Thursday, October 14, 2010

Durre Shehwar & The Royal Ring

Qamar-ud-din Khan Siddiqi (Asif Jah - I), later known simply as "Nizam-ul-Mulk", was the founder of the Asif Jahi dynasty which ruled the Hyderabad state of India from 1720 to 1948. There is an old myth about Asif Jah that on one of his hunting trips he was offered some kulchas by a holy man and was asked to eat as many as he could. The Nizam could eat seven kulchas and the holy man then predicted that seven generations of his family would rule the state.

By the middle of 18th century the Nizams of Asif Jahi dynasty had quickly surpassed the Mughals ruling a vast dominion in South India. They were among the wealthiest people in the world and history acknowledges the fact that seven Nizams ruled the Hyderabad estate for nearly two centuries.

The Asif Jahi rulers were great patrons of literature, art, architecture, culture, jewelry collection and rich food. The Nizams ruled the state until its integration into the Indian Union in September 1948 after independence from the British.

Nawab Bahadur Usman Ali (Asif Jah VII) was the last Nizam of the princely state of Hyderabad. Though during his days as Nizam he was reputed to be the richest man in the world but he & his wife Dulhan Pasha Begum were worried about their elder son Azzam Jah since they were aware of the family myth of seven generations. Both were wanted to arrange marriage of their son to a princess; but she would have to be a real princess.

They inquired all over the world to find one, but nowhere could they get what they wanted. There were princesses enough, but it was difficult to find out whether they were real ones. There was always something about them that was not as it should be. So they were sad, for they would have liked very much to have a real princess so that the Asif Jahi dynasty will prosper further and stretch to further future generations.

One evening a terrible storm came on; there was thunder and lightning, and the rain poured down in torrents. Indeed it was a fearful night. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the main gate of Chowmahalla Palace - The Royal residence of Nizams, and the darbans went to open it. It was a princess who stood outside, but what a sight the rain and the wind had made her look. She was in a terrible state. The water streamed out of her hair and her clothes; it ran down into the toes of her shoes and out again at the heels. And yet she said that she was a real princess Durre Shehwar, a daughter of his imperial majesty Sultan Efendi of Ottoman Empire.

Well, we'll soon find that out, thought the Pasha Begum standing besides the Nizam, she was listening to the whole conversation. But she said nothing, went into the bed-room, took all the bedding off the bedstead, and laid a royal ring at the bottom; then she took twenty mattresses and laid them on the royal ring. On this the princess had to lie all night. Then she showed the girl to her room.

The rain beat down all night and lightning streaked the sky. In the morning she was asked how she had slept. The girl politely replied: "lt was a lovely soft bed, so soft that I could feel something hard under the mattress so that I am black and blue all over my body. It kept me awake all night!"

Now they knew that she was a real princess because she had felt the ring right through the twenty mattresses. Nobody but a real princess could be as sensitive as that. The Pasha Begum offered her apologies for laying a ring under her bed, before rushing off to her son. With this assessment she had actually selected a real princess Durre Shehwar for her son.

After the wedding, the royal ring was placed inside a gold and crystal box and exhibited in the Chowmahalla Palace Museum, where it may still be seen, if no one has stolen it.

(Adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea)

P.S. PKR 6000/- is the realized price of my 25 years old bed sold today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mount Everest

You know what? I have a modest ambition, if one day I will succeed in climbing on you I will pick a small piece of rock from the top of the world as a memento and wear it in a necklace. I will not sell it; I will not give it to anyone. It is something for me to say 'this is a rock from the summit'. She said candidly to the Mount Everest.

“It’s not an easy job, neither every dream is meant for becoming reality” Mount Everest replied with arrogance of being superior and pompous.

This is what I know, this is what I have to handle, and your freezing attitudes can not ice my temperate ambitions to conquer the highest mountain in the world that attracts well-experienced mountaineers as well as novice climbers like me.

I am enjoying your words and spirits, your ideas of success is so unimaginable, your wishes and prayers are so insignificant and little that I am not sure even if they are audible to the God who shadowed me his mightiness and gigantic presence.

Have you ever heard an Olympic creed? It says that the most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well. So I am just taking my part of struggle.

You see scaling on me is definitely not easy. Mountaineers have to deal with crevasses, avalanches, and strong winds. No wonder, then, that many ambitious mountaineers perish along the way, their accompanying mountaineers have to leave the dead body behind, and this has made me the Mount Everest the highest burial ground in the world.

