Noorjahan- the Mughal Emperor You Never Knew
Dad made sure I knew
Languages, art, lit, song and dance
I chose to leave nothing to chance
Preferring shooting to all those.
I was seventeen when we wed
Sher Afghan Khan
Our daughter Ladli came a decade later.
Politics took you, husband
Led me to my second, Jahangir.
Thirty four then and women today lament
That they are past their prime when they reach my age.
From Mehr-un-Nissa I became Noormahal
Expanding to Noorjahan a year shy of forty.
I remember hunting four tigers
Just regret I wasted two bullets
Taking them all down.
Was Jahangir looking for a mother figure?
A wife is a mother under wraps
I decided matters of state for him
Undercover, with a pat on the back.
A woman’s world is supposed to be her family
I made mine all the world’s
My father and brother were our ministers
I strengthened the web I wove
With Ladli wedding my stepson.
My niece married Shah Jahan
Stretching my seed across Mughal generations.
Jahangir gave me a bad birthday gift
A year before I completed half a century
Captured by Kashmiris.
I too fell, in front of Mahabat Khan
Only to rise, pulling an army out of my sleeve
Escape, with the king.
My own brother jailed me, winning by stealth
What others in the open never could do.
My last two decades were quiet
Finally, a lady of leisure
Architecture gave me pleasure
My monuments are my legacies
They don’t let me down
Unlike miserable men.
Note: I read an article recently about a new book by a historian on this fascinating member of famous Indian women. Looks like women historians will help set the record straight on Noorjahan, rescuing her from our memory of timeless romance. Here’s another in my series on powerful, historic Indian women.
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