Chapter 23 – The Marriage Less Known!
Fatimah let the cool breeze caress her cheeks and play with her strands of hair that were let loose. Clutching her shawl tighter , she let out a sigh , a sad one this time. Either the nights had really become cold or the weather was being harsh on her as her life seemed to be. It had been almost a month since Nasir left and she had enough , he did not come back “If he cannot come here ,let me go to him , if he had lost hope , let me be his only hope.” Fatimah said turning to her mother who sat on the bed of her chamber , while Fatimah was standing near the window. Anuja Bai let out a sigh , it was not that she did not want her dear daughter to be with her love but she was very well ware that the members of the royal family who supported her were dead and the other ones are now far from her , people are not going to accept a former so-called ‘slave’ as their Sultana in Ghazni , Shamshaad Begum too never liked the point , how will her child survive there , amongst such hard opposition ? As a mother , she was not wrong . “Is that you final decision my child? Think again , you can send a letter to him.” She suggested though she did not have much hope for a positive response “We had sent 5 letters and there was no reply , I am sure they actually never reached him. Ma , I know what you fear but even Pitaji and Bhaijaan agreed, please Ma.” she requested , approaching her mother and sitting on her knees in front of her , it always worked . And this time too , it did as a smile spread on Anuja Bai’s face.She was given the permission , she could leave , she was finally going to meet him. Again.
Royal Palace, Ghazni-Pleople cheered for Nasir as he went past the crowd , he did this every month , to stay connected with his people , he was surely the ideal Sultan , beside Razia.As he made his way with a smile , his eyes caught the sight of an extremely adorable girl , who did not look older than 5. He loved children , thus , not even a second thought , he approached her , getting on his knees , to reach her level , he asked her playfully “What is your name little one ?” he asked “Zara.” she replied innocently “Now ,it’s my turn to ask question.” she blurted out , Nasir chuckled at her innocence and nodded positively“Sultan , why do not you too have a Sultana by your side like other Sultans?” she asked him Nasir chuckled lightly at her innocence, picking up the girl in his arms he replied”Of course I have a Sultana too by my side.” Zara looked around ,not finding any such lady, she asked again “But, where is she? I can’t see her.” Nasir smiled at her, taking her tiny hand into his , he placed it on his chest where she could feel his heartbeats ” Here , she is here , she is my heart and she resides in me!” the girl smiled at him , a bit satisfied.
Yes Fatimah , you reside in me , you are the reason of mt existence and will always be , no one can ever take your place in my heart , because my heart and my soul belongs to you!
End of POV
“Shoheb prepare for my departure to Gujrat.” Nasir ordered his cousin brother while entering the practice area , dressed in a muslin casual with his hand on his back and his aura reflecting power and authority “Ji Sultan (Yes Sultan)” Shoheb replied , gave him a salaam and left. It was a pure lie , he was not going anywhere near Gujrat , he was to go to Ajabgarh …to free Fatimah from this suffocating relationship.
Royal Palace , Ajabgarh-
Fatimah hugged Rana Bhanu , Rani Anuja and her brothers with tears repeatedly escaping her eyes , it was bittersweet moment for all of them , for them , Ajabgarh was to loose it’s pride and glory- Rajshree ! She was going back to the place she belonged to. For Fatimah , she was getting away from her family , the family , she neither belonged to biologically , nor legally. “Take care , keep sending letters my child. If any issues , send an urgent letter , without any second thought. Promise me you will do these.” Anuja Bai asked nervously Fatimah could only nod . Pressing her smile and letting out a sad smile , she sat in her palanquin , she was still dressed as Rajshree Bai and she was never ever going to change her title , she was to keep her identity as the princess of Ajabgarh alive forever.
Royal Palace , Ghazni-
The sun had set long ago and darkness in the royal Palace of Ghazni had been driven away by the candles and torches laid all over the palace interiors as well as outside the building , the main city market glittered with lights and decorating and ornamental materials . The market place was a busy one , where people were lost in themselves until a man riding on a horse , dressed as a Rajput came and announced aloud “Get aside , make was for the royal Palanquin from Ajabgarh to pass through the market.” at his words , the place fell silent , the people there made way for the royal palanquin as it passed through the market , nothing of inside could be seen properly but a figure as the white translucent curtains with golden borders hindered everybody’s view.
The guards at the gates of the royal palace observed the palanquin before the man leading the way told them that they were from Ajabgarh at once , the guards gave them a salaam in respect and let them in , as the palace gates opened , Salima and Zaheera , the mother in law of Salima and thus , mother of Shoheb looked towards the main entrance , they were near the place , at the garden inspecting the newly planted trees and saplings “Who could this be at this hour?” Zaheera asked curiously to Salima who shook her head , equally confused . Confused and curious , the two made their way towards the main entrance of the place.Reaching there , they found Shoheb and Shamshaad Begum already there , Shamshaad had come to visit her grandson in Ghazni “Who is it at this hour ?” Shamshaad asked curiously “I have no clue Naanijaan.” Shoheb replied “Let’s see then.” Zaheera said as the palanquin was laid on the ground. There stood the Rajputana guards who anoounced the name of princess Rajshree of Ajabgarh. A strange feeling had settled at the pit of the stomach of Shamshaad , for some unknown reason , she was growing more and more curious with every passing moment , as the curtains were pushed away , revealing Rajshree the princess of Ajabgarh , the most elegant ,and skilled warrior princess of the Rajputana . Shamshaad held herself from gasping at her sight , it was her , the bride she never wanted for her grandson “Fatimah” Shamshaad whispered , audible to everybody present there , Fatimah looked up to meet Shamshaad’s eyes , though none other had seen her before , Shoheb and his mother too had never approved the marriage “Naanijaan!” Fatimah whispered , as she took a step towards Shamshaad , Shoheb came in between “Where do you think you are going?” he asked , his eyes full of disgust , Fatimah could sense it too “To meet Naanijaan.” she asked , a bit hurt as well as confused “You can’t , neither do we , nor does the Sultanate will approve this relation “ Zaheera came forward while she let out those bitter words “But we are already married , it has been five years . I want you all too to accept this relation.” Fatimah said politely Zaheera’s face turned cold and so did Soheb’s “ Guards , lead the guest to the Rang Mahal ! Please do not leave without bidding us a good bye , your most welcome at the Ghazni Palace.” Zaheera said coldly , Fatimah stiffned at this , Rang Mahal is the palace where the courtesans stay , was she being compared to a courtesan , a mistress or a dancer ? Feeling utterly humiliated , she closed her eyes and gulped a lump in her throat as they all turned to leave except Salima , who seemed to be quiet oblivious to the past events , she passed Fatimah an apologetic smile , to which Fatimah smiled back weakly .
Fatimah laid herself comfortably on a couch , her eyes were closed and breathing uneasy “I stings Baisa.” Bela , her personal maid from Ajbgarh said while arranging her cloths , though Fatimah never wanted it Bela insisted to come along and be in her service for lifetime , she was closest to Fatimah. Fatimah slowly opened her eyes those had turned teary already “The guards said that Sultan Nasir had gone to Gujrat for an important meeting.” Bela informed , Fatimah could only sigh , she was feeling extremely humiliated though she had not uttered even a single word.
Precap -Nasir gets to know about Fatimah’s decision and rushes back to Ghazni only to know about the humiliation she had to face.