Gunfire is all around-only smoke is visible-their carriage is under attack from the plunders of India.
They have native soldiers escorting them- but the robbers were equally matched for the soldiers- and they are heavily armed.
Heated lead has flied past the lady from America-an inch off its trajectory and it would be the life and death determining moment.
A man, like a demon is charging towards her- a devilish looking man with bright metallic weapon.
She closed her eye in fear- how does death feels?
The man is fearless- in the name of goddess Kali they can even die laughing.
Another gunshot- does she have any sensation of blood dripping out of her body?
Is she feeling sleepy?
Welcome to India 1855-when the rule of the East India Company has been established throughout India barring a few native states-which are fighting hard to establish their autonomy on the face of the imperialism!
Doctor Margaret in Delhi by Waheed Rabbani is a chronicle of the lady doctor-one of the pioneers of the American history of medical learning(till then the learning of medical science was heavily gender biased)- in India as a member of the medical service of India . But more than a memoir- it is the story of a white lady whose destiny in her unconsciousness was merged with the destiny of the native states, the soldiers, the great Mughals….
It is a story amid the backdrop of the most turbulent times of the Indian history- within two years there will be a fire erupting out.
for those who are not familiar with the story of Margaret-or have missed the train to ride with her in her fascinating journey – Doctor Wallidad –a modern day doctor had discovered a beautiful sea chest in his hospital lying unclaimed-from where had been recovered princely jewels form Indian native states and the journal of the experience of the life of the lady doctor.
That chest belonged to Margaret- no prize for guessing!
How did the valuables including the crown of Jhansi sneak through to the chest of the lady? In a time machine we have to travel to the days of the company rule- to the days whose mention will always be there in the history of India in blood and tears- those fiery days- smokes of rebellion coiling up against the tyranny of company rule!
Let us come to the story now. The curtain of the story rises on a ship taking the doctor to her trip to Calcutta-the capital of India! She has lost her dear husband in the war in Crimea. The wound is very fresh- especially in the light of the fact that it was sheer backstabbing from his friend!
‘Et tu , Brute?’
In the ship she was introduced to Colonel Humphrey. Remember readers-this name…………..
It was a moment full of emotions when she met her father- the man had travelled the way from his mission to Calcutta to receive his daughter. Destiny took them away –after she got married and destiny took them closer again-after the demise of her husband.
Irony of fate……
The author had made extensive research on the history of the city that is enough to have a visualization of the then capital of India- be it’s skyline, be it’s culture, be it’s tradition, be the oriental life of the native and the Europeans. It is like a picture drawn by Daniel of old Calcutta-no I am a little wrong- more elaborate picture-such is the bold brushstroke- such is the selection of colours.
And when India being a country of snake charmers, Can snakes be far behind?
“I heard a slight hissing and rustling sound from the top of the bed, a few feet away. I turned around and noticed the long, thick tail of a snake slithering on the silk bedcover. It must have spotted me. For it rose about a quarter of its length and displayed its ugly head through the parted mosquito net. It was a cobra.”
Silk bedcover just reminds me that the writer has an elaborate eye for details-an essential ingredient for the picture of the story to float before the eyes.
Soon the tender heart of the lady felt sympathetic with the cause of the Indian- be the imperial policy of the colonial rule or the behaviour of the Europeans towards black natives-she started to found it increasingly difficult to swallow. At the place of work of her father-she got to mix up with a native ruler- but destiny has some other thought for her.
During her stay to Delhi she found herself at the helm of the kingly affairs- the great Mughals –their hope and aspirations- conspiracy and dark side- soon started to moist her mind. And events started to happen. And little Jan- the sign of love of her dear husband comes to her lap!
“Doctor Margaret, what do you think of y son, Jawan?’ she asked.
‘He is a very nice boy.’
‘Do you think he can be the next king?’
‘Not for me to decide, your majesty. I believe it is something king Zafar should discuss with governor general.”
Well readers-can you smell of blood? if you do-you have a good sense of picking things-as soon storm is going to blow-over her life-over he land- over the rulle of company-that will decide the land of India!
All the time – an army officer increasingly started to get attracted to her. But is he merely a bee attracted by the fragrance of the blooming flower? Or his love is as pure as pure as driven snow?
Where the destiny will take her? What the future beholds for her?
An absorbing historical novel glittered by historical facts well navigated by the writer- is how I would love to express it. But suddenly I realised I am forgetting about the plot-which will attract readers as magnet.
And there is no denying the fact that it is one of the period novels where the writer has done justice to the characters-they are so real yet so fictional!
Read the review of the prequel at