Jaaguzannama: the rise of the Ducula Aenea
|(main) characters||List of characters|
|Timeframe||1704 - 1709 AN|
Jaaguzannama: the rise of the Ducula Aenea is the first part in the story series Jaaguzannama. This Book of Jaaguzan is the official chronicle of the government of Jaaguzan. It contains various stories surrounding the Shahanshah, the second ruler of Çakaristan.
The subtitle "The Rising of the Ducula Aenea" refers to Hakim's ascension to the throne. Hakim is represented as Ducula aenea, the green imperial pigeon. Green because of the Çakari green colour, which was introduced on the flag and other national symbols. Imperial, because of his new position and his descent from emperors. Pigeon, because of the symbol for the House of Vinandy and peace (Arboric: سلام - salam).
Line in the sand
In Agra, the first reports of unrest on the south-western border were worrying. Jaaguzan ordered extra vigilance, so the army assembled more troops in the region and more patrol flights were carried out. In addition, the Apollonian Association of Refugees was asked to be on standby in case of further escalation. The media did report on the Sri Alban War, as well as the additional measures. The government press officer indicated in reassuring words that no immediate threat was to be expected.
Meanwhile, a caravan of dromedaries crossed the border from Sikatadesh. The border there is marked by stone posts. However, because of sand drifts, the poles are not always visible. It is for this reason that border crossings are often handled quite flexibly, except when tens of kilometres have been crossed. The border guard is therefore equipped with dune buggies, helicopters and all-terrain vehicles. The caravan of dromedaries was quickly spotted and a Border Guard unit sent in. The leader of the caravan spoke in Adarani, although with a strong accent, he said, "We are here to speak to the Shahanshah". The commander of the unit laughed a little and replied, "That's not possible, who are you and why do you want to speak to our Shahanshah?"
After this initial contact, the caravan appeared serious about wanting to speak to the Shahanshah. The commander called his superior, after which another series of phone calls were made. Finally, the communications officer in the Air Çakar One was called, who relayed the request to the Shahanshah. He ordered that the planned return flight to Agra be aborted and flown to Kalaghar. There, an army tent had been fleetingly set up for the Shahanshah and his guests. The Prince of Sikadesh had lent his security vans so that the Shahanshah could be taken from the airport to the meeting place. Jaaguzan made a note to make his transport service suitable for this kind of change of plans.
Jaaguzan arrived at the meeting place and not much later his guests arrived. The men bowed deeply before the Shahanshah. When they stood up again, Jaaguzan nodded, upon which the leader of the group began to speak. "O high honoured majesty, great ruler, may you reign forever! Our thanks are great that you wish to receive your humble servants. For we are not worthy to kiss your shoes. Therefore our hearts jump for joy that you tolerate us before your eyes. May we therefore present you with our issue, so that in your wisdom you may guide your humble servants. We are a people, a forgotten people, living in the desert. Our families and animals live in harmony with the land where we pitch our tents. We are a forgotten people because we have not been ruled over since 1582 AN. Our last ruler was Antica. We are rightly called 'tartar', a reference to our land. After all, our land is seen as a place of torment and suffering. In the last days a fear has been added, from which we hope you can deliver us, O great ruler."
Jaaguzan listened attentively and was curious to hear what would happen next. The speaker continued: "It is not that our country or our people wish to be dominated, but we feel that dominance is inevitable. We are not sufficiently organised to declare a state for ourselves. There are three nation states around our country that can dominate us. 1) Kildare, now to the west of us, previously also to the south of us. We do not expect any expansion from Kildare. 2) Floria, which calls the whole of Green Mesoun. Only the Antican Mesoun lay south of Tataria, which was previously known under the Crandish banner as North Tartary. 3) And your empire, the Çakar Empire, if we are to be dominated, please under your leadership. Not as a last choice, but from the conviction that your leadership is the best choice for our people."
