Haan Jodha, us raat neend bhi mujhe nahin aaraha tha. Shayad yeh toh kismat hi tha, jo mujhe tumhaare dil ki raah dikha raha tha.
Jodha did not see a Jallad in that second, all she had seen, was a father in pain. But what was more disturbing was that those eyes did not only reflect the loss of his child, something told Jodha that the hurt ran far deeper than even she could see... She could see a child in them, tortured, alone, stripped of his innocence way to early in life... But how is that possible? But would she ever have the time to get to the bottom of this? Did she want to? What if she did not like what she found eventually? What if she did? She had painted a picture of her life in Agra the minute she had found out her alliance had been fixed with Jalal. It was her ghrina, her hatred that allowed her to survive in his harem, her anger that helped her build that wall around herself that protected her from his unwarranted advances... Or had it? It was his choice not to use force on her when he very well could have. In his state of heavy intoxication he could have had his way with her and no-one could have said a thing... But he didn't. Then she decided to banish these thoughts from her mind.. She flipped over on her bed forcefully... 'Why should I care?! 'She thought angrily... 'Woh toh paagal hai!!'
In his bedroom, Jalal was shaking, not from anger, not from nerves, but a strange combination of the two. How does she do that?! He seethed. He was the Shehensha-E- Hindustan for god's sake!! He sat on the throne, and after all that internal warring with himself.. He had finally found a way to pull himself together to announce his final verdict yet instead of looking scared, remorseful or even angry... She had the nerve to look him in the eye, challenge him and even walk out of the Diwan-E-Khaas as if she had just received an award!! But before she turned, something changed in her expression, she softened, it was only for a millisecond, no-one else could have noticed it, or did they? But it was that one millisecond that unraveled his perfect yet fragile facade. She looked into his eyes, and he broke.. He was furious for being weak. One look from that witch and he felt so vulnerable!! Did she know magic? Had she put a spell on him? He was beginning to believe so. He had frozen in place at that point, if he weren't sitting on his throne, his legs would have probably given away. Her gaze pierced through his armour and straight through to his heart... Wait a second... His heart?!? Paagal hogaya hai kya Jalal? Tumhaare seene mein dil nahin hai!! Yeh ladki tumko paagal banake hi choregi!! He fumed. She had the ability to look up at him with such pure contempt, that even though she was the convict and he was sitting on the throne he still felt like an insect under her gaze, trapped helplessly in her beauty and her trecherous web of deceit and lies . Her pride could not be crushed!
Then that little voice was back, the mischevious Jalal who jolted everytime he came into contact with Jodha. Woh toh bahut achchi hain na? Oh shut up!! The Shehensha in him thundered. Don't ever make the mistake of making that witch your weakness! She'll destroy you and you know it. His head began to throb again.
I won't spare her this time.. She has to know the effect she has on me.. I'll prove to her before her death that I'm not weak.. That I can more cruel then she could ever imagine! The Shehensha inside him smiled evilly. Now my fiery Rajput princess, you are done for. The voice of poor innocent Jalal was silenced once again, he practically shrieked in protest, he cried ' Don't do this please! Don't hurt her! Why are you in denial that when you hurt her the only person who feels more pain is you?!'
But it was no use, Jalal was desperate to win, to uphold the teachings of his Khan Baba. 'But Khan Baba himself admitted to having a heart!' His inner voice tried one last time. 'He said so himself that if you don't have a heart, then his heart said that you'd be the greatest emperor in the history of the land! His heart loved Salima Begum, and Rahim as well! What if his teachings were wrong Jalal?' ''You are so desperate to keep people at a distance because you're afraid they'll betray you! That is why you're upset with Jodha! You were starting to admire her, to trust her, then this happened! What if you stopped listening to what Khan Baba put in your head for once and start listening to your heart? It beats to keep you alive it has to exist! Khan Baba was not wrong Jalal, he taught to separate your emotions from your consciousness to keep you objective and strong in battle, but he was your father Jalal... He would never want you to feel loneliness like this! 'No!' Jalal decided with finality.' I am not weak, and it's time Jodha knew it too...'
But his last thought before he drifted off into a fitful sleep after drinking much more than he should have was...But what if I was wrong?
