The lastest issue of the New Yorker --- and how fortunate we are that it's all available online -- carries a piece by Salman Rushdie, clearly an extract from his forthcoming The Enchantress of Florence, featuring Emperor Akbar and his queen, Jodhabai who, in Rushdie's hands, is an imaginary character: "Queens floated within his palaces like ghosts, Rajput and Turkish sultanas playing catch-me-if-you-can. One of these royal personages did not really exist. She was an imaginary wife, dreamed up by Akbar in the way that lonely children dream up imaginary friends, and in spite of the presence of many living, if floating, consorts, the Emperor was of the opinion that it was the real queens who were the phantoms and the nonexistent beloved who was real. He gave her a name, Jodha, and no man dared gainsay him."
Should have thought of that, Mr Gowarikar.
irrespective of what rushdie does with his prose, the name jodha allegedly means, simply, 'princess' and was a fairly common name in the sixteenth century. if this is true -- and there's no way of proving otherwise -- naming her simply 'princess' actually replaces the person with a ghost. the individual ceases to exist, as if all the king needs is an idea for a wife.
Awesome story. And fantastic job on plucking it out of the website even before it was to go live. That would be the 25th of this month I believe.
Now, I've got to keep coming back to this blog as frequently as I can.
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