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huma_xceptionAN AMUSED HUMAYUN takes the frenzied ‘assistance’ over the Persian border in his stride. As for his overall impressions of the country, he can say it has points to recommend it. The Persians certainly know how to throw a good feast and he has noted points of service his Court would do well to pay heed to. He has a good mind to call over a few painters and writers of the Persian Court once he has settled back at his seat in Hindustan; they should be overwhelmed by the wealth of fascinating new subjects, both real and metaphysical.

As for getting back, it’s about time he picks up young Akbar who’s been under the care of his uncle Askari out at Kandahar for over a year. He finds the promised Persian garrison waiting for him at Sistan. Humayun hasn’t forgotten that Tahmasp has made him promise to capture Kandahar for Persia. Humayun takes Kandahar, nominally hands it to the Persians and then takes it back after eliminating the more aggressive of the Persian troops.

The child Akbar and his mother

Getting back his son, and in a few years, Delhi and Agra too. Image: From 16th C painting Akbar recognizes his Mother (The British Library Board)

From there, he is able to concentrate on his personal mission and looks to recover his son Akbar. Barely three years old, Akbar is already being eyed as bait by Akbar’s wily brother Kamran. Kamran even captures him at one point and lowers him from a fort wall during exchange of fire with Humayun’s forces. Humayun eventually gains Kabul, Akbar and the whole of Afghanistan, captures Kamran and blinds him once and for all. Significantly in the same year Humayun takes Kabul, his nemesis Sher Shah dies in a blast leaving behind a dissolute son and a fractured empire plagued by famine and epidemics.

It is only a matter of time before Humayun retakes Delhi and Agra, 15 years after he was ignominiously chased out by Sher Shah. His journey out of Persia into Delhi may seem straightforward, but it’s taken him a decade. Back in Delhi, he somehow feels like he’s never really left home.