Jalal! Jalal!!!' Something was wrong... Something was very very wrong... Just that afternoon the jashn had been on full swing.. Jalal and Ruqaiyya had been so happy, talking, laughing and planning... In nine months their child would be in her lap.. Jalal would be able to give their child rides on his back the way he did for Rahim.
It had been the happiest moment of her life when Khwaja Shera had uttered those magical words... 'Mubarak Ho Malika-E-Khaas.. Aap Maa Banne Wale Hain' 'You are pregnant'... 'Subhanallah!' She had exclaimed with joy... 'Now no-one can stop me from becoming Marium-Uz-Zamani!' This is what she had exclaimed proudly to Hoshiyar.. But in her heart she thought 'Now I will be able to give my love the most wonderful gift of his life... My Jalal... And his child, the symbol of our love will soon be in my lap... His ansh now in my womb... And then... Jalal will never leave me, he'll finally know where he belongs... In my arms... He will belong to me and me alone and I'll finally win his love... Everything I've ever dreamed of.' Her eyes welled up, and she prepared herself and read her salaah (namaaz) in gratitude to the Al-Mighty. 'Shukr Ya Allah... Aap ne humari kwahish puri kardhi... Ab Aapse yehi darkwahst hai, ki Aap hamari bachchi aur hamari Shauhar ki Hifazat kare...'
'Mubarak Ho Begum Sahiba!' Hoshiyar said ecstatically 'Ab aap ko Marium-Uz-Zamani ka auodha aur jagah aapse koi nahin cheen saktha..'
'Ab aap Shehensha ko mujhse koi nahin cheen saktha' Ruqaiyya thought instead. Ammijaan had told Jalal 'Jab thak mohabbat nahin karoge walid nahin ban paaoge tum.. Theen hone se pehle do logo ko ek hona partha hain..' Jalal had been worried that he would never have children because he had thought that he wasn't capable of love... But she had done it! She would prove to him now that by becoming the mother of his child that he has loved her and only her... That was how this became possible, and she would finally have her beloved Shehensha.. Forever...
Now, after the Jashn she had been feeling uneasy... By the evening... Her pain had been unbearable. She placed her hand near her womb and felt something wet, sticky... When she saw her hand after... It had been her worst nightmare... Blood... Her blood... Her womb had failed her!! Jalal! She screamed.. She was terrified.. Jalal had come in to help her, she had never seen him so startled, so rattled, so unsure.. 'Kya hua Ruqaiyya?!' He asked, concern written all over his face. 'Bohot dard ho raha hain' She cried. The pain was becoming too much to bear and by the time Khwaja Shera and Maham Anga could be summoned, she was delirious. 'Jalal... Jalal...' She panted.. His name was the only sound coming from her lips... He was all she could comprehend... All she could understand... Could he not see it? Could he not understand how much she loved him? 'Don't leave me!' She had wailed, as Khwaja Shera and Maham Anga tore her away from him. She held on though, she held him in her vice-like grip... He was her lifeline... But she was too weak. She had eventually let go and had been laid down on the bed.
'Ruqaiyya!' Jalal had never known fear like the one that had gripped him at that point.He had told Ruqaiyya that when it came to his child, he did have a heart ...and now he believed it. It felt as if his heart was beating so frantically to breakthrough his ribcage which suddenly felt like it was made from fire. He held her, he could see her pain and he saw the blood. He understood that his beloved wife and child were in danger, yet he could do nothing to help them... To protect them. After Khwaja Shera and Maham Anga had gotten Ruqaiyya off him, Maham Anga led him outside. He had felt completely numb. His legs had felt like stone, 'Ya Allah may no-one ever suffer such helplessness' He cried, 'Not even my worst enemy'...
Ruqaiyya had drifted in and out of consciousness in those few minutes. But no matter how much pain she had suffered... No pain in her womb compared to the stab of pain that hit her in her chest when Khwaja Shera had told her that she had miscarried...
