Fatima's husband had earlier married a second time. The woman, whose name was Zainab, was extremely beautiful. Her character had background, however, were not. Khan Sahib had fallen for her looks, and she used all her wiles to encourage him in his life of dissipation. Her unending demands for jewellery and other luxuries had brought about his downfall.
Gurbani warns us:
Soorat Dekh Na Bhool Gawaara
Mitha Mohara Jooth Pasaara.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ang 1077)
(Don't be misled by a person's looks as physical beauty does not always mean that the soul is equally beautiful; it can lead to one being caught in a web of lies and deceit).
The Khan had now realized the true worth of Fatima, who had remained loyal and faithful to him throughout. He stopped visiting Zainab and only sent her money every month for her needs.
Zainab felt extremely aggrieved and began to plan how she could take revenge on Khan Sahib and Fatima.
A cunning old woman, Sayd, had been in Zainab's employment for a long time, and was completely in the confidence of her mistress. She was ent to join the staff of Fatima's household, which she managed to do. In a short time, Sayd took over most of Fatima's personal work and, in this way, managed always to be near her.
Fatima told Satwant Kaur about engaging a new maid, but she did not pay much heed to this. It was only when she found Fatima singing the old woman's praises at all times that Satwant's sixth sense began to give warning signals. She felt there was something odd about a new maid becoming so close to her mistress in such a short time, and some of the things Fatima told her about Sayd somehow did not ring true.
One night, when Fatima and her husband were talking in their bedroom, Satwant Kaur quietly left her room to go out for some fresh air. In the dim light she saw Sayd lurking near the bedroom door listening to the conversation. Without making a sound Satwant Kaur slipped back and the next day she told Fatima that it was not safe to keep Sayd in the house, and that she should dismiss her. Fatima was not willing but, at Satwant's insistence, she talked about this to her husband. Khan Sahib, too, was very pleased with Sayd's work and scoffed at Fatima's pleas. When Fatima continued to urge him he asked the reason for wanting to send Sayd away. Fatima had no convincing reply to give, so after a little discussion the matter was dropped.
Sayd had listened to this conversation also and was dismayed that Fatima was becoming suspicious about her. She couldn't understand this as she was always careful in all she did and said. One thing puzzled Sayd. She noticed that during the day, Fatima disappeared for long periods. She could not be found anywhere in the house and none of the servants could give any information when Sayd asked them.
Her curiosity was aroused and Sayd began to trail her mistress even more closely, but without success. One night when everyone had gone to sleep, Sayd crept up to Fatima's door and waited. Towards midnight she heard her mistress get up and go to the other room. On silent feet she followed. It was pitch dark, and she could see nothing, but she heard the sound of a door opening and closing. And then there was silence.
Satwant Kaur spent her days patiently, but at no time did she accept this room as her home, where she could safely spend her whole life. Memories of her family-the peace and joy of satsang, the singing of kirtan which was done in secret to avoid the attention of the aggressive rulers-tugged at her heart all the time. She was constantly making plans to return to her homeland and praying to the Akal Purakh to make it happen soon. She had asked Fatima to get two sets of men's clothing made for her. She felt that if she travelled disguised as a man, she would be less conspicuous and thus safer.
Meanwhile, Sayd was sniffing around to find the secret of Fatima's strange behavior. One day she hid herself under a bundle of clothes in the room with the secret door.
In the afternoon, when Fatima quietly entered and opened the secret door to meet Satwant Kaur, Sayd saw everything. In the next few days she watched carefully till she was sure she could open the door herself.
The next night she tested the key and was satisfied when the lock opened, but she waited till early morning before going in. It was still dark when she entered the secret room. She could see the faint outline of a figure sitting cross-legged and hear the sound of soft breathing. But she could not make out whether the person was a man or woman. She continued to peer, but when the figure moved suddenly, Sayd quickly retreated to the outer room closing the door behind her.
Satwant Kaur was extremely worried. When Fatima ame later to meet her, she found Satwant Kaur ready to leave. "What happened?' Fatima asked.
"My staying here has become dangerous for both of us, so I am leaving," replied Satwant Kaur and she related the night's events to Fatima.
Fatima: Who could it have been?
Satwant Kaur: Bibi, even though I have not met or seen her, I am sure it was your new main. All along I have felt that she was not a good woman, and would harm you in some way.
Fatima: Yes, I agree it must have been Sayd. When you told me earlier to get rid of her, I did try; but Khan Sahib is so impressed with her devotion that he did not agree and I did not want to go against his wishes.
