This is a story about a beautiful woman. Her name was Jahanara.

What was her beauty like? As Mir sahib wrote in a sher:

Everything’s indebted to the brightness of her beauty
Whether it’s the flame at Kaba or the lamp at Somnath

Three young men came to the nawab’s court with the intention of marrying Jahanara. All three were well-matched; the nawab could not decide whom to give his daughter in marriage to. Eventually he left the choice to her. Such was the Lord’s desire. The months rolled by, but Jahanara could not make up her mind. She could not get married for a sudden illness claimed her life. The three young men laid her in her grave together. The first one remained at the graveyard. All he could think about was the twist of destiny that had snatched his beloved so soon from this world.

The second young man became a wandering fakir. He wanted to find out the reason for the death of the woman he had loved. And the third young man stayed back with the nawab to console him.

The one who became a fakir arrived at an unknown land. He heard that an extraordinary man lived here, capable of miracles. The young fakir arrived at his house. When they sat down to dinner that night, the grandson of the wise man began to cry. At once the wise man rose and flung the boy into the fire.

‘What have you done?’ shrieked the young fakir. ‘I have seen many sins and horrors in this world, but can anyone commit such a dastardly act?’

Smiling, the wise man said, ‘Don’t be distraught. Even ordinary events seem unusual without proper knowledge.’ He recited an incantation, whereupon the child walked out of the fire.

The young fakir memorised the incantation. He returned to his own land after some time. soon as he recited the incantation at the grave of his beloved, Jahanara appeared before him. The nawab launched a nationwide celebration when his daughter returned. The three young men came once more to marry Jahanara. Do you know whom Jahanara chose? She chose her lover. Do you know who her lover was, Manto bhai? Why are you staring at me that way? I cannot acknowledge you as a writer unless you can tell me the answer.

Yes, you’re right! I knew you could do it. The young fakir gave Jahanara her life—it was humane behaviour on his part. The third young man comforted the nawab like his own son. But only the first … yes, he was the only lover, who had remained by the beautiful woman’s grave all this while.

Even death had not been able to push him away.

(The above story is from the book ‘Dozkhnama’ by Rabisankar Bal )

Leave a Reply