Hazrat Mahal- The Begum of Awadh’s Freedom Struggle: Historic Women (Poem)

A woman of pleasure.

My parents sold me to the palace.

The men wore better clothes

But when those came off

They clawed the same.

 

I made sure I caught the king’s eye

Became Wajid’s girlfriend

At last, his wife.

 

Thank God! I had a son

Became queen

Like the fortunes of the mighty shift

So did mine, as Wajid’s’s shifted.

 

The British took our land

I pleaded with Wajid to fight

The limp dick.

 

They sent Wajid away

I wasn’t important enough to flick away.

 

I was thrice as old as my son

But he was triple me in importance

Becoming king

While I looked on.

 

I was king all but in name.

I dreamt of squashing the British

Like men squashed me during sex.

 

Historic womenI sat on an elephant

In the battlefield

All the better to squash them

All the better for my people

To see their queen set an example.

 

They were too many though.

I didn’t understand their guns

Just that they killed better.

 

I ran, to fight another day

Ran backwards

So that I could keep fighting

 

My people came with me

I had 100,000 mouths to feed

But that is a queen’s duty

After all, it was only money.

 

My people paid taxes to me

This was just their return on investment.

Otherwise, what difference would there be

Between me and the enemy?

 

The British wanted to bribe me

Didn’t know no gold to buy

A woman with a heart of gold.

 

My friends buried me with that heart

Far away from my land

Sword in hand.

 

I came across this interesting woman’s life in an Indian  feminist blog. Although I did some research online, not much is known about her. I wanted to imagine what it must have been like for this lone ranger, so I’ve tried to cohere her life in this poem. This was an assignment for the University of Iowa’s Writing from the Margins course. Here’s a poem I wrote on similar lines about Phoolan Devi, the Bandit Queen.

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