Very strongly she communicated to the Mighty Mount; the people who live near you are called Sherpa people. Someone told me that the cheerful smiles and legendary strength of the Sherpas have been an integral part of Everest climbing expeditions from the very beginning. The Sherpas follow Buddhism. I have met their Lamas (spiritual monks) in their monasteries. I have asked my success from them. They have arranged placement of my base camp with them. The bright sun above me and the white snow beneath will protect my cause. Lamas will not let me down I am telling you.

My slight wind blow will vanish your base camp. The protecting snow will made you buried in crevasses where bright sun will never rescue from state of unknown forever. Don’t worship me; People will give fatwas for your kufr? And what else people can do beside gossips she replied firmly. I will not move even an inch back, try whatever you can.

She was remained unhindered with the resistance she was facing from Mount Everest but some where deep inside her immaculate intentions started dwindling. She almost begged for not showing such an alien looks to her. She started thinking if climbing is a science or arts?? If it is science am I merely one numeric mountaineer with who intend to achieve material success of climbing highest summit above sea level i.e. 8848 meters. And if it is an art, why no one is appreciating my idea of self actualization? My struggle for triumph on the highest point on the earth’s continental crust.

That day was decisive for her. She started walking across the frozen snow and ice. There were big cracks in the ice that she had to step across. She took a step onto a thin layer of snow and fell into a crevasse. With ropes of hopes she survived but scared. In front of her was the steep ice wall i.e. Lohtse face covered with thick ice and snow which never melts even in the bright sunshine. There was less oxygen in the air so she had to breathe harder. She started feeling sick this time. Strong winds and deep snow was making too dangerous to try the top.

Finally her struggle to climb at the top turned to unfulfilled desire. With heavy heart she turned around from near the top. She decided to left climbing Mount Everest further and moved to climb K-2 the second option.

The days were very dreadful for Mount Everest since her departure to some where else. Mount Everest felt alone and unaccompained. He was angry for what he did to the mountaineers and that novice climber. He showed his anger to the World.

The other day national & international media equally reported the news about lady who climbed on K-2 of the Karakoram range and tremors with epicentre somewhere close to mighty Mount Everest in ranges of Himaliya.

P.S: In University days she used to call him Mount Everest

Note: Based on a news item about 13 year old American boy Jordan Romero who is in bid to climb Mount Everest to be the world's youngest climber of Mount Everest

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dear Departed

In smoky & foggy weather outside I was trying to read Daily Dawn. From economic turmoil to political instability my eyes were rolling from one story to another in anticipation of some good news but every eye ball move was giving me despair and gut of pessimism. The cold was also playing winning shots against my cardigan & lowe (Chaddar) covered body and I was feeling chilly weather with chattering teeth.

Today was the last day of my younger sister at home and she was giving final touches to luggage packing for her way back to far flung corner of the world i.e. California, USA. The carrier in cost cutting drive indicated maximum luggage weight capacity per passenger which was making my sister hysterical to weigh the baggage again & again to keep it in prescribed limits.

My sister’s words interrupted my skimming the newspaper, “Bhai! I want to keep this souvenir with me”. I took the souvenir in my hand which was earlier a zeenat of our drawing room’s wooden rack. The souvenir’s metal was shinning in praise of the daily cleaning of our maid. For the last many years the souvenir had stayed at the central wooden rack of the drawing room among other antique items and show pieces in order to get attention of the visiting guests. I nodded in affirmation with sound “Sure, why not!”

In moments time she came again with a set of books, “Bhai! I am taking these too”, “You can take anyone you like”. The front book lying above had a clear title of ‘Pervaaz’ by Shafique ur Rehman. My sister pointed out our childhood albums, “I am also taking these with me”. This time the verdict was announced before I gave my consent. “Leave them here” I murmured. “O come on Bhai! What will you do of these childhood albums, after all, these are all mine”. “Acha! As you may please”.

Dine out session was memorable, we shared gossips, laughed at cross nouk-jhonk- crackers. At the last moment we exchanged duaiya gestures, prayed for each other. I finally gave my elderly symbolic hand rest on my sister’s head. The car started with little cold coughs and finally started to move. I remained standing outside the house into the street. I was not sure if it was my tear watered eyes or the distance, which dimmed the car back lights enough to be invisible.