under the beautiful dreamy stones made by you for her,
letting the whole world know whom you loved
and whom you did not. I, call me A’azz-un-Nisa Begum,
or Fatehpuri or Qandhari or Kabuli or Sarhindi Begum,
call me by any other name, we are all one and the same
gasping for breath under the weight of Arjemund Bano,
your Mumtaz Mahal, now your only wife to the world
and I, your one-fourth or one-fifth or whatever wife,
but you, my whole and sole. In death, as in life, we
under her shadow, even though
we made Fatehpuri Mosque or Akbarabadi Mosque
leading a life of our own, you, sleeping by her side
stood by her side too. Do I complain? No, I do not.
Do I crave for such mausoleum in my love made by you
over years? Yes, I do. I regret that was not to be, still
I do salute you, for standing by your love through
ragged stones etched in time, honouring not me really
but one of us ultimately. Not just a fellow queen, but a woman,
gaining some place in myths, in history, in time’s mystery.
Very few of your ilk did that, very fewer doing now,
A rare show of public and permanent loyalty
by a man to a woman, by royalty to his subject.
We all merge into her and sleep with you there--
a bit better than all of us merging into you alone
and you sleeping there lonely and hogging all interest as ever
in life and in death.
PUBLISHED IN 'INDIAN LITERATURE' SOME YEARS BACK