Biti Kahani: Autobiography of Princess Shahr Bano Begam of Pataudi

Hardcover | March 2, 2012

byTahira Aftab

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This book is based upon my edited English translation of a manuscript, written in Urdu by Shahr Bano Begam, daughter of Nawwab Akbar Ali Khan (1813-1862), of Pataudi and daughter-in-law of Nawwab Abdur Rahman Khan of Jhajjar. The Begum wrote her life story, Biti Kahani, in 1885, and two yearslater, in 1887, added a short introduction to it, which makes the writing the first autobiographical work by a Muslim woman of South Asia as well as one of the earliest autobiographies in Urdu literature. This story is not just a personal narrative; it is a complete, comprehensive, and tragicallyfascinating account, documenting for the first time the life of South Asian women during and after the tumultuous events of 1857. Indeed this narrative's contribution to the 'mutiny' historiography is unique as thus far this is the only piece of writing that vividly paints its effects on the livesof the Indians. This small but highly fascinating writing of Shahr Bano deepens our understanding of many other facets of history that usually remain hidden in works by male historians. Nineteenth- century South Asian scholarship produced commendable works providing significant insight on mattersconnected with the ultimate loss of political autonomy. The majority of these works, however, portray an incomplete image of the society, as they remain limited to 'public space' only. Shahr Bano, despite being a pardah-observing woman, in a highly fascinating manner connects the 'public' to the'private' space, and thus presents a document of immense historical significance. What is more surprising than the art of story-telling in a simple, easy-to understand style is that Shahr Bano, a novice in the art of writing, handles her pen with superb dexterity and displays the craft of ahistorian with precision and objectivity.

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From the Publisher

This book is based upon my edited English translation of a manuscript, written in Urdu by Shahr Bano Begam, daughter of Nawwab Akbar Ali Khan (1813-1862), of Pataudi and daughter-in-law of Nawwab Abdur Rahman Khan of Jhajjar. The Begum wrote her life story, Biti Kahani, in 1885, and two yearslater, in 1887, added a short introduction t...

Tahera Aftab, Ph. D in History, University of Karachi, is Professor of History and Founding Director of Women's Studies (Retd.) at the University of Karachi. Her recent publication is Inscribing South Asian Muslim Women-An Annotated Bibliography andResearch Guide. (Brill Publishers, Leiden, 2008).She is the editor and publisher of Pak...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:350 pagesPublished:March 2, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199060126