'No!' She screamed, Say it isn't so!' She wailed, 'Please give me my child, I need my baby! What will I do? What will Shehensha do?!' She had been inconsolable in those few minutes... 'Does this mean that Jalal and I aren't meant to have a child? Does that mean that he doesn't love me the way I love him? No!! Jalal loves me, he always has... From the time we were children, when he used to yank at my pigtails and I would tug at his hair, from the time I used to climb on his chest after he had made me chase him around the palace, from the time he started calling me Ghatti... He's loved me.. And he will be mine!!'
'Maham Anga' Ruqaiyya asked numbly, I wish that you be the one to break the news to Shehensha' As much as Ruqaiyya hated her and the hold she had over Jalal, She knew that at this point... Maham Anga would be the only one who would be able to console him, to comfort him when she couldn't. She could not bear to break the news to him herself. He would be shattered, and she could not bear to see him so broken...
That had been the real reason she had left the day he had broken down upon hearing about Bairam Khan's death. She didn't care that Maham Anga had accused her of not caring about her husband. She had not left because the Harem was more important than her Shehensha, she had left because her heart had ached for him. She couldn't control her emotions at that point and she had not wanted him to see her feelings for him. She had left to hide her concern and her love for him behind the petty politics of the Harem. But it was Maham Anga's predictions pricked her... 'His heart could not be taking shape!! She had thought, not without me... His heart cannot fall for another... Not while I'm here.. I will never let that happen!'
She watched regretfully as Maham Anga stepped out to give her love the most shattering news of his life...
Just as Ruqaiyya had found a way to compose herself with those thoughts, Khwaja Shera dropped another bomb on her, 'Maaf kijiye Begum Sahiba.. Your womb has been badly damaged ... You will never be able to conceive.'
'Khwaja Shera!' Ruqaiyya cried desperately. At this point, after this news, she was not above begging. She was willing to beg Khwaja Shera, for her child, for her husband. 'You are well-versed in black magic and in the dark arts aren't you?! You were the one who had helped me carry out all the miscarriages in the harem! You know Khwaja Shera how much I love him, you are the only one who knows the extent I will go to possess him for myself!! I beg of you!! Use your magic! Bring my baby back using the Dark Arts and I'll give you anything you want please! All the gold and money you could ever want! You have taught me everything I know about the dark arts... help me!!'She cried like a madwoman... 'H... He... He'll go to someone else if I cannot give him a child!! She cried hysterically... 'He's mine and I will do anything to have him!'
'Maaf kijiye Begum Sahiba!' Khwaja Shera replied with pity in her eyes, 'I am loyal to you and will use my black magic and teach it to you to use in whatever way possible for your benefit as long as you have the means to pay me, I can help you secure your position as Malika-E-Khaas but I cannot give you the title of Marium-Uz-Zamani, I can help you to bewitch the Shehensha so that he favours you but I cannot get him to love you and likewise, I can help you carry out the miscarriages in the Harem but I cannot give you your dead child back as it was too early in your pregnancy and the child had not yet been fully formed... I am powerful Begum Sahiba... But even I have my limitations' Khwaja Shera said.
Ruqaiyya wiped away her tears of dread. Her grief turned into determination as she cooked up a plan in her head. 'So...' She thought, remembering the swordfight between Jalal and his new wh**e Jodha... The way he looked at her with such unbridled passion... 'Jodha is becoming your new obsession my beloved Shehensha? I'll see to it that she dies... And that too... By your hand!'
'Khwaja Shera!' Ruqaiyya ordered, 'I want you to tell the Shehensha that my miscarriage had not been natural... That I had been poisoned with the Dathura extract. I want you to frame Jodha Begum. Tell him that the extract was mixed in the Saffron that had come from Amer. Say that it had been mixed in the milk that Jodha Begum herself had fed me by hand. And remember... This matter should stay between us... Mein tumhe mu mange keemat dungi' 'Jee Begum Sahiba... Aapki hukum sar aakhon par' Khwaja Shera smiled deviously.
Meanwhile, outside, Maham Anga had been breaking the news to a shattered Jalal... 'Why does God always do this?' He cried like a lost child, First he shows us a glimpse of joy only to take it away! If I ever meet him I'll ask him why did he do this to Ruqaiyya and I?' Forget me, but why Ruqaiyya? She had prayed so much for a child she doesn't deserve this!!