The speaker tried to read off a reaction from the Shahanshah, but Jaaguzan continued to listen thoughtfully. So the speaker began his conclusion, "The fear of which I spoke, O great ruler, is in the recent developments. In Mesoun, the tribes or factions have taken up arms against Floria and started the so-called Sri Alban War. It is to be expected that Floria will invade the Green. We do not know what the plans will be if we too are hemmed in. But while it is still Green, we do not wish to be involved in a conflict of another people. May we therefore ask you to rule over us." It became silent for several moments, until Jaaguzan broke that silence. "Your considerations are wise, your request is reasonable, your devotion to your people is admirable. Although I have not been a Shahanshah for long, I have read about your people. I have great respect for your culture and stateless survival. There is no justifiable reason to reject your request. The way you will be governed, that remains to be discussed. We expect that with wise considerations, as you have just shown us, we will be able to give a good interpretation of this."
Warm welcoming gifts
After the party with the Shahanshah arrived at the appointed place, Jaaguzan was very impressed by what he saw. On the south-east coast lay a vast complex. A fortified palace the size of a small city. Several courts formed a labyrinth of buildings interspersed with gardens. One garden was symmetrically laid out with paths, fountains and ornamental flowers, while another was more park-like.
The fact that the complex looks like a small city is not surprising because of its history. In the distant past, there was a town on this site. The wall surrounding the complex was the old city wall, now restored. The gates in the ring wall were not all restored to their former glory. One of the gates has been rebuilt, only the one at the point of passage has been bricked up. At another gate, none of the old passages can be seen and the gate has been rebuilt as a high tower. The main gate is a clearly later construction with two towers and a prominent place for a flag. It leads to the Court of Meeting. A large square surrounded by a colonnade with a raised platform directly opposite the main gate. Another large gate of the adjacent building. This building forms a link between service buildings on one side and a shielded second court. The service buildings contain all kinds of functions, such as kitchens, storage rooms, stables, hospital and staff sleeping quarters.
The shielded court is luxuriously furnished, with all kinds of flats, a bathhouse and other luxurious facilities. Next to this court is a complex of smaller rooms where security personnel can be housed. There is also an inner courtyard here, where exercises can be carried out. A corridor leads from the shielded court to the main court. If possible, this court is even more luxuriously furnished. An elaborate flat with its own courtyard garden, balcony and bathhouse. Immediately adjacent are audience halls, meeting rooms and a treasure house.
Jaaguzan was very impressed after having had a guided tour. The representatives had gathered in the large square. One of the representatives came forward, while Jaaguzan sat on a throne on the elevation. "Your Majesty. By Craitgod, may the Shahanshah reign forever", the others replied with "Āmīn". The representative continued, "This palace was built by wealthy Thracians who hoped that the later Thracistan would become a sultanate. Much has been invested to give this palace the allure of a worthy ruler. Today we welcome you as ruler of these islands. We want to give you this palace." Jaaguzan was surprised and for a moment did not know how to respond. "What could I say but thank you," he replied. Jaaguzan was moved by this gift, after which he continued: "With this gift, you bear witness to your national character. Generous and hospitable."
The representative bowed gratefully and said: "Your Majesty, the peace you brought has warmed our hearts. We are proud to belong to your kingdom. Outside the walls of this palace, your new loyal subjects will build a city. We ask your permission that this new city may be named after you." Jaaguzan was surprised again and nodded in agreement, "If that is the least of it to lend my name, I will gladly do so." "Your Majesty, our thanks are great. This city will be called Jaaguzanbul." "So it shall be."
"Your Majesty, we wish to give you one more gift," the representative continued. Jaaguzan gestured invitingly. "In our language your formal title cannot be translated, we wish to address you with a title that is pronounceable to us. Therefore, we would like to give you the title 'Qaysar'." Jaaguzan replied, "My wish is to be under my authority for all, the least then is that all my loyal subjects can address me. Thank you for this title."
The meeting continued with discussions on the statehood of the Kantisha and Northak Islands. A flag, a government and an amendment to the Akbar Constitution. The latter regulates representation in the Çakari Congress.
