Copyright@ R.K. Ohri
Please hear me; I am Mariam Zamani @ Jodhaa Bai speaking from my grave in Fatehpur Sikri. I turned in my grave and have woken up in pain on hearing the falsehood being propagated by the Film Director, Gorwarikar, and many dehumanized T.V. anchors. Surprisingly Gowarikar has projected me as a lovelorn consort of Emperor Akbar. But truth is altogether different. Akbar had multiple wives and nearly 5000 beautiful women in his harem, as pointed by that acclaimed historian, Vincent Smith. Please listen to my painful story which I am narrating today after being made to turn in my grave by Gowarikar. If you have a heart, you will be able to hear my heart rending sobs, too.
Born as a Hindu princess, I was proud daughter of the Rajput Raja Bharmal of Aamer and my real name is Heera Kanwar. After I was married off to Akbar by my helpless father as the price paid for saving his kingdom, I was converted to Islam and re-named as Mariam Zamani. And was buried here after death in this every graveyard of Fatehpur Sikri, the capital of King Akbar. My helpless father, my coward father, could not save me from the clutches of that very King Akbar who had a roving eye for beautiful girls, anywhere and everywhere. I too was very beautiful and that is what pushed me, a child bride of 13 years, into his harem as Mariam Zamani! That was how I, a Rajput princess became a helpless pawn in that “political deal” between the powerful and the weak and the oppressor and the oppressed - I mean the Mughal King Akbar and my father Raja Bharmal of the not-so-powerful kingdom of Aamer. The film director and T.V. anchors are liars. They have concealed these true facts.
That is my true story, the story of an unfortunate child bride, a Rajput princess. There was no love between me and Akbar. It was Akbar’s lust and my beautiful body.
Pure and simple sexploitation and nothing more. No one knows why the Film director Gowarikar and anchors of television channels are trying to befool the gullible Indians by
projecting my ‘forced marriage’ with Akbar, sort of a “ransom contract” between the powerful and the weak, as a great love story. How could a king like Akbar love me and me alone, when he had multiple wives and thousands of captive concubines?
Only some dim-wits can call it a love story! Please hear me; I am Gowarikar’s Jodhaa Bai @ Mariam Zamani, sobbing here in the graveyard of Fatehpur Sikri where I was dumped after my death.
I am shocked that the so-called ‘Research Team’ of the clever film Director Gowarikar did not read what Vincent Smith has written about Akbar’s notorious harem overflowing with women and dainty girls. Why did they not read what Akbar’s chief hack, Abul Fazal, has written in AIN-E AKBARI about the condition of Akbar’s infamous harem. How is it that in this Year of the Girl Child no television channel, no film director of India, has the guts to speak about the fate of thousands of helpless women, princesses as well as commoners, trapped in the horrid harems of Akbar and several other Mughal kings? Why this conspiracy of silence? Why do they want to project lecherous kings like Akbar as Great Emperors by weaving yarns about their non-existent love and lustful lives? Perhaps it is the jingle of money which has made them insensitive to the misery of thousands of helpless women trapped in Moghul harems! But why so much love for money? Why should one try to earn money by purveying utter falsehood? I am indeed in great pain on seeing all this. Come, listen to me and hear my wails. I am Gowarikar’s Jodhaa Bai, Bharmal’s daughter Heera Kanwar, buried as Mariam Zamani here in Fatehpur Sikri.
My brave mother protested and cried when I was being sold into slavery of Akbar by my father for protecting his kingship - you might call him a coward which perhaps he was. But he was helpless, too. For days my mother wept and wept and wept. Ultimately she stopped speaking with my father and refused to acknowledge him as her husband. That was indeed my loving mother, my heart-broken Maa.
I am speaking from the graveyard of Fatehpur Sikri. How is it that no film maker, no film director, no TV channel has the courage to depict truth, speak out truth and make movies on the plight of those helpless women, thousands of them, kept as sex slaves in the harem of Akbar and harems of many other Mughal kings, of their Viziers and hangers on ? May I know the reasons for this skullduggery? I know, no film wallah, no T.V. anchor, will reply to my inconvenient questions. Yet, I must speak in great pain today from this wind-blown graveyard of Fatehpur Sikri. Please lend me your ears for a while; please lend me your aching heart for a while. I beseech you. I am Gowarikar’s Jodhaa Bai.
In this forlorn graveyard thousands of helpless women victims of Mughal rulers are buried, mostly Hindus. But there are some Muslim girls, too. All of us have the same story of misery, a lifetime spent in loveless harems of lecherous kings. I am sure the unfortunate Muslim women buried here by my side will also sit up and ask on the Day of Judgment what was their fault for which they thrown into the harem of a debauche king.
I am Jodhaa Bai @ Mariam Zamani speaking from my grave in Fatehpur Sikri. I have turned in my grave because of the pain inflicted on me by a film director who has painted me as a lovelorn queen – something which I never was. Please lend me your ears and listen to my monologue!