from Ardhakathānaka

Banarasidas
Indian
1586 – 1643

 

Samvat 1662.
Came the month of Kartik and the end of the rainy season.
The great Emperor Akbar
Died in the city of Agra.

The news of his death reached Jaunpur.
The people, bereft of their emperor, felt orphaned and helpless.
The townsfolk were afraid,
Their hearts troubled, their faces pale with fear.

Banarasi suddenly
Heard of Akbar’s death.
He had been sitting on the stairs,
The news struck him like a blow upon the heart.

He swooned and fell,
He could not help himself.
He cracked his head and began bleeding profusely.
The word ‘God’ slipped from his mouth.

He had hurt his head on the stone floor
Of the courtyard, which turned red with his blood.
Everyone began making a great fuss;
His mother and father were frantic.

His mother held him in her arms,
Applied a piece of burnt cloth to his wound.
Then, making up a bed, she laid her son upon it
His mother wept unceasingly.

Meanwhile there was chaos in the city,
Riots broke out everywhere.
People sealed shut the doors of their houses,
Shopkeepers would not sit in their shops.

Fine clothes and expensive jewellery–
These, people buried underground.
Books recording their business transactions they buried somewhere else,
And hid their cash and other goods in safe and secure places.

In every house, weapons were gathered.
Men began to wear plain clothes
And casting off fine shawls, wrapped themselves in rough blankets.
The women too began to dress plainly.

No one could tell the difference between the high and the low.
The rich and the poor were alike.
No thieves or robbers were to be seen anywhere,
People were needlessly afraid.

The chaos and confusion continued for ten days.
Then peace returned:
A letter came from Agra saying that all was well.
This was what the letter said–

“The great Akbar was emperor
For fifty-two years.
Now in Samvat 1662,
He died in the month of Kartik.”

“Akbar’s oldest son
Sahib Shah Salim,
Has, in the city of Agra, assumed the throne
In Akbar’s palace.”

“He has taken the name of Nuruddin
Jahangir Sultan.
This news is being given all over the kingdom,
In every place where the emperor’s authority holds sway.”

This was the news contained in the letter
Which was read from house to house
And spread around Jaunpur
Causing the people to give thanks in relief.

There was joy in Kharagsen’s house
A state of well-being prevailed, gone were sorrow and strife;
Banarasi recovered, and bathed;
The family rejoiced and gave alms generously in their joy.

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