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"ਲੱਗੀ ਧਮਕ ਸਾਰੇ ਹਿੰਦੁਸਤਾਨ ਅੰਦਰ, ਦਿੱਲੀ, ਆਗਰੇ, ਹਾਂਸੀ ਹਸਾਰ ਮੀਆਂ। ਬੀਕਾਨੇਰ, ਲਖਨਊ, ਅਜਮੇਰ, ਜੈਪੁਰ, ਪਈਆਂ ਭਾਜੜਾਂ ਜਮਨਾ ਤੋਂ ਪਾਰ ਮੀਆਂ। ਚੱਲੀ ਸਭ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦੀ ਬਾਦਸ਼ਾਹੀ, ਨਹੀਂ ਦਲਾਂ ਦਾ ਅੰਤ ਸ਼ੁਮਾਰ ਮੀਆਂ। ਸ਼ਾਹ ਮੁਹੰਮਦਾ ਕਿਸੇ ਨਾ ਅਟਕਣਾ ਈਂ, ਸਿੰਘ ਰਹਿਣਗੇ ਦਿੱਲੀ ਨੂੰ ਮਾਰ ਮੀਆਂ।(੬੩)"
- Shah Mohammed (Jangnama)

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

Source: Bhai Veer Singh Ji, translated by Bimal Kaur

That night there was an air of celebration in the camp. Everyone went cheerfully about the tasks of cooking, eating and settling down to sleep.

The travelers were eager for the dawn when finally the signal for departure would be given by the beating of the nagara.
At a little distance from the camp. Agha Khan sat in a troubled mood. In front of him sat Jaswant Singh.

Agha Khan: So, Jaswant Singh tell me what was the secret which you were trying to hide?

Jaswant Singh: To be frank, Khan Sahib, though we have vowed to be true friends, it does not include revealing all one’s secrets. You will have to win my trust by showing your complete trust in me, if you want to know my secret. I reiterate that I will keep my faith with you and help you in every way I can. As to whether Sikhs keep their word or not, you can asks the Sikhs here, or the Pathans who have been to Punjab and have had dealings with Sikhs.

Agha Khan: I know this for a fact, otherwise I would not have approached you. If you were not a Sikh, my lips would have remained sealed.

Jaswant Singh: Then tell me how I can help you.

Agha Khan: (Hesitating for a while, then whispering, ‘May Allah guide me’) I have been given the job of protecting this caravan and seeing it safely only up to Peshawar. What is trouble me is that I have a maidservant who nurtured me during childhood. She is in prison, though she is innocent of any wrongdoing. I love her dearly and I want to save her. We are leaving tomorrow and till now I’ve not bee able to think of a way of rescuing her. I am being sent on this trip so that she can be executed in my absence, and no sign of her remains by the time I return.

Jaswant Singh: Which person has so much power he can go against your wishes and order her execution?

Agha Khan: It’s a long story, but the gist is that my maid knows some secret about my father, and he is worried that she will reveal it to me. Also my stepmother is against her, and has had strong words with me about this. My father loves me dearly and cannot bear to be parted from me. He is sending me on this mission just to separate me from my nanny and to get rid of her during my absence. Ironically, I already know the secrets my father wants so desperately to keep hidden from me:

Jaswant Singh: What caused the ill-feelings between you and your stepmother?

Agha Khan: Must be my nature, which is different from the rest of the family. I have in me aggression and killing, but have to maintain a false front. Also my nanny had warned me against getting too close to my stepmother whose show of love for me is quite false.

Jaswant Singh: That was asking for trouble! Anyhow, let’s see.

Agha Khan: (impatiently) Yes, yes, what can we do now?

Jaswant Singh: It is possible for you to help her to escape?

Agha Khan: That is the least of the problems! The difficulty is to get her safely away. I don’t have any confidants who can keep her in hiding, and I can’t send her alone on the long journey to Punjab. Khyber Pass is a most desolate and dangerous area. The tribes living in the mountains are like blood-thirsty animals, who don’t hesitate to butcher the lone traveler.

Jaswant Singh: Then you will have to bring her here, which you can do with the necessary security. Leave the rest to me.

Agha Khan: What will you do?

Jaswant Singh: Dressed in the male garb as a Sikh, she can act as our servant, who is looking after our luggage. I will take care of my companions and see that no one gets even a hint of this.

Agha Khan: If anyone gets news of this, I shall be torn to pieces!

Jaswant Singh: How will any of this leak out? And if it does, you can tear me from limb to limb. But why do you underestimate your own authority and position? Who can be bold enough to question you? You must show confidence in yourself. It is good to think and plan, but it must be followed by strength in action.

Agha Khan: My loving father can be extremely harsh and hard-hearted. He has been to Hindustan eight or nine times. He has looted and plundered and killed innumerable innocent people. All this has turned him into a tyrant.

Jaswant Singh: That is understandable, but you can show courage in your beliefs! When a person gets engulfed by problems, Sikhism teaches him that while on one side he must have faith in the Lord, on the other he must have confidence in his motives. He must never become disconsolate and apathetic.

Agha Khan: Yes, I see. So if I bring her, you will see this through? You guarantee this?

Jaswant Singh: Waheguru will help us achieve this. The only guarantee is the true promise made by a Sikh.

At these words, Agha Khan jumped on to his horse, cracked the whip and rode of like the wind.

(to be continued...)


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