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"ਸਾਹਿਬ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਵਿਰੁੱਧ ਕੁਫ਼ਰ ਤੋਲਣ ਵਾਲੇ, ਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬਾਨ ਦੇ ਵਿਰੁੱਧ ਬੋਲਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਨੂੰ ਸੋਧਣਾ ਹਰ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖ ਦਾ ਫ਼ਰਜ਼ ਹੈ। ਇਹੋ ਜਿਹੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਨੂੰ ਜੇ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਅਤਿਵਾਦੀ ਕਹਿੰਦੀ ਹੈ ਤਾਂ ਮੈਂ ਅਤਿਵਾਦੀ ਹਾਂ।"
- Bhai Ranjit Singh (Jathedar Sri Akal Takht Sahib)

Satwant Kaur : An 18th Century Legend (Chapter 5)

Source: Bhai Veer Singh Ji, translated by Bimal Kaur

Satwant Kaur continued her narrative.

I learnt that the woman was not his wife, because she disappeared soon after. This villain then asked me to marry him, but before he could force me to do so, you gave orders to your soldiers to march immediately and he had to leave to join his regiment. In the resulting confusion, I was left behind. But when your guards saw me tied up, they pushed me along with the other men and women you had captured to work as your slaves. I too was sold off along with others. But I didn't see that devil again till today.

Amir: Where did you see him?

Satwant Kaur: (Pointing to a Pathan officer standing nearby) There, there he is!

The Amir turned furiously on him and abused and cursed him, "May you be damned in hell! Is this how you repay a good deed? May Khuda's anger rain down on your head!"

Turning to the jailor, the Amir then pronounced, "Spare this girls life, but shoot this man at once!"

Satwant Kaur: Amir Sahib stop a minute, please. By killing him, you cannot undo my sufferings. I have no more strength left. Please do me a kindness and take my life instead.
The pitiable condition of the young girl touched the Amir's heart. In a soft voice he said, "You have gained my sympathy, young woman. Ask me anything you want."
Satwant Kaur: Please spare the life of my Fatima's husband, Khan Sahib, and don't punish the jailor. If you want to be still more generous then please send me home to my family.

Amir: I accept the first two requests but I can't fulfill your last wish. I don't think I shall ever find a more self-sacrificing girl than you. I shall relieve you of all your pain and suffering and make you my queen. All the riches and comforts will be yours to enjoy.

The Amir signaled to his guards, who promptly escorted Satwant Kaur to the women's apartments of the palace. A beautiful set of rooms was placed at her disposal and a number of maids-in-waiting were appointed to serve her and take care of her every need.

Satwant Kaur was quite unsettled by this change in her circumstances. But very soon, the clout of worry lifted and her face began to glow with a quiet confidence. Casually, she walked into her room, and dressed herself in the rich silken robes and jewelry placed there. She walked around-inspecting al the rooms, ordering the maids to carry out jobs and finally sending them out on various errands.

As night fell, the Amir came to the palace. He was very happy to see Satwant in her new role. He sat down, smiling. One of the maids came in with beautiful flowers and the qazi walked in to perform the nikah-the marriage ceremony.

Just then thick smoke began to pour into the room. Everyone panicked and ran around to find the source of the smoke. Satwant too got up and rushed towards the door. When she opened it, flames leapt into the room, setting fire to it. Everyone began to scream and push, trying to find a way out. Taking advantage of the noise and confusion, Satwant Kaur escaped.

After some time when the fire was put out, the Amir asked about the girl; but no one could tell him of her whereabouts. Angrily, he ordered the servants and guards to search the whole palace and its grounds. The burnt section was also thoroughly examined, but not a sign was found. Finally, thinking that she might have run out in fright, the Amir sent out his soldiers, but they returned with only a half-burnt dupatta and a gold bangle, blackened by smoke.

Meanwhile, Satwant had reached a lonely part of the town. Sitting on a stone she began to review the recent happenings. She was taken aback at her own daring in setting fire to the palace. She had taken care to send away the maids so that no one would be injured, and had managed to escape with ease.

'Where did I get the confidence and the courage for all this?' She thought. 'By God's grace I have got out of one tricky situation, but what should I do now? How can I reach Punjab? Miles and miles of rough land, with thieves and dacoits roaming across it...it's not possible to make this hazardous journey on my own. Then what am I to do? Shall I go to Fatima? Will she help, or will she hand me over to the Amir's soldiers? Oh, Lord! guide me, show me the way.'

(continued...)


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