'Jalal sambhalo apne aap ko' Maham Anga cried. Just then Khwaja Shera came out and explained to Jalal and Maham Anga about the 'induced miscarriage' and the Dathura extract that 'came from Amer'... Jalal was livid... But Maham Anga was afraid. A conspiracy had borne fruit in front of her eyes! A conspiracy that had been hatched in the Harem and she hadn't even an inkling! Who is this?! She thought fearfully. Is she a threat to me? She was able to hatch a conspiracy under my nose? Who is she? Could it be Jodha Begum? Because that is definitely who Khwaja Shera was implying as being responsible even though she had not stated it outright. I must find out who this is... Hopefully it is Jodha Begum and hopefully, Jalal will kill her before she becomes a threat to me... Maham Anga thought
Chapter 1 Disclaimer Applies
Yeh mehz khel nahin... Inka muqaddar hai... Ek pal buri nazar ka saaya.. Doosre hi pal ek aajeb manzar hai... Kaunsa khel khelnewaala hai muqaddar in do pyaar karnewalo ke saath?' - Qubool Hai trailer
'Yeh kya hai Khwaja Shera?' Ruqaiyya asked. It was the last night before Jodha and her brothers were to be executed, but Ruqaiyya had still not been satisfied. She knew Jalal better than anyone. She also knew that there was a fine line between love and hate and she wanted to ensure that their hate could never sprout any other feelings. It was for this reason that she had come to Khwaja Shera. 'I hate her!' Ruqaiyya had yelled at Khwaja Shera. 'I just wish that Shehensha would torture her! I want him to prove to me that he feels nothing for her! I must be his sole master and no-one else!'
'Calm down Begum Sahiba' Khwaja Shera had said. 'Here take this.' She held out a potion bottle to Ruqaiyya. 'Isko kisi bhi sharaab mein milake, Shehensha ko pila de na.' Khwaja Shera had a glint in her eyes. 'Woh toh mein karlungi...' Ruqaiyya replied curiously... 'Lekin isse hoga kya?' ' Isse peene ke baad, aadmi jaanwar banjatha hain... Haiwaan.' Khwaja Shera could hide her glee no longer. 'Shehensha would shed all of his inhibitions, and he will torture Jodha Begum so terribly, that she will spend the last moments of her life giving thanks to her gods that she is about to die!' Khwaja Shera giggled now..And upon hearing this plan, Ruqaiyya could control her laughter no longer either. 'Wah! Brilliant Khwaja Shera! Now that Jodha will regret ever setting eyes upon MY husband!' 'Ensure that Shehensha drinks this with his wine Begum Sahiba, and incite him against Jodha... The show that will follow, Jodha's pain will be worth the watch!' Said Khwaja Shera...Ruqaiyya dropped a handful of coins into Khwaja Shera's waiting hands, took the potion and took off to Jalal's chambers.
'Shehensha ka ek baar bulandh ho' Ruqaiyya greeted. Jalal turned to her. His head was still pounding after his last internal struggle, but after settling on torturing Jodha, the voices in his head seemed to quieten. The pain and turmoil however, had seemed to have moved to his chest, where his heart was. Not where your heart is!! The Shehensha in him reminded him. You don't have a heart!
'Kya baat hai Ruqaiyya? You sound pleased.' He asked her fondly. 'I wish to speak with you alone Shehensha' Ruqaiyya replied, mischief evident in her voice. Hearing her so thrilled, Jalal became curious, he could use some cheering up tonight. Jodha's sentence was to be carried out tomorrow, she was to be burnt alive in front of her brothers, and they were to follow soon after. 'Takhliya' he said to his guards. Finally, Ruqaiyya thought.. I have you all to myself my love...