Question of succession
The Majlis al-Shuwraa met at the Red Fort in Agra. The members were already busy debating before the Shahanshah arrived. Then the doors swung up and the announcement sounded, "Behold, the Shahanshah!" The members stood up and silently bowed their heads. Jaaguzan entered and said, "Your Highnesses, your Excellencies." He took his seat on the throne, whereupon the members sat down. The Ataliq began to speak and said, "By Craitgod, may the Shahanshah reign forever", the others answering with "Āmīn!". "We intend to advise the Majlis al-Nuwaab on the submitted land ownership law. The law embraces that only loyal subjects of your majesty may own land. Foreigners or foreign companies may not own land, only lease it. We intend to advise the Majlis al-Nuwaab to add an article regulating that the State Bank of Çakaristan can purchase land on behalf of foreign companies to lease out." Jaaguzan nodded in agreement. Then the Ataliq looked at the other members and there was no one to add or subtract anything. "So be it," the Ataliq concluded.
"Your majesty, may you forgive us if we wish to bring this to your attention." Jaaguzan frowned but let the Ataliq continue talking. "When our nation came into being, we faced a succession problem almost immediately. Our Sultan, the late Akbar, in blessed memory, was shot down and was unable to rule for a while. This was solved at the time by the appointment of a Grand Vizier. Unfortunately, the late Akbar, then Tobu Emperor, was shot again and this time fatally. The lack of a constitution caused a vacuum without a clear guideline. Your readiness for the throne has stabilised us once again. But, your majesty, forgive us. What should we do if you can no longer rule us? The succession is uncertain."
Jaaguzan was displeased with this matter and actually wanted to get very angry. To become furious. But held back. He remembered the words of his twin sister who also referred to the fact that he was still single. Farhan, his brother, was also in the council and was the official representative on behalf of the House of Alsalam. Jaaguzan knew that if anything happened to him, Farhan would have to succeed him. Where he could still choose, Farhan would have no choice. Hrithik Çakar is still too young.
"What can I say, I haven't found a suitable woman yet," said Jaaguzan, knowing that this was not a solution, more like an excuse. He saw the nervousness in the members. "Your majesty, may I present you with a proposal," said the representative of Valesia. Jaaguzan gestured invitingly. "It is not unusual in royal houses for rulers to have concubines, who at least provide the ruler with offspring." Other representatives were not happy with this proposal and began to protest. The Ataliq intervened and ordered silence. When peace had returned, attention was on the Shahanshah. But he was staring at the floor. The representative of Korhalistan began to speak cautiously: "Your majesty, my colleague's proposal may not fit into your ideal image. It should only help you to take the pressure off succession."
Jaaguzan still did not react. The representative of Haritdesh brought in: "Your majesty, this council is not unanimous on this proposal. Article 3.2 of the Constitution talks about legitimate marriage. Can a relationship with a concubine be considered legitimate marriage?" The representative of Valesia defended, "Concubines can also have a contract, which is equivalent to a marriage." Jaaguzan raised his hand, after which everyone fell silent. "Your Highnesses, I understand what you want to accomplish with your proposal. I want to know whether this proposal is supported by the majority. But no embarrassment, so there will be an anonymous vote." The meeting was interrupted, with the Shahanshah withdrawing for a moment. He leaned on his desk, sighing in thought about this proposal. He understood it, but didn't really want to.
A servant came in and said: "Your majesty, the result is known." The Shahanshah waited for a moment, before returning to the hall. The Ataliq read out the result: "This council has voted in favour of the proposal by a majority." Tense, the members looked at Jaaguzan. He kept his face tight and only nodded to the Ataliq. He said, "So be it". Jaaguzan stood up, quickly the members also stood up. He left the hall. The Ataliq said, after the Shahanshah had left, "That is all for today. We will deal with the rest of the points next time."
