The great-great-granddaughter of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, Madhu, is illiterate, and makes a living by running a tea-stall with her mother in the slums of Calcutta.

Thanks to an initiative by a journalist to rescue her from penury, the Ministry of Coal has decided to employ her to run errands in Coal India’s offices.


Does she deserve any special treatment (like a job in a government office) just because she has royal blood running through her veins? May be not. But it is quite heart-breaking to see this royal descendant — whose forefathers include emperors like Zafar, Akbar, Babur and Gengiz Khan — in such poor conditions.

This reminds of that great ghazal (supposedly) written by Bahadur Shah Zafar himself.

na kisii kii aa.Nkh kaa nuur huu.N
na kisii ke dil kaa qaraar huu.N
jo kisii ke kaam na aa sakaa
mai.n vo ek musht-e-gubaar huu.N

jo chaman fizaa.n me.n uja.D gayaa
mai.n usii kii fasl-e-bahaar huu.N

The semblance is agonizing.

Also, see my earlier post where I reviewed a wonderful book about Zafar: The Last Mughal.

[Picture Courtesy: BBC]

P.S. Musht-e-gubaar means ‘a handful of dust’.


4 responses to “Musht-e-Gubaar

  1. Ritesh

    While the present condition in which they are is purely their fate, I personally think they should be given some goverment job or atleast people like Ashutosh Gowarikar or other historians should pay some royalty to the family for they have used their grand parents (add great..5-6 times) story and name to earn lot of money.

  2. Ritesh

    But i really feel sorry, Family of a great dynasty….may be one of the stakeholders of Taj mahal…..are on road selling tea!!

  3. Vishal

    I have no problem with philanthropists helping her (and people like her) out, but a government job means that we’re giving preferential treatment based on inheritance – which is like discrimination against poor people who don’t have royal descendants, and that doesn’t look like a very good idea to me…

  4. skinnysim

    Has any one looked at any posters touting India as a tourist destination, they all have one common theme; ‘Mughal Legacy’ which is also her legacy, it is what her ancestors gave to India (eg Tajmahal, Red Fort etc etc). In my opinion, we as a nation/people have a much bigger heart to let her live like this. Shame on India, shame on all Indians, if this is not rectified.

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