The Dream Diary of Tipu Sultan: Flash Fiction

Tipu Sultan looked down at his diary. As a ruler, he needed to be strong. His diary was where he permitted himself to be weak. He knew that his munshi, Habibullah, often wondered what the king scribbled in his notebook, taking care that nobody should see it.

The children he took came to him in his dreams. He often woke in a sweat, deafened by the shrieks he heard. 12,000 of them. He still didn’t know why he did it. He could blame his father, but he knew that he could have stood up to him.

His hands shook as he documented the same dream again. He had lost count of the number of diaries he had filled, with the same dream. He didn’t know why he still wrote the same thing, but it helped. Not as much as the first time, but it still comforted him to pour himself out, like others poured themselves out to him.

“I’m tired of fighting,” he wrote. “My father’s dreams weigh heavy on me. Sometimes up, sometimes down- when will it end? Does it matter?” He stared in space. His mouth felt bitter. The image of his two sons, whom he had to surrender as hostages, rose unbidden. The cries of his wife, and his unshed tears, as they were led away, while they looked accusingly at him.

Tipu Sultan Flash FictionHe closed his eyes. Although he had got them back, scars that heal too leave their mark. He fought the British even harder, but the nights were not more peaceful as a result. “Your Majesty!” Habibullah said, rushing in his study without bothering to knock.

“The British are here! You need to leave now by the secret tunnel,” De Moigne, Tipu’s French military advisor, took the king by his arm. “Better to live a say as a tiger than a thousand years as a sheep,” Tipu retorted, shaking him off.

Tipu drew his sword and strode out of his study. Time to slay demons, outer and inner one both.

Note: I want to write a historical fiction novel. I wanted to write one on Tipu Sultan. However, while researching him for this piece I came across an article on his diary. The incongruity of a warrior and a passive act of keeping a diary struck me. This piece was written as part of the University of Iowa’s Writing from the Margins course. Here’s another flash fiction piece I wrote for the same course.

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