That evening, Atiya had a family dinner prepared. All the sisters and brother of the Shahanshah were present. They knew about the decision in the Majlis al-Shuwraa and Atiya had prepared her sisters and brother that Jaaguzan was not happy with that decision. "Behold the Shahanshah!" The sisters made a curtsy and the brother bowed his head. Jaaguzan entered and made it clear with a hand gesture that the bodyguards and servants should leave the room. When the doors were closed, Jaaguzan said, "Let these formalities be suspended for tonight." A sigh of relief was noticeable. Then Jaaguzan greeted everyone personally. With hugs and cheek kisses, it became clear that the Fatima children have a strong bond.
Farhan said to his brother, "I am sorry about this afternoon". Hakim replied, "You don't have to take responsibility for it, especially now that the beer is warming up." The brothers laughed and Farhan quickly took some beer for his brother and him. They toasted and said, "Be ṣaḥtak" (for your health). Later that evening, Atiya looked around and did not see her twin brother. She got up and walked to the balcony and there stood Hakim. Next to a half-drunk pint of beer on the balcony railing stood her brother leaning in thought. She said, "How many pints have you had?" Hakim awoke from his thoughts and looked at the pulp, he replied, "This is the first one." This alarmed Atiya and said, "Are you sick? You are a great lover of beer, especially IPA. Are you alright?" "Ah," said Hakim, "it's that damn decision." Atiya approached her brother, who had now turned towards her. She could see that he was really going through with it. She put her hand on his cheek and said in a soft tone, "Shall I help you, if I can? I cannot take away the decision, I cannot take away the necessary intimacy. But the way in between, with that I can help you." Hakim remembered his mother, who when he was very small also comforted him with a hand on his cheek and a gentle tone. He calmed down and looked at his sister. "Yes, that's good." "Good," Atiya concluded. Hakim picked up the beer mug and took a swig. But the beer had already warmed up, flattened. Immediately Hakim spat the swig out from the balcony. Atiya had to laugh. Hakim said: "It is really undrinkable like that".
Atiya took the pulp and walked inside. She ran into her sister, Nur, who asked in a whisper, "And? Did you arrange it?" "Yes," Atiya replied, looking around timidly. In the following days, Atiya organised for pretty young ladies to come to the Red Fortress. From all princely states, governorates and subahs, all regions and from every ethnic group. Pretty young ladies were also brought from Barikalus and Batavia. Atiya divided them into groups, tested their knowledge about her brother, the family and the country. Some ladies could not speak Arboric or Adarani, so were given a crash course with an exam. They were served Hakim's favourite dishes to see if they liked them too. All the while, the ladies were closely watched. Atiya had extensive reports on each lady. Physicians also came to examine whether the ladies were still virgins. Any lady who failed was sent home. One evening, Atiya showed pictures of all the ladies to Hakim. He gave his first reaction, as a result of which some ladies were sent home. Atiya asked him, "Is there a lady among them who would seem to suit you?" Hakim shrugged his shoulders and finally said, "They are beautiful ladies, but I can't fall in love with them from a photo."
Yaequb Bunduq walked through the corridors of the Red Fortress and came to the guards at the door of the Shahanshah's private chamber. A servant bowed his head and walked to the second door. After knocking and letting the Shahanshah know that Yaequb had arrived, he returned and accompanied by a hand gesture said, "His majesty is ready to receive you." Yaequb then walked to the chamber. "Your Majesty, may you reign forever". "When are you going to unlearn these formalities?", responded Jaaguzan. "Never, for as long as I live I will honour you". "Oh well", Jaaguzan concluded.