'Jodha is going to die tomorrow' Ruqaiyya replied with glee. 'Why shouldn't I be happy?' 'Please Ruqaiyya' Jalal held his hand out, he sounded worn, tired. 'I do not wish to speak of her; just the thought of her gets my head spinning.' 'I thought it would' Ruqaiyya replied, 'Therefore I brought you this, it's the finest wine imported especially for you from the richest harvest of the kingdom. I personally selected and checked it myself.' 'Thank you Ruqaiyya, but I have neither a craving nor an inclination for wine tonight' Jalal replied 'Try some please Shehensha? It may help soothe your inner turmoil' 'How did you know about my troubles Ruqaiyya?' Jalal asked innocently, there was no doubt that he trusted her beyond words. 'Come on Jalal' Ruqaiyya quipped, she reverted to using his first name because they were alone, she called him by his title 'Shehensha' only in front of others. Calling him by his first name in private was an honour bestowed on very few people, namely his Ammi, Maham Anga and her. She felt honoured to be the person he considered himself closest to, and I intend to keep it that way... She thought.
'Just one drink' She coaxed him... Her words a sweet poison to his ears. She had mixed the potion into the wine before she had come to him, and she was eager to see the potion's effect on him as she poisoned his mind against Jodha. As usual, he couldn't say no to her. Uska mann rakhne ke liye, he took the goblet she offered him, and took a tentative sip. He closed his eyes and moaned, relishing the bouqet and taste... 'It is a fine wine' he praised. His moans caused Ruqaiyya's loins to stir... Maybe... She thought, she could take advantage of him after she incapacitated him, to spend this night in his arms... No! Her rational side interrupted... You will have your time with him... He will belong only to you... But for now, wind him up and set him on Jodha... Ensure that she dies hating him... You saw their eyelock... Even though she hates him, she's starting to suspect that he has humanity buried deep inside... You need to ensure that she loses that last shred of respect she has for him... Then he'll be yours, only yours... To do with as you wish...
Junoon mujhpe chhaaya tere ishq ka junoon
'There's such a difference between you and Jodha Begum' Jalal muttered, interrupting her inner musings. 'She gives me nothing but grief and a troubled mind, and you... Tum hamesha humein kashmakash se bacha leti hon... you always find a way to soothe my troubles...'
Seeing her opening, Ruqaiyya began... 'I don't understand until now why you married her' she started, and she saw his expression change. He downed the contents of the goblet in one gulp. Ruqaiyya smirked, she realised that she had hit the right nerve. She used her words and took another stab at his chest, 'She is arrogant and disrespectful, and she taunts you continuously'. His frown deepened, he poured himself another drink and downed the contents again in one gulp. She saw his features tightened as the alcohol burned his throat... He looks like a tortured weeping angel... She mused to herself. She decided to twist the knife further into his chest...'She hates you, she doesn't care for you, or your position, or your crown...' That did it; he flung the goblet across the room in frustration and grabbed the entire bottle... He drank fast... Too fast... The alcohol was going straight to his head and it showed... He hadn't even emptied the contents of the bottle yet but he had began to sway precariously as he drank.
Once he put the bottle down Ruqaiyya could clearly see that it wasn't only the alcohol affecting him but the potion as well. She had seen him drunk before, his eyes would normally glaze over but tonight, the potion had stripped him of all signs of humanity. His eyes were wild with rage and frustration. She smirked as he said exactly what she wanted to hear... 'Jodha Begum ko humaare saamne pesh kiya jaye... Bring Jodha to me...' He slurred. 'Jo hukum Shehensha' Ruqaiyya smiled, and before she left, she took his handsome face into her hands and kissed him seductively, she couldn't resist at that point... He was her drug... After she gently broke the kiss, she turned and walked out of chambers to call Jodha... This is going to be fun... She thought.
Ruqaiyya hummed to herself as she went to the chambers where Jodha was being kept under house arrest. 'I am here under the Shehensha's orders' she told the guards proudly and haughtily, 'takhliya'. The guards bowed and left Jodha and her alone.
To say that she was surprised to see Ruqaiyya was an understatement. Jodha had been spending her sleepless night trying to at least put a few pieces together of the puzzle that was her husband Jalaluddeen Muhammad. 'Shehensha wishes to speak with you' Ruqaiyya told her. This annoyed Jodha, she understood that Ruqaiyya was Jalal's favourite consort, but that didn't give her the right to order Jodha around like a daasi. After all, if Ruqaiyya could not respect Jodha as a Begum of the Shehensha-E-Hindustan then she could at least respect her as the royal princess of Amer.
