The evening sun was setting, the sky was covered in multiple hues of gold and red. The peaceful environment of the beautiful royal garden with its trees and plants sourced from all over the world, could not quieten the troubled mind of prince Shahzad. A few days ago, his two elder brothers who had gone for a hunting expedition to the nearby forest were waylaid and killed by robbers. But Shahzad knew no robber had the courage to slaughter a royal hunting party, he was well aware who was behind the many strange deaths in the royal family in the last few months.
It had all started some months ago with the poisoning of the then crown prince, who was succeeded by his younger brother. Shahzad was certain that it was the current crown prince, who was removing all opposition to his succession by getting the princes in the family killed. A young cousin to the crown prince, Shahzad’s life was in danger as well. The path to the Mughal throne had always been steeped in blood, but there had never been so much blood spilled.
Shahzad had left his chamber to find some peace in his favourite corner of the royal garden near the marble baradari (pavilion), the spot which had a collection of the rare blue rose. A nature lover, the prince was fascinated by this exotic flower, and had himself brought the blue rose saplings from Isfahan in Iran and planted them here. As he looked to admire their beauty for the umpteen time, he felt as if someone was watching him. He glanced around but saw no one. Then he heard some music, it was so faint that the sound seemed to be coming from within his left ear. Startled, something made him look up. He was astounded by what he saw – parallel to the dome above the baradari, floating in the air, were seven flowers. In each flower was sitting, what seemed like, a celestial being. The five who were female, were all watching him, while one male was playing the mridangam (an ancient Indian percussion instrument) and the other who was wearing a green dance mask had cymbals in his hands. Then in a flash, they were gone.
Did his troubled mind imagine the breathtaking vision? Did he unknowingly fall asleep, and dreamt it all? Was it a trick of light reflected by the multicoloured mosaic on the dome? Shahzad had too many questions in his mind. He returned to his chamber and knew he could not share what he saw and heard with anyone, but he felt a strange lightness of heart and happiness. He picked up his quill and started writing, to express what he felt and could feel a wave of bliss wash over him. The outpouring was like a floodgate of words, and after sometime he was astonished that he had written a beautiful poem on The Blue Rose. He realised the process of writing was making him connect to the inner core of his being, to a sacred and precious place, which he wanted to continue. Day and night he would sit and write beautiful verses, which gradually started getting noticed by other members of the royal household.
The crown prince, who took great pride in being a patron of arts, also heard of Shahzad’s writings, and started admiring what his young cousin wrote. A few months passed, the killings in the royal family abated with the crown prince taking over as the emperor.
Shahzad was one of the very few who was spared – the vision had made a poet out of him and saved his life. He lived a long life as a celebrated poet whose work was admired for generations to come. And, if you are wondering did those nature beings appear to him again, the answer is yes, a few times. Whenever he faced the most challenging moments in his life, they appeared in different forms in different ways, always taking his breath away, and reigniting in his heart the love for life and laughter.