This is based on a fable I heard while visiting the fort. It’s completely untrue according to history, but it made such a beautiful story, I couldn’t resist writing on it.
Ayesha pulled the blanket closer to combat the chill. She breathed in the cold air and looked around. The world looked so different from up here. She turned to her right and saw Raj coming towards her with freshly roasted peanuts and the famous chilli chutney. She loved the spicy salt and green chili concoction. She reached into her bag and procured a flask and two paper cups and poured out some coffee.
This was her first time in the city. It had taken her a lot of cajoling to convince her parents to let her out alone.After all, it just wasn’t the done thing for a girl like her, to be out in the world without her entourage. For all these years, Raj had told her about this fort. Its beauty belied by the harsh terrain. They had come here to watch the sunset and it had truly been beautiful. From her vantage point, it seemed like the sun had slowly dipped out of the sky and into one of the numerous houses lined below. Like some abstract painting with hidden innuendoes, the sky seemed like a tapestry of art with clues to the mystery of life. She felt infinitesimal and yet, very powerful.
“It’s a beautiful place. If I had it my way, I’d never leave.”
“You haven’t yet seen the complete beauty of the fort Ayesha. Let’s stay here a little while longer and I’ll show you what I am talking about.”
Quietly and peacefully, they sipped their coffee and ate their peanuts. Sometime later, Raj handed her a small scrap of paper. Intrigued, she opened it to find a design of a beautiful necklace. She knew his penchant for riddles and surprises and hence, had become quite accustomed to such deeds but the import or rather the significance of the necklace was lost on her.
“Its very nice, but it looks too heavy for anyone to wear. Are you planning to get it made for your wife?”
“Actually, I’m planning it to be a wedding present for my wife.”
“It’s very beautiful but impractical. You see, there are far too many jewels and the human neck is too fragile to handle such weight.”
“Oh Ayesha, it isn’t meant to be adorned on her. It is meant to be an adornment for her.”
“Yes well, isn’t the purpose of an adornment to be worn by the lady. You do bug me so with your riddles. Couldn’t you for once tell me exactly what you mean!”
“Allright Princess. Look out to the horizon and tell me what you see.”
Ayesha scanned the vision before her very very thoroughly, hoping to find a satisfactory answer to his question. But for as far as she could see, houses dotted the terrain and seemed nothing extraordinary about it.
“All I see are houses being lit up to banish the darkness and people returning to their homes.” Hoping to stun him into an answer, she coyly asked him, “What is it that you see Hukum?”
“I see the nape of a Maharani bedecked with lustrous and enormous jewels. I do not see her face, for she is shrouded by the veil of clouds, but its not a mystery to me. I see her veil billowing in the wind and the light catching on the jewels on her neck. The glitter illuminates everything around her. I wonder if the veil is to cover her face or to heighten my senses to the sparkle of the jewels on her neck. The sparkle of the jewels is dimmed by the twinkle in her eyes or her coyly seductive smile. And once the veil lifts and the sky is clear, I see the Maharani and in her eyes I see my reflection. I see you Princess Ayesha, and it is your neck I adorn with the city’s lights.”
Ayesha blushed and looked heavenward. After years of loving a man so unattainable, Heaven had smiled.