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huma_xceptionHAMIDA AND HUMAYUN spend an idyllic season with each other. But Humayun hasn’t forgotten business. He already knows he isn’t returning to his brother’s encampment. It appears Hindal hasn’t taken well to the alliance and he’s joined a hermitage in Kandahar. That Hindal should have taken it so badly, amuses his brother but Humayun sees he needs to quickly strike productive military alliances while people’s memory of him as king is still fresh. His brothers are out of the question and a waste of time. He is back to field action in a matter of months.


After a brief idyll, the couple must wander the deserts. Image: 18th C painting showing man and woman with hawk (British Museum)

It quickly becomes clear he is on the back foot, beseiged in every direction. Before long, in the company of Hamida, his retinue and a fast depleting body of troops, Humayun roams the deserts, trying his luck with any governor that may receive them kindly. They turn to Marwar but it turns out to be a trap – its Raja is in cahoots with Sher Shah. They quickly move to Jaisalmer which has hinted at a sympathetic reception. This too proves to be a set up. Betrayed, rejected and hunted into wandering the desert flats, Humayun is at rock bottom. Desertions have turned into a flood. A heavily pregnant Hamida stoically endures the hardships. They go for days without water and the travel-worn brigade are on their last legs when they throw caution to the winds and land at the fort of Amarkot without any indication of how they may be received.

To their relief, they are greeted with open arms by the Rana of Umerkot. In a cool Audience Hall, they are served sliced melons and iced sherbets in engraved goblets. They are welcome to stay at Umerkot for as long as they like. This is a great turn for Humayun and to make things better, it is here that he reunites with his long trusted advisor Bairam Khan. But the best news is yet to come: the birth of a son, the first Hindustan-born Crown Prince from the House of Timur.