'I do not wish to see him' Jodha spoke defiantly... This only made Ruqaiyya smile... How could I miss such a golden opportunity?She thought... If I could incite Jalal against her there is no reason why I can't incite Jodha against him as well! The more they hate each other the better for me. 'You'd better mind your tongue Jodha Begum... Shehensha is not in the best of moods... And his temperament is feared by all' Ruqaiyya said. 'A person who rules using fear is no emperor' Jodha fumed... 'I neither care for his temper nor his mood' She is irritable... Ruqaiyya had to hold herself back from clapping with glee as Jodha stormed off to meet a very angry and intoxicated emperor.
'Aap ne hume yaad kiya Shehensha?' Jodha asked as she entered his chamber... Having dismissed the guards when Ruqaiyya was there, they were completely alone... Or so they thought.
They had no idea that Ruqaiyya was watching secretly. Normally, she would never be as brave and intrusive as to spy on the Shehensha when he was with his other wives; she never cared to do so because she knew his interest in them was fleeting and temporary. But something about Jodha made her blood boil, so she had decided to spy on them to see her plan go through successfully.
'Come in Jodha Begum' Jalal said mockingly. He swayed slightly... Jodha flinched when she heard him slur his words... He's drunk... She thought... Just perfect... As if he could sink any lower in her eyes.
In dhadkano se aati hai ab to yeh sada
Teri hi khwaahish ab to hai tera hi nasha
'Jee Shehensha?' she asked. 'She quickly pulled her dupatta over her face... Her false modesty only served to annoy him even more...How do you do it?' He asked, 'Despite being the convict you actually had the nerve to walk out during the proceedings at the Diwan-E-Khaas when I announced your sentence' He was wasting no time in provoking her, but she refused to take the bait... He was even more drunk then when he broke her bangles, the night after their nikaah... And she was in no position to anger him... 'I had no reason left to be there' She retorted, but try as she might she could not keep the sarcasm dripping from her voice. He stiffened. Oh no... She thought... She had done it... He grabbed her without warning and yanked her dupatta violently away from her face. He held her roughly by the back of her neck... 'How can someone so beautiful be so treacherous?' He smiled manically... 'I try so hard to stay away from you but you haunt my thoughts day and...night' he smiled lustfully at the last word. Tere khayalon se jude mere raat din. Jeena mera hai bin tere ab na mumkin.It was the word 'night' that sparked the first embers of true fear in Jodha... 'Y...you promised Shehensha' she stammered... 'You wouldn't touch me...'
He laughed drunkenly at that... 'You will burn tomorrow Jodha Begum!' He shouted, 'it would be such a waste to let such beauty be razed to ash... Especially when it has served no-one... But tonight, it will serve me... And I will ravish you before I destroy you tomorrow... Only after I exercise my rights as your husband tonight and call you mine will I be able to let you burn in peace tomorrow.'
'No!' Jodha screamed and pushed him off. She thought at that point that she could take advantage of his dulled senses and escape, but for some reason, the alcohol seemed to fuel not only his rage but his strength as well... Ruqaiyya smirked from her hiding place behind the pillar... And so it begins... She thought.
'Shehensha leave me alone!' Jodha yelled, but Jalal continued to manhandle her. He broke her bangles and had ripped her haar off her neck. If she was afraid up to that point, she was absolutely petrified when he tore her blouse away... She began to cry, to beg but Jalal was lost to the liquor and the lust... He was deaf to her pleas and cries. Jodha tried to grab whatever material from her outfit so that she could to cover herself... To keep herself modest, but Jalal was unstoppable.
He threw her on his bed and climbed on top of her... It was at that point that she remembered what he had told her the last time he was drunk... 'Shayad tum yeh baat nahin janthi, ki nashe mein insaan sach boltha hain...' Now she understood... That intoxication brings a man's true nature to the surface... Now she knew, the man she called her husband was not merely a butcher... He was a monster... A beast... An animal.
