The Sultan and the Gypsy

Update as of 2 February 2010

Bhagyam was plaiting her hair with the tassels and mirror embellished kunjalam, the hair adornment, when she heard the reverberating beats – like a clap that got stuck within a brass vessel and did not know how to get out. The claps recurred and when she thought it had died down, she heard it again. Sharifa, the royal eunuch rushed into the Zenana, the women’s quarters at the top of the hill, panting. She shouted out in her hoarse voice directing all the womenfolk to rush out with her. Sharifa was a trusted aide to the Sultan, Mohammed Quli and was the only one allowed to move around freely in the Fort city. She was familiar with all parts of the fort and city and also privy to the ruler’s personal matters like this one. Bhagyam had recently moved into the fort. She was young, pretty and fearless, and these were the prime reasons why the Sultan was smitten by her, during his sojourns around his kingdom. Bhagyam was a gypsy, a Banjaran, and had been camping with her folks in a nearby village along the river Musi. She too was charmed by the Sultan (and who wouldn’t if promised to be made queen); and she eloped with the Sultan without her father’s consent. She had been introduced to the Queen Mother, Begum, and joined the harem of the queens in the safest part of the walled city atop the hill. The Sultan loved her a lot and had already ordered the royal priest to arrange for a lavish wedding. But this had to wait for now, or so everyone one thought when the claps sounded an alarm. The sudden attack by the Banjaras, local gypsies, at the fort entrance was being countered while the sentry posted in the tower near the gate used the high-tech warning system specially designed to warn of any danger – the clap, from his tower. The acoustics in the fort city was superior to any found in the kingdom or even beyond at that time. The clap could be heard over 300 feet away at the top of the hill fort. Sharifa and the ladies, including Princess Bhagyam, were rushed into a room that led to a tunnel system which would get the women down the fort to safety. It was labyrinth of corridors with muted lighting and could be navigated only by an expert. The womenfolk followed Sharifa down a series of steps and then rested for a while in what was perhaps a dark hall (designed for such rests) and then started down again, until they reached half-way down the fort to where the Sultan and his warriors were. This would be the safest part of the fort and Sharifa led the entourage into a dark closed room with little lighting, but well ventilated by small crevices that brought in fresh air into the room and a small flowing pool by the side, also helped provide some refresher to the tired women.

The start today at D Street was upbeat as the D Boyz rejoiced some good news from abroad – especially cheered by the pleasing ring on a stock exchange by 2 dishy Bollywood stars. But the fears of uncertain times ahead scared the D Boyz to push the SENSEX down – and during the day it looked like they were mirroring Bhagyam and the zenanas, climbing down steps, then resting a while, using some corridors to walk a little, then running down another flight of stairs till it ended over 200 points, but with some rest at the end, climbed onto a platform a few points above 200 – at 193 points down, plunging the SENSEX to “safer’ zones of 16163.

The Sultan’s men quickly overpowered the ill-equipped Banjaras and took them captive to their ruler. Sultan Mohammed Quli would have simply raised his hand and ordered the execution of the motley captured army, if not for Bhagyam who came running out of the closeted room, when Sharifa gave her an almost live commentary of the happenings at the Durbar Hall (administrative Hall of the Palace). She begged the Sultan to spare her folks and instead allow her to talk to them. The Sultan would never deny his future queen anything, so he stepped aside, and asked Sharifa to be the go-between in this dialogue. Bhagyam maybe a Banjaran, like the captured, but she was now a Qutb Shahi princess and would soon be a queen. It was not appropriate for her to talk to a group of men some of whom were not family members. Bhagyam cleared the air of confusion of her “abduction” by the Moslem King, and confirmed that she was equal party to the elopement. The Banjara Father, shook his head, but knew his duaghter’s strong will and conceded. He knelt down, head bowed and addressed the Sultan, “will you take my daughter as your wedded wife and give her the status of the Chief Queen?” And the Sultan agreed, ordering his men to release the Banjaras and allow them to return to their hamlet by the river. They needed to get back quickly to prepare for the grand wedding.



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