“I came alone and I go as a stranger. I don’t know who I am, nor what I have been doing.”
Azam listened. He knew his father, Aurangzeb the Great, was blabbering on his deathbed. Everybody blabbers on the deathbed. Everybody blabbers in old age.
“I conquered. I defeated. For what?” Aurangzeb continued holding on to Azam’s hand. Azam was the legal heir. But in a family with six official wives and their sons. Forget the daughters, they are born to be wives and son-bearers. Sons fight. Sons make the rules. Sons conquer and rule.
My father is dying, realised Azam. All my siblings will fight for the throne.
Fighting is all that they had learnt. Is there nothing more than fighting that life can offer? Aurangzeb asked himself lying on his deathbed.
Too late to learn lessons. It’s only when you lie down helplessly, unable to fight, unable to put on the armour, you realise the futility of all.
How many temples did I demolish? How many people did I kill? All for the sake of conquering some land. And what did I gain?
I ruled. I ruled almost the whole of what can be called India. What did I gain?
I’m sick and dying.
You must die, thought Azam. I should get the power. You die and I become the next emperor.
No, my son. The larger the empire, the more the enemies. Keep your ambitions low. The crown, the country, and the glory. They mean nothing.
You are dying, old man. Die. Die in peace.
The Empire is dying, my son.
I’m the Empire, responded Azam. People are fools. Any fool with ambition and heartlessness can be a ruler. And I am not a fool. At least I know how to kill. At least how to conquer the gods of the others.
Nobody knew better how to conquer the gods of others than Aurangzeb. He knew it was his time to die.