Chapter 24 – United At Last !
Royal Palace , Ajabgarh-
Nasir jumped on his horse , as Rani Anuja and Rana Bhanu bid him safe journey , as soon as he got to know about Fatimah’s decision , his happiness had no bounds but he was taken aback when Rani Anuja told him about the letters Fatimah had sent him , in reality , he had no clue about a single letter , he was not a fool , somebody perspicuously did this and he knew it “If I find that anyone of you are involved in this , you all will see my worst side.” he warned the minister beside him , ready to ride on his horse “Sultan , I assure you of my innocence , I indeed had no clue about this .” the poor minister tried to convince Nasir helplessly ,
he indeed was innocent , rather , it was Shoheb who never let even a single letter from Fatimah to reach Nasir. “Calm Down Sultan , you are going to meet her anyways back in Ghazni.” Rana Bhanu tried to calm down his son-in -law , sensing the tension rising , Nasir smiled a bit “Please allow me to leave Ranaji.” Nasir requested “As you wish .” Rana Bhanu nodded and ordered to open the palace gates , as soon as the gates opened , Nasir kicked his horse as it neighed and galloped out of the palace gates followed by his ministers and guards on their respective horses.
Royal Palace , Ghazni-
I was another night , at the Rang Mahal for Fatimah and Bela , the hues on the darkening sky as the sun began to set were breathtaking , the winter had already arrived and after sunset , it would get worse , there were torches that were lit all over the place , the clinks of bangles echoed through the corridors of the palace as the courtesans made their way in and out of the palace “Any news of his arrival?” Fatimah asked while folding her cloths “Not yet Baisa.” Bela replied while lighting the torches, just then they heard the main palace gate being opened , Fatimah ran towards the balcony “Is it him ?” she asked excitedly desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the people entering the place but all she could see were torches , around forty torches entering the palace , the main palace was a good distance away and so was the gates . “I do not think so , Baisa , come have your dinner.” Bela said , being a bit too practical , Fatimah lowered her eyes I defeat , perhaps she was right , she slowly made her way into the room.
Main Palace , Ghazni-
Nasir was welcomed by Shoheb , Zaheera , Salima and Naanijaan as well as some ministers and the general in chief as he rode inside the palace , jumping off his jet black horse , he bid everyone a salaam after he received proper salaams from them . “Taqlia!(Privacy)” he said out aloud and all the ministers turned to leave , after he was sure he was left alone , he put his hands behind his back and stood still , “How many letters were being hidden from me ?” he asked , making Shoheb stiffen , Nasir was a clever man with keen observing skills , he was quick enough to notice the change in body language of Shoheb , he moved towards him and stood half feet away from him “Why?” he asked darkly , in a demanding voice “Because it has come upon the dynasty and the sultanate’s name.
She is a slave Bhaijaan , a slave , may be she is no more one but she was once a slave “ before Shoheb could complete his words , Nasir cut him in between , his voice , a bit higher than usual “And Abbujaan was also a slave ‘slave’ Sultan’ these are nothing but mere tags , that are struck to one once he/she steps into the world.” “We shall not accept her , the sultanate won’t too.” Zaheera came in between the brothers and spoke , facing Nasir “Well then.” Nasir said in a low voice , after a short pause and staring into his aunt’s and brother’s eyes he called the guards , as soon as the guards arrived he ordered therm to call every minister right there. To his surprise , the ministers appeared earlier than expected “ Today , I have called you all to make a very important announcement. To you all and my delight , the Ghazni Sultanate will finally have it’s Sultana , whom , I shall bring before you all tomorrow morning , at the courtroom.” he said in cocky ,yet excited voice , whispers and gasps erupted from all the directions , who could be the woman? Nobody had even the slightest clue “You all may leave now.” with those words , Nasir picked up a torch near him and marched out of the place.
As he made his way through the gardens ,he came across two guards patrolling over the place , as soon as the guards spotted him , they bowed down respectfully offering him a proper salaam , Nasir greeted them back before asking “Yesterday a guest from Ajabgarh had arrived at Ghazni , do you know where she has been sent to stay?” at this question , the guards looked at each other “Sultan Zaheera Begum had ordered us to lead her into the …The Rang Mahal!” “Rang Mahal?” Nasir questioned again , astonished , such an insult , such humiliation to the Sultana , his better half and yet he could not be by her side , she had to face it all , all by herself , his grip around the torch he was holding tightened , without giving even a second glance to the guards, he headed towards the Rang Mahal , almost running in desperation.