Satwant Kaur: I do understand, but for the sake of peace in your home, you must get rid of her. Well, I must go now. I don't want Sayd to see me here again.
Fatima: No, please, don't talk of leaving. I can't bear the thought of it. Wait, I have an idea. There is another room like this one, a little further ahead. You can safely stay there.
After a little discussion, they decided that for the present, this was the best plan.
Sayd was now convinced that she had found the right weapon to destroy Khan Sahib's love and trust for Fatima. Finding him alone, Sayd went to him and began to whisper, "My Lord, a strange man lives in your home, and your wife visit him every night, but you know nothing about it."
Blood rushed to the Khan's head and putting his hand on the sword he shouted harshly for Fatima.
Hurriedly, Sayd went to fetch Fatima, but she could not find her anywhere. This was better than she had expected! She was sure Fatima was in the secret room with the strange man. Now was the time to take Khan Sahib there and catch her red-handed.
She rushed back to Khan Sahib and said, "Come with me, my Lord. Let me show you proof of what I said."
Boiling with rage, Khan Sahib followed Sayd, who opened the secret door. But her triumph was short lived. The room was bare. She rushed around trying to find some sign of the occupants, but there was none.
Khan Sahib retraced his steps-his thoughts in turmoil. Anger at Sayd was mixed with feelings of shame and chagrin. He turned on Sayd and scolded her soundly. Then he went to look for Fatima. As soon as he entered the bedroom he saw Fatima sitting on the mat, praying.
In a fit of remorse, he moved forward and caught Fatima in a tight embrace. He then proceeded to tell her the whole sorry tale. Fatima reminded him softly "My Lord, I had requested you earlier to dismiss this woman. She is evil and a trouble-maker."
Khan Sahib immediately went out and gave Sayd her marching orders. Thoroughly disgruntled, Sayd left. And her departure was a source of great relief for one and all.
That night, when the whole household was lost in sleep. Fatima got up and went as usual to meet Satwant Kaur. She was shocked to find the room empty. In panic she began to search but there was no sign of Satwant Kaur. The thought that she would never see her again was too much for Fatima to bear and she fainted.
For quite some time she lay on the floor. When finally she opened her eyes, she found that her head was in Satwant Kaur's lap, and she was sprinkling water on her face to revive her. With joy surging in her heart, Fatima sat up and held Satwant Kaur in a warm embrace.
Then she asked, "What happened? Where did you go?"
Satwant replied: "Bibi, I was very upset by the incident with Sayd. It made me realize that to continue to stay here would threaten your happiness and even your life. I am not worried about myself, but why should you suffer for giving me refuge?"
Fatima: But who will find out? Sayd was the only danger and she has gone. The other servants are deeply loyal to me.
Satwant Kaur: True, but Nature's ways are strange, and one's most carefully made plans can go awry. That is why I went to check out the tunnel which leads to the jungle. I walked through the trees for a short distance. The whole place was deserted, but then I heard voices. Two guards were talking, and when I crept nearer I realized that they were discussing me. It seems the Amir is not entirely convinced that I perished in the palace fire, so he has announced a reward for the person who finds me. I did not wait to hear more but quickly returned to find you lying here.
Fatima: You are a very brave woman.
Satwant Kaur: Life is not always a great teacher, and the experiences I have gone through have made me tough.
Fatima: I feel that now, more than ever, you must not go. For the present this is safest for you.
Satwant Kaur: I realize that, but one can't always think of ones safety. I desperately want to see my parents.
Fatima: You plan to return to Punjab? Don't you think that it's an impossible dream for a young girl with the whole army looking out for her?
Satwant Kaur: I know, but I cannot give up. Again and again my heart urges me to go and not to worry about the consequences. A Sikh girl learns to face danger with fortitude.
Fatima: My dear, your courage is remarkable! Whenever our soldiers used to come back after one of their raids into India, they use to tell us about the valiant community called Sikhs, who faced danger with a smile and fought the enemy with tenacity and determination. We used to laugh at them for making up such stories. But after meeting you I have realized that they only spoke the truth.
Satwant Kaur: Bibi, I don't know what to say. We have no kingdom, no forts, no land or wealth. The whole Panth lives with a single-minded belief in the Lord, and to uphold this faith it faces untold dangers and vicious attacks, and earns the praises from its worst enemies.
Fatima: True! I have seen this with my own eyes.
A rustling sound interrupted their conversation. Hurriedly saying goodbye to Satwant Kaur, Fatima left. Satwant Kaur was already dress in male garments. Now she too quickly went through the passage and out into the woods.