WHETHER THE PRAYER WAS OVERHEARD OR NOT, that pot of unripe mangoes was certainly gifted by someone with a taste for action – Daulat Khan Lodi, subedar/governor of Lahore. He along with other malcontents under and around the Sultanate, have called time on Delhi’s reigning Sultan, Ibrahim Lodi. Babur is the power centre to back. Riding on the support of allies and a string of successes, he arrives with unstoppable momentum from across the mountains.
Babur’s army is lighter than the resident heavyweight’s. Their superior, pioneering field tactics and artillery outlast the lumbering, outmoded defenders at Panipat. Ibrahim Lodi falls in battle, his family is given refuge. Babur finally takes over the reins of Delhi. He settles into his new environs.
You’d think all this would put Babur in high spirits. Instead homesickness and melancholia take hold. Long nature walks prove a relief. There are novel trees, flowers, mammals and birds to note. And fruits and vegetables he hasn’t seen before. Always one for discovering new tastes, he has a few of the deposed Sultan’s cooks stay back in the new court and dish out some entertaining local preparations. Little does he know that this leaves the kitchen open to an unsavoury subterfuge that will find its way to his plate.
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