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.


Famous Indian WomenThirty 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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