IT WOULD LATER BE CALLED VALENTINE’S DAY. But back in 1483, the residents of Andijan in Fergana, had been given their very own reason to celebrate February 14. In that city on that date, Babur was born to a family of no mean standing. Yet his legend has largely to do with what he made of himself, in spite of the burden of expectation.
He was son of the ruler of the Fergana Valley and his loaded pedigree (Timur on his father’s side, Genghis Khan on his mother’s) marked him out from the start. In Babur, the bloodlines couldn’t have found a more willing prince to act on double doses of an appetite for conquest. He would go above and beyond the call of duty and carve his own place in history.
Babur galloped across rolling plains on active missions almost as soon as he was crowned king at the age of 12. But we join Babur in his adulthood, at a quieter moment of contemplation. Ahead of his fifth expedition to Hindustan, he asks for an indisputable sign that this foray is destined. A gift with an undeniably Indian stamp – betel perhaps. Or a mango. Whether it was Providence or the arrangement of an officer itching for action, Babur duly receives a gift of half-ripened mangoes preserved in honey.
This if anything, was the sign. This conquest was written in the stars. Babur packs up for a fifth expedition to Hindustan.