The Royal Scandal

The Royal Scandal

Badalta waqt kisi ke ankh mein jo ata hai

Tamamam umr wo ansoon bahut roolata hai – Waseem Barelvi

For love speaks no language and sees no colour. It afflicts everyone with equal ardour, and no one can escape it, however much they try.

Rrashima Swarup Verma’s second book, a historical non-fiction, lifts the purdah from the love story of James Achilles Kirkpatrick and royalty, Khair-un-Nissa.

From the moment he chanced upon his Achilles’ heel: a teenage Khair-un-Nissa, it was game over for James. With only Khair-un-Nissa’s mother, Sharaf-un-Nissa, supporting their ill-fated relationship, the chequered love story of James and Nissa made waves in the palace and the East India Company. Opposed because of political and religious reasons, the duo was ordered to stay apart.

But when has love ever followed anything but the diktats of the heart? James and Khair-un-Nissa, amidst all possible known objections, get married, and have a boy and a girl. Eventually the siblings are sent to England to assimilate the culture and embraced into the folds of the English society even though their father, James, dresses (at home) in kurta pyjamas and eats the local food!

This book throws light on the research that Rrashima has put in to bring the 18th century havelis, attire, food, cuisine, mannerisms, and people to life. In addition to the opulence of the bygone times, Rrashima carefully weaves the threads of womanhood, exploring the relationship that Khair-un-Nissa shares with her only ally, her mother, Sharaf-un-Nissa.

With Rrashima’s return to her forte, romance, The Royal Scandal, is a book tailormade for history buffs (Like me!) who tend towards romance, a smattering of politics, mind games, war, royalty, and betrayal amongst others.

Highly recommended.