"You know the decision of the Majlis al-Shuwraa, the Congress confirmed the decision. My sister has sent hundreds of ladies to the palace and is testing them. The other day, from the gatehouse, I saw some ladies leaving crying. They had obviously not passed the test. Tell me: is it strange that I feel uncomfortable with this whole situation?" Yaequb thought about it and said, "First of all, it is strange that others are concerned that you should have a wife, while they too are not married yet." Jaaguzan smiled at this realisation. Yaequb continued and said, "And of course it is not strange that you feel uncomfortable. Any man would say, 'You can legally do it with more than one woman, you can't be against that', but you were brought up with your father's morals. He emphasised devotion to one woman and warned his sons against polygamy. There is no chance of trouble, it is the recipe for trouble." Jaaguzan became emotional at the thought of his father, especially he recognised Yaequb's last words as a quote from his father.
"Thank you for reminding me of my father's lessons. You have served my father for so long. I wish he was still here, and my mother, of course. But will you finally tell me how you operated as a secret agent?" Yaequb replied, "Forgive me, but I would like to discuss something else with you first." "Surely not about politics?", Jaaguzan responded agitatedly. Yaequb did not allow himself to be distracted, "Do you expect me to issue the formal apology on behalf of Barikalus?" There was silence for a moment, after which Jaaguzan replied, "Yes, James Tazelaar, I expect that." Yaequb smiled and said, "As you wish, your majesty". The two men laughed and toasted with their beer.
Later that night, Yaequb said, "Hakim, if you want to outwit both the Majlis al-Shuwraa and your sister, find a suitable wife as soon as possible." Hakim looked at him sighing and replied, "It's not like you're going to bump into a woman like that just like that." "True," Yaequb interrupted him, "But I do have a candidate in mind who would suit you very well." Hakim asked, "What's her name? Do you have a picture?". Yaequb replied, "If you see her, you will see immediately that she is like the most beautiful flower roses."
Tell me, tell me
Tell me about Çakaristan
To get to know each other in a more relaxed way, Jaaguzan and Zahra had travelled to Batavia separately. The plan was to visit 's Koningenwaarde as ordinary tourists. Jaaguzan ran the risk of being recognised, but by dressing simply and wearing sunglasses he hoped not to be discovered. Zahra stayed with her sister in a luxury hotel, while Jaaguzan stayed in the Blanckenhof Palace. His uncle pretended his nephew was not visiting, precisely to avoid the press getting wind of it. Jaaguzan used his old alias to complete his disguise. Zahra left the hotel through a side exit, to an appointed place. Jaaguzan was waiting in a coffee house, fortunately not for long. Zahra arrived and together they drank a cup of coffee with a local morning roll. The initial excitement for this venture soon vanished, knowing that in disguise security guards would protect them. Of course, there was also the excitement about their meeting, as both wanted to see each other again.
"Despite the fact that you have to look ordinary, you are still stunning!" said Jaaguzan. Zahra was embarrassed by this compliment and looked nervously at the coffee in front of her. A few moments later, she looked cautiously at the man opposite her. She looked into his eyes and felt like melting. Jaaguzan sensed that they were both experiencing some tension and suggested that they go and explore the city. Zahra was a bit confused and asked Jaaguzan as she walked out: "You know this town, don't you? Then it's not exploring, is it?" "Ah yes," Jaaguzan replied, "I'm giving you a tour". Zahra laughed and let Jaaguzan tell them about the city. They walked past the Koninklijk Paleis, where the Batavian flag flies as a signal that the king is present. Then they came to the Cathedral, where many of Jaaguzan's ancestors are buried. Around the old centre is a park, a green belt. At a shop on the edge of the park, you can buy a complete picnic set. A blanket, a basket full of plates, glasses and cutlery. Fresh sandwiches, orange juice, a thermos flask of tea and so on. Jaaguzan and Zahra bought a set and walked into the park. Near a large oak tree, they took a seat on the grass.
