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We will be in conversation with Nikita Singh and talking all things love and books! 22nd Feb Mumbai | 23rd Feb Bangalore.
She is younger, prettier, taller, more talented than me. But one day when she will be old like me, the king may go ahead and marry some younger women, I mumbled.
“I was a 13th century princess of a kingdom and apple of my mother’s eye. At a tender age of 15 I was married off to a prince of another kingdom.
Truly speaking I was in love with a another boy who was not from a royal family. I compromised with the situation when my mother let me know that I was lucky to marry a would-be king, although my own brother can never be the king. My mother was the 4th wife of my father, and my elder step brother, son of the first wife, will be the future king.
I had a great interest in archery but I couldn’t continue it after marriage. As everybody expected the queen to be a epitome of modesty, class and elegance. So I tried my best to be a fair queen to the king and to the kingdom by learning new skills. It took me years to win my mother in law’s heart.
Now at the age of 35, things are going on its own way. I am a doting mother of the future king, a caring daughter in law of the king’s mother, a lovable wife of the king, and a dutiful royal member of the court. I enjoy all the privileges of being in a royal family and am always surrounded by servants willing to do my bidding.
I rule the kingdom when my king is away from the kingdom for war or tour. He always brings precious gifts to impress me on his return. But this tour is different. I hear from one of my servant that he has a mistress. I ignored it. I believe my king is not going in for an extra marital affair. He loves me.
But after a few days my king is again going for the tour. This time I was suspicious and asked him directly. He smiled at me and confirmed that in order to gain the confidence of the neighbouring kingdom he needs to marry their daughter. My life scattered like a glass. I sought my parents’ help but they can’t do anything. My mother is now busy for searching my own brother a bride who must be the only heir of her kingdom.
A king can marry a number of women. Society allows it, even encourages it, and I am helpless about the situation. I cried for many days and nights, prayed to god, but nothing help helped. Once, I decided to return to my parents, but that means dishonour to them.
Finally the day arrived when my king returned with his new wife. Initially I was angry with his new wife to set eyes on my man. How could she marry a married man?! But then, she is not the only one to blame. My king who is not only mine anymore, started an extra marital affair and marry his mistress.
While watching them daily laughing and walking holding hands in the garden I remember my youthful days with my husband. With time my anger tuned into a sense of inferiority in me. She is younger, prettier, taller, more talented than me. But one day when she will be old like me, the king may go ahead and marry some younger women, I mumbled.
Nowadays I don’t feel like dressing up properly, as I know no one is going to complement me other than my maid servants, especially if I want to dress up for myself, I know I will be judged for it. I am living the life of a lonely widow. I asked my mother the reason for being the 4th wife to my father. In answer she exclaimed that it was the only way to save her father’s kingdom from invaders. Emptiness filled my heart.
Sometimes I think about my childhood crush. In this situation if I look for love outside marriage this society will mark me as a sinner. Why are society rules so different for men and women? No one is going to remember my years of service and loyalty. No one is going to remember the king as a unfaithful husband. History will only remember me as a first wife of a king or mother of a king. So I achieved nothing, won no war, did nothing of importance at all.
I go by many names through all of History. Nagmati, first wife of Rana Rawal Ratan Singh, Kashibai, first wife of Bajirao Peshwa, Mariam-uz-Zamani, first wife of Akbar, Nurjahan, first wife of Jahangir, and many many more unnamed ones…”
Header image is a still from the movie Bajirao Mastani.