The Begum and the Dastan
Author: Tarana Husain Khan
9789389152609 | PB | pp. 280 | 2021 | Westland Publications
The Begum and the Dastan tells moving tales of pride,loss and courage of women behind the purdah trapped in the rich, splendid world of the Nawabs and sardars.
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In 1897 in the princely state of Sherpur, Feroza Begum, beautiful and wilful, defies her family to attend the sawani celebrations at Nawab Shams Ali Khan’s Benazir Palace. Feroza is kidnapped and detained in the Nawab’s glittering harem, her husband is forced to divorce her, and her family disowns her. Reluctantly, Feroza marries the Nawab, and is compelled to negotiate the glamour and sordidness of the harem.
In the bazaar chowk, Kallan Mirza, a skilled dastango, spins a hauntingly familiar tale of a despotic sorcerer, Tareek Jaan, and his grand illusory city, the Tilism-e-Azam, where women are confined in underground basements. As Kallan descends deeper into an opium addiction, the boundaries of fantasy and reality begin to blur.
And in the present day, Ameera listens to Dadi narrating the tale of Feroza Begum, Ameera’s great-grandmother. Confined to her house because her parents haven’t paid her school fees, Ameera takes comfort from Dadi’s story. As her world disintegrates, she is compelled to ask herself if anything has changed for Sherpur’s women.
Tarana Husain Khan
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