"Tell me about Çakaristan?", Zahra asked. Jaaguzan thought for a moment and replied, "Where shall I start? Um... Well, Çakaristan is a wonderful composition of different cultures, united under one flag and monarch. It is not a nation-state where the culture is largely the same across the nation, where practically everyone speaks the same language or anything like that. It is a nation with a great diversity of cultures, ethnicities and languages. Its history alone is not uniform, most of present-day Çakaristan was once Antica, but for the rest part of it was once under the banner of Shireroth and Jingdao, another part under the banner of Krasnocoria and somewhat longer ago part under the banner of Babkha. All this is a bit of a stretch, deeper is this: the people are incredibly fascinating. In the south-west of continental Çakaristan you will find the most people, they live scattered over the countryside, relatively few in cities. Nevertheless, the cities in the south-west are the largest in the country. Most people in the south-west are Adarani, but there are minorities such as the Alukai, Leyl people and Sennari, remnants of larger peoples with their own nations. The funny thing is that the Sennari speak Arbors, just like the people in Barikalus and Sylfystan. In the far south you will find the most recent addition to the Empire. There live the Thaks, a remnant of the Thraci people. They speak Thraci, as do the Hasanis in Sylfystan. On Kantisha they speak Kantishi, a language closely related to Adarani. On the island of Duras, in Sri Pashana live the Ghuwati, who speak Samsrumukhat. This again is a language related to Adarani. Besides the similarities in language, there are also similarities in customs and traditions. The former Krasnarus was very diverse in population composition, multiple ethnicities, languages and cultures. From this point of view, it is strange that this country has merged with Coria. That country was much more uniform. Besides the fact that part of historic Coria is now part of Hurmu, a part of the Corians fled to present-day Kildare and Hurmu. This was partly for fear of revenge after the conquest of Coria by Çakaristan. After all, Çakaristan arose after a struggle for independence from Coria. Now I can tell you much more about the development, the economic aspects and the vision for the future. But then I would need a few more hours to tell you." Zahra nodded and said, "That's not necessary. About the Corians or Krasnocorians, was their fear of revenge unjustified?" "Yes," Jaaguzan replied, "except for the exile of the then king, there were no repercussions. Indeed, all citizens enjoy the same rights under the constitution and former Coria is now a princely state of Bulqan with a Corian prince."
The two lovebirds enjoyed the picnic and chatted more about each other so they got to know each other better. Then Jaaguzan took Zahra to the concert hall. There was no performance at that time, but there was a dress rehearsal of the Waarder Phillomonic Orchestra. As usual under the leadership of the current conductor, this rehearsal was as if the concert was taking place. Everyone was in costume and the programme was followed. Zahra almost thought that Jaaguzan was breaking into the building, because he opened a side door. Nevertheless, she walked behind him through the corridors until they entered the great hall. The lights were dimmed, so the people on the stage did not see that they had two spectators. Quite 'coincidentally', a song was recited that expressed the cultural flavour of Çakaristan:
|Translated in Common Tongue|
And still the snowy Monalan rise in ancient majesty before our eyes
Music: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Original (modern) English Lyrics: Johnny Mercer
Adapted lyrics: Gustaaf Vermeylen
Tell me, will you ...
Later that day, Jaaguzan took Zahra to a restaurant. That restaurant had a roof terrace with a picturesque view of the city, the river Linge and the sunset. That roof terrace was reserved only for the lovebirds. While one floor below, the restaurant was full of other guests both inside and on another balcony, they had the peace and yet the ambiance of a restaurant. They enjoyed a Batavian dinner with Dietsche wine. After the main course, they stood together at the railing to enjoy the view. Zahra visibly enjoyed the view, the delicious food and especially the attention this man paid to her. Yet she was surprised by what Jaaguzan did next. He had taken her hands and led her a step from the railing. Then he knelt before her and sat on one knee in front of her. When he looked at her, she understood what was coming. She began to get emotional as the words came out of her sweetheart's mouth.
