Introduction

The chapter “A Rose for the Princess” is written in the style of a play with multiple scenes. Maqbool, Princess Jahanara, and two servants are at the centre of the plot. Maqbool works in the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan’s gardens as a gardener. Panna, his maid, joins him at the Hanuman Mandir in the market one day. Soon after, an unexpected scenario unfolds.

Maqbool & Princess Jahanara

Maqbool works as a gardener in the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s gardens. His wife passed away many years ago, and his sons served in the Emperor’s army and are now in the Deccan with their families. His garden full of roses were his family after that. He gave each rose a name such as Gulbadan, Badal, Dilruba, and Ghata. 

He gave princess Jahanara a rose ‘Subah’ beautifully adorned in a basket one day through Dilruba the maid. In exchange, he received a silk jacket from the princess.

The next day, while digging out a flower bed, another maid named Panna appears and informs him that she is Princess Jahanara’s maid. Maqbool sits down with a basket of yellow marigolds and begins stringing a garland after finishing his digging.

He says he’s going to the Hanumanji mandir with it. Panna asks Maqbool’s help in getting her to the mandir. Maqbool accepts, but only on the condition that he would not purchase anything for her. He led her to Agra’s busy streets. Panna was awestruck and delighted as she gazed about.

The young lady moved slowly and made several stops. Panna grabbed the garland Maqbool made and laid it at the idol’s feet. She rang all of the bells before bowing down low to do pranam. She eagerly put some of the prasad into her mouth once the priest handed it to them.

The two went for a walk through the market after that. Panna sat on the masjid stairs, listening to a man singing, and chuckling at a humorous magician. She stood wide-eyed, staring up at the sky, after buying grilled chana and sweet potatoes from a street seller. 

Soldiers with swords approached her as she gazed up at the kite soaring high in the sky, claiming the princess had been kidnapped. The commander demanded Maqbool’s confession when Panna uncovered her disguise (she was Princess Jahanara). Princess Jahanara comes to his rescue and tells Maqbool to return to his garden.

Maqbool was sitting in the garden, unhappy, the next day, when Princess Jahanara appeared. The commander had ordered Maqbool to head to Sikandra right away, according to Maqbool. Princess Jahanara granted to Maqbool the Qila rose gardens for the remainder of his life and asked him to deliver her prasadam every time he visited the mandir.