Jodha cried helplessly as Jalal overpowered her on his bed, then the first tears slid from her eyes... She didn't know at that point, that it was those very tears that broke through Ruqaiyya's spell... What are you doing?? Mischievous Jalal's voice penetrated the fog in Jalal's mind. How could you hurt a defenceless woman? That too Jodha of all people? She's innocent I tell you!! Jalal paused, he looked into Jodha's eyes and the minute he did so... He felt a stab of pain in his chest... It pierced through the haze of his mind that he... The Shehensha-E-Hindustan, who had women falling at his feet, was about to do the most despicable thing a man could do to a woman. Was he really going to take an unwilling woman by force? Did I hesitate because it was wrong? He wondered, or because it was Jodha?
'What are you?' He asked her... His words as incoherent and unclear as his thoughts... Jodha sensed all of a sudden through all her panic, that even though he still held her captive beneath his body... He had stopped his assault. 'Jab bhi tum mere samne aathi ho, pata nahin mujhe kya ho jaata hai. Mujhe aap ke seva kuch nahin dekh saktha.I can't think or see beyond you. Yet you've given me the greatest pain by taking away my child. Despite all this I still can't hurt you... It hurts me inside... Why?' His voice broke slightly then...He sounded so lost at that point, so sincere.
Kyon tere ishq mein dil kahin na lage
Tanha yeh dil jale ek pal na dhale
Aye meri tamanna bin tere kahin na
Aaye mujhe sukoon
Jodha's Soul: If only I had understood what you were trying to say at that point Shehensha, I should have trusted what I saw in your eyes... I didn't realise then, that the greater the love the greater the obstacles one had to face. You had fallen from grace in my eyes then Shehensha, but that would only give birth to a stronger love and admiration when you finally succeeded in winning me over... I would give myself to you, completely and willingly.
Jalal's Soul: Haan Jodha, jab bhi mein us din ko yaad kartha hoon, paanch sau saal ke baad bhi (even after 500 years) mere aakhen sharm se chukjaate hain... Maine tumhe bohot dard diya tha na?
Jodha's Soul: Haan Shehensha, but you don't need to feel guilty any longer... Us raat humari mohabbat ki agnipariksha thi... Aap apne hosh mein nahin the, lekin phir bhi, aap ne hume jaane diya... Pyaar karna aasan hain, par usse nibhana, bohot mushkil. Pyaar ke is imtehan se guzarne ke baad hi humaare shaadi shuda zindagi ke rang mein asli nikhaar aaya. Dard ki gehraayon see uthar ne ki baat hi hum dono pyaar ki shikr ko chu saki... Uss shikr ko, jahan hum dono humaare pyaar ki amrit ko paya hamesha ke liye.
The minute Jodha saw her opening she pushed with all her might and flung Jalal off her... He passed out then. She looked at her wounds and her torn outfit and realised that she could not leave his chambers in such a state... She called on all her Rajput strength and settled herself in the furthest corner from his sleeping form on the bed and cried her eyes out rocking her traumatised body back and forth... How I hate you! ... She thought... Her fear had even caused her to ignore the part of her that sympathised with him, the part of her that still said that there was more to her troubled husband that met the eye.
Ruqaiyya was angry beyond belief when she saw Jalal stop his assault... What's wrong with him? Why hadn't the potion worked? Could he be in lo... No! It's not possible! But it's irrelevant... Jodha hates him and that's enough... Moreover, she will burn tomorrow... Then Jalal will be mine forever.
She hadn't realised that she had fallen asleep... When she woke up... Jalal had disappeared. 'Begum Sahiba' her harem eunuch guards came to her... They had brought with them one of her outfits from her harem chambers. Get dressed. The pyre was being prepared from last night... It's time for your execution...
Jalal was in the Diwan-E-Khaas alone pacing... He kept thinking of last night... The execution will be starting soon... His thoughts could go no further because just then, Abdul limped into the Diwan-E-Khaas as fast as he could possibly go with his crutches... 'Shehensha! You have to stop the execution! Jodha Begum is innocent!'
N.B. All Quotes in bold are lyrics from the song Junoon' from the movie Rocky the Rebel' ... I feel it is perfect to depict Ruqaiyya's obsession with Jalal and Jalal's obsession with Jodha!
This long post is to tide you guys over until the weekend... Sorry but I'm writing a test this week so I can't write until Saturday... I know many of you will be upset with this chapter but please trust me... It's like Jodha's soul said above... The greater the obstacle, the greater the love that follows.'
Please read and comment!!
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