"My dear Zahra, from the first moment I saw you I was overwhelmed by your beauty. Your voice sounded to me like a graceful orchestra. Your love for me surrounds me like a warm coat and fills me with a warm feeling. After this wonderful day, in which I enjoyed your presence very much. I would like to have you close to me. Now and for as long as I live. So tell me: will you marry me?" While her heart was beating wildly and internally making a dance of joy, she found peace in the questioning eyes of Jaaguzan. She said wholeheartedly, "Yes!" Jaaguzan stood up and they embraced each other. It was actually the first time they had been close, so for a moment they were shocked by their own spontaneity. They hesitated for a moment, then Jaaguzan saw the bubbly wine, grabbed it and handed Zahra a glass. They toasted and wished each other luck. After Jaaguzan had brought Zahra to the hotel, she discovered that her parents had arrived that day. Surprised, because she didn't know her parents were coming to Batavia. Jaaguzan, who had already organised it all, greeted them and invited them for the next morning.
The next morning Zahra and her parents were taken to Blanckenhof Palace. There they were received by Jaaguzan and the royal couple. Jaaguzan took Zahra by her hand and together they stood in front of the group. "It may already be known, but now it's official," Jaaguzan began, "Last night we got engaged." Everyone congratulated them. The Batavian king cleared his throat, "True to Babkhan tradition, on behalf of the groom's family, dear bride, may I present you with a gift." A silver ring with a deep blue diamond was offered to Zahra. "May you accept this ring as you accept Hakim as your husband," said Hendrik. She was very taken with the ring and thanked the king. Zahra looked gratefully into the eyes of her future husband.
In the next few days, the spouses-to-be will pick out wedding rings. In addition, Zahra will choose a complete set of jewellery. Hendrik suggested that the Baleh Borān be completed. Daniyal agreed and the whole company sat down. The men in particular spoke up and within hours a marriage contract was drawn up. Then Jaaguzan had a silver mirror and candlesticks brought. These richly decorated attributes, had elements of different styles, Arboric, Babkhan and Adarani. Zahra thanked Jaaguzan. With that, the Baleh Borān ceremony was complete and the wedding day was planned.
After Zahra and her family arrived in Çakaristan, Jaaguzan visited them. Jaaguzan welcomed them all and Zahra in particular. In front of everyone, Zahra paid respect to the Shahanshah by curtsy and said, "Your Majesty." Jaaguzan smiled and offered his hand, at which point Zahra rose again and raised her head. It was clear to those present that the two were in love.
A table had been set up in the embassy's garden, where all sorts of sweet treats had been provided. These included bāmiyeh (light doughnut balls), nān-e berenji (rice flour cookies), chocolates and ājil (nuts and dried fruit). Everyone wished the couple a very sweet marriage. This was the last time Jaaguzan and Zahra would see each other before the wedding day. For almost a week they would be separated.
The Hurmu Embassy was the temporary residence of the bride in Çakaristan. The guests were accommodated there and in nearby hotels. All kinds of preparations were made for the impending marriage all over the city of Agra. No hotel, inn or other accommodation was available for interested parties for miles around. As the big day approached, normal traffic was disrupted. Roads were closed, metro stations closed and air traffic diverted.
A few days before the big day, there was a ceremony called the Jahāz Barān (Babkhan: جهازبران). The Shahanshah's brother, Farhan, set off with friends from the Red Fortress to the Hurmu Embassy with great ceremonial display. In procession and to the accompaniment of drums, the white-clothed men danced.
Gifts from the bride's family were collected by the men and carried to the groom's house, the Red Fortress. Farhan handed over dried henna to the mother of the bride. Both the way there and back were a spectacle of music and dance. It drew a lot of attention.
On the day before the wedding, women gathered in the embassy. Roya, Zahra's elder sister, applied henna to Zahra's hand. After all, she was a woman whose parents were still alive and married. In Babkhan tradition, this is a sign of good fortune for the upcoming marriage. The other women sang Babkhan folk songs to complete Hanā Bandān (Henna Night).
