That evening Shiv broached the subject with Amma. To his surprise, Amma had heard about it.
‘A vague rumour,’ she said. ‘My father said that one of the daughters of the king eloped with an English man. Some say that the king prohibited anyone to even utter her name.’
‘Sounds filmy,’ Shiv mused.
‘Yes. But from what I heard from my grandmother, Raja Bhanu Pratap married her to a British officer so that his grandchildren would inherit Navgarh. Poor king, he had no son. And the East India Company was hell bent on taking over Navgarh.’
‘And as a young girl, the princess couldn’t do much.’ Shiv thought about the girl caught in the centre of the fight.
‘She could. It’s not as if there never were women rulers in India. But the conditions must have been different. The East India Company was using any pretext to take over the kingdoms. In Navgarh, probably the ruse was the absence of a male heir.’
It was the same all over India in the years preceding 1857. The East India Company was annexing the kingdoms. From inheritance to governance, everything served as an excuse. Their arrogance increased with each acquisition and so did the discontent of the populace. It had reached its climax in 1857.
‘What do you think, Amma? Shiv asked as they had their breakfast. ‘Did the princess elope or did she marry according to the king’s wish?’
‘Who knows?’ Amma raised her eyebrows. ‘Why do you think it was politics? They might’ve been in love.’
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