Fatimah’s sleep was disturbed due to some unknown reason , waking up , she climbed down her bed as her eyes adjusted to the darkness , well the room was not left in complete darkness , there was a torch lit near the doors , reaching the torch , she silently lit another torch so that there would be enough light in the room , the sudden increase of light and the clinks of Fatimah’s bangles made Bela awake “Baisa , where are you heading at this hour ?” asked a surprised Bela , rubbing her eyes lightly “I do not know Bela , but I have a strong feeling that …he is here , he is near me.” she replied in a daze “But , Baisa …” “Do not worry dear I will be back soon.” Fatimah cut her in between while wrapping a shawl around herself , she picked up a torch and rushed out of the room, as she made her way through the corridors , she was embraced by fierce spine chilling winds , her torch flame flickered and it seemed as if it would blow off at any moment ,but she could care less , the feeling that had erupted in her heart , that was pulling her towards the gates of the Rang Mahal was strong enough to make her run out of the palace , her shawl almost hanging down and , yet , she was conscious enough to clutch it tightly , preventing it from falling down.
Reaching at the main hall , that would lead her out of the palace , she opened the exit doors , the doors creaked open , she noticed that it was a full moon night , thus , the moon light was enough for her , stepping out of the palace , she put the torch in the torch holder that stood still near the doors , her senses were alert enough to sense an outsider’s presence , but she was not sure enough , just then , she saw a masculine figure approaching , her heart thumped against her chest faster than ever and her breathing hitched when she saw the man nearing the torch to his face only to reveal it to be the sultan of Ghazni himself- Naseerudin . , as she took each step towards him , her pace increased with each step and so was with him and as soon as the two were close enough ,
Nasir engulfed Fatimah into a warm , yet bone-crushing hug with one of his hand while his other hand held the torch safely and tightly , in return he received an equally warm and tight hug from Fatimah “Won’t you say anything today?” he asked , not breaking the hug “Do I need to?” she asked , pushing herself more into his arm , Nasir lightly kissed her hair in response Fatimah then slowly opened her closed eyes and as soon as she did , her smile vanished as her eyes caught sight of Shamshaad Begum , a distance away from them , holding a torch , her expressions were unreadable , they were cold and piercing, Fatimah pushed Nasir lightly to free herself from the hug , though Nasir frowned in surprise , he slowly let her go , as both straightened themselves , he frowned when he saw Fatimah looking behind him with guilt in her eyes , following her gaze , he turned around only to find Shamshaad Begum , but he was rigid , he neither took a step back , nor his eyes showed any repentance in fact he was not repenting any of his words or actions , just then Fatimah took advanced towards Shamshaad , though she knew she had done nothing wrong , the cold look made her feel guilty ,
she had taken only a few steps , when she felt a hand gripping her arm tightly , yet gently , restricting her to take another step , she turned around only to find Nasir with a stern expression holding her arm , his eyes never meeting hers and all of a sudden her pulled her towards him with enough force to make her stumble and collide with his chest , he held her tightly , neither did Fatimah try to free herself , instead , she looked up at Nasir only to find him looking at Shamshaad with equally piercing gaze , she looked at Shashaad only to find her eyes struck on Nasir. As the tension seemed to raise , Fatimah felt herself being freed from his grip his hand gripping her wrist , finally he looked at Fatimah “ I will tell the servants to bring your luggage into my chamber tomorrow , for now , you come with me in my chamber , it’s already late. “ with those words , he pulled her along while darting out of the place , not giving even a second glance to his Naanijaan.
Royal Palace , Dilli-
“Here is a message from our spies at Gujarat , we need to go there for a diplomatic talk perhaps , something is definitely wrong , the Afghans are at Gujrat boarders and the Subedaar of Gujrat is still not very much into the matter , he is taking the things too lightly. We need to have a confidential talk.” Yakut said while moving back and forth in Razia’s chamber , while Razia , sat on her bed lost in thought . Though it was late and the night had grown deep , sleep did not get the opportunity to get into the two friends’ eyes “What if this is just for show Yakut ?” she asked all of a sudden startling Yakut “For show?” asked a confused Yakut “The history is the witness , wherever there’s ignorance , there’s either fouls smell of fools or fumes of poison. And we know that Ahmad Khan , the new Subedaar of Gujrat isn’t a fool.” she said with a voice laced with confidence “Right .
So why wait anymore. Shall we not begin preparations for a ‘surprise visit’ to Gujrat ? “ Yakut asked with a sarcastic smirk playing over his handsome face “I guess we should , tell Ranpalji to begin the preparations tomorrow. For now , I guess it is too late.” Razia said turning to him “As you wish.” Yakut responded with a salaam and left the chamber.
Leaning against the bed post , Razia could not think of anything but the meeting at Gujrat , her mind had grown to be sly , shrewd and calculative and that was how a Sultan was supposed to be , cold and calculative towards such matters and she indeed was perfect Sultan , Razia Sultan.