The wedding day started early for Zahra. Accompanied by all kinds of rituals, she was prepared. Her wedding dress, jewellery and a tiara prepared her for the Shahanshah. When she was completely ready, it was time to leave. For one last time before becoming a wife, she greeted her parents and her siblings. Her father accompanied her to the open carriage. They took their seats together and the coachman waited for a signal from Zahra. She nodded and he took his place. The carriage left the embassy grounds. On the street in front of the embassy, the carriage was received by a ready parade. A guard of honour saluted and a military band began to play. The carriage entered and the whole parade left for the Red Fortress. Along the road, people stood enthusiastically waving and cheering. Zahra waved at the people. In awe, she saw the Red Fortress rising above the city.
The Red Fortress was richly decorated with flags and ribbons. The carriage stopped at the gatehouse, where the bride and her father were received by the Nawab ka Mahal (Lord of the Palace), Ayush Bajpeyi. Statelyly the Nawab walked ahead, just beside the green carpet. While the bride and her father walked along the green carpet across the bridge. The bridge railing was decorated with colourful flowers, which was picturesquely captured by the TV crew. The picture was completed by the flagpole, which was 130 metres high with the Çakari flag measuring 60 by 30 metres. The bride and her father walked in through the large gate. They came to a small courtyard, where today a small garden with palm trees has been laid out. The second gate was closed. Some ladies of the court were waiting for the bride. They made a curtsy to the bride and welcomed her. A bowl of red-coloured water was ready. She dipped her hand in it and placed it on the wall next to the gate. With this she marked that this house would become her home. Then the large gate doors opened.
Together with her father, the bride continued her entry into the Red Fortress. On either side of the green carpet stood twenty-four ladies with burning torches. Normally there are twelve ladies, but because of the position of her husband-to-be, the number of ladies had been doubled. As the bride approached, they all simultaneously made a slight bow, turned and accompanied the bride on her way. Cheerful music announced the arrival of the bride. After turning right, she saw her future husband standing at the end of the green carpet. She peered at him through her veil, her heart warmed at the sight of him. As the bride walked on, Astīr, the sister of Jaaguzan, heard an old woman say: "Oh great Craitgod, have mercy. This one will make peace a faint memory." Astīr became nervous at this and wanted to look back, but did not. Zahra and her father had arrived at Jaaguzan. The two men embraced, whispered to each other, and then Daniyal transferred his daughter's hand into Jaaguzan's hand. He bowed and stepped back. The marriage ceremony was performed. Before Jaaguzan pronounced his vows, he lifted the veil and Zahra's radiant face became fully visible. He smiled and pronounced his vow. Then Zahra spoke her vow. A golden cup of wine was offered, Jaaguzan took a sip and offered it to Zahra. She also took a sip. The sweet wine is a sign of a blood bond and hope for a sweet and fruitful marriage.
After the ceremony, the announcer called out: "Behold! His Majesty the Shahanshah and Her Majesty the Shahbanu!" Those present shouted, "Long live the Shahanshah, long live the Shahbanu!" and bowed their heads in respect. The bride and groom left the courtyard, the immediate family and friends followed. They waited in a hall, where the bride and groom made their entrance. On the table in the middle was the marriage contract. This marriage contract was read out loud, after which the couple and their witnesses signed the contract.
The master of ceremonies took the floor, congratulated the couple and bowed deeply. Then he invited them to come to another large room. The Sofreh Aghd (Babkhan: سفره عقد), that is the wedding table, was prepared. All kinds of delicacies, fruits and spices had been incorporated into all kinds of dishes. In front of the bride and groom was a large sweet bread, which was torn into pieces by the groom. As a symbol of his happiness at marriage, he shared the bread with his immediate family members. The bride received a double portion.
After the meal, the bride and groom were escorted to another room, where they took their seats on a bench. At the side, immediate family members took their places. All the guests came by to congratulate the couple. Gifts were collected on a table, which the bride and groom will open later. The evening was further filled with music and dance. A fireworks show concluded the evening. For the first time, the bride and groom were together without anyone else being present. Alone together. Zahra relaxed because Jaaguzan did not immediately make his advances. They chatted about the day, the special events and the conversations they had had. That passed smoothly into a night full of love and passion.