ISBN - 13:9780199060122

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsTransliterationMapsList of IllustrationsFacsimile of Shahr Bano Begam's ManuscriptTimeline of Shahr Bano Begam's LifeIntroductionTranslation of the ManuscriptDibachah (Preamble)The Reason for Writing this Book1. A. Beginning of the Biti Kahani1. History of my birth2. Arrival of the Chieftain of Jhajjar3. My Engagement Confirmed4. The Begams began winking and nodding to each other5. Betrothal Ceremony6. Description of the Wedding7. Arrival of the wedding party in Pataudi8. The Bride goes to watch the arrival of sachaq9. The Date of the Nikah10. The Departure of the Barat11. Arrival of the Barat at JhajjarB. The Narrative of the Mutiny, 1273AH /1857 CE.1. Reports about Mutiny at Delhi2. The Narrative of Pataudi's Ruination3. Massacre of the Rebels4. Condition of the State's Army5. Narration of Women's Ruination6. Arrival of women at Jhajjar7. Condition of Pataudi8. News of Delhi's Victory9. The Arrest of Chief of Jhajjar10. My Mother-in-law's letter addressed to my FatherC. Narrative of Journey to Ludhiana1. Departure for Jhajjar2. From Jhajjar to Ludhiana3. Arrival of the Caravan at Ludhiana4. Mother-in-law's Unjust Displeasure5. One Co-wife counsels the other Co-wife6. Altercation between my Didda and the Mother-in-law7. Ustaniji advises me8. Arrival of My Father's Letter addressed to my Mother-in-law and my Departure for Pataudi9. From Ludhiana to Pataudi10. Arrival of my elder brother for my welcome11. From Pataudi to Ludhiana12. Mother-in-law-Daughter-in-law Altercation13. Marriage of my Brother Ja'far 'Ale Khan14. From Ludhiana to Pataudi15. My Father's illness and his death16. Dadi Amman's wailing makes me swoon2. A. A Short History of the House of Pataudi1. Origin of the family's name2. Account of Shaikh Lala Hasan Pir Matha3. Account of Shaikh Lala Hasan's Demise4. Account of Shaikh Mustafa5. Thabit Khan's story6. A narrative of Shaikh Jamal and Ishaq Khan7. Mansur Khan's story8. Daulat Khan's narrative9. Description of Badal Khan10. Story of Alaf Khan11. Narration of Ghulam Rasul Khan and his descendantsB. Account of the State of Pataudi1. Narration of Faid Talab Khan's and Najabat 'Ali Khan's Affairs2. Narration of the award of jagir3. Friendship between Faid Talab Khan and Najabat 'Ali Khan4. Second Marriage of Faid Talab Khan and the birth of Nawwab Muhammad Akbar 'Ali Khan5. Passing away of Najabat 'Ali Khan and separation of Faid Talab Khan6. An account of the habits and demise of Faid Talab Khan7. Account of the nature of Nawwab Muhammad Akbar 'Ali Khan8. Account of the sons9. Account of the daughters10. Account of the wives11. Account of the sons' children12. Account of the children of the daughters13. Accession and death of Nawwab Muhammad Taqi Khan14. Accession of Mukhtar Hussain Khan15. Dismissal of Asghar 'Ali Khan and appointment of Safdar Hussain Khan as manager16. Appointment of Maulawi Husam-uddin as the manager: The Chieftain turns vagrant and profligate17. Appointment of Oliver Sahib as the Agent and the wedding of Husn Mahal18. Grand mother's demise19. Appointment of Mammu Khan as Guardian-tutor and than his dismissal20. Employment of Pandit Kishan Lal Sahib21. Grant of Authority to Nawwab Mukhtar Hussain Khan and his death22. Account of the children of Nawwab Mukhtar Hussain Khan23. Appointment of Pandit Kishan Lal as the Manager of the State3. A. Completion of My Story1. Arrival of the Begmas at Delhi after getting annoyed with Asghar 'Ali Khan2. My mother-in-law's illness and my departure for Ludhiana3. Mother's sickness, her sending for me, and mother-in-law's refusal to send me4. The arrival of Mother in Ludhiana and my departure with her5. My arrival in Ludhiana and my pregnancy6. A dispute between my husband and my mother-in-law7. Separation from the Mother-in-law and falling of my husband in bad company8. My Mother-in-law took me to her home and the birth of my first daughter9. I was chagrined as my mother didn't bring the chatti10. Death of my mother-in-law11. Husband's profligacy and squandering away of wealth12. I sought advice of Mirza Ayyub Baig13. Arrival of my husband's letter addressed to my mother14. Mother's reply15. Arrival of Hakim Agha 'Ali Khan, my departure for Ludhiana and seeing there the ruination of my home and seeing there the ruination of my home16. My arrival in Ludhiana and grieving at the sight of my house17. Loan mounts18. Birth of the second daughter and her death19. My arrival in Delhi, birth of a daughter and the death of the daughters20. My mother accompanies me to Ludhiana and returns to Delhi after showing ill-temper21. My return to Ludhiana and my mother's departure for Pataudi22. My mother demands money23. Mirza Ayyub Baig's advice and his buying of horses24. Mirza Ayyub Baig brings home money after selling the horses and settles the loans25. My arrival in Pataudi, the birth of a son and his death26. Birth of Ahmed 'Ali Khan27. Husband's illness and the ruination of my house28. Assault of the creditors and the bad treatment by the in-laws29. My mother's indifference30. I called Mirza Ayyub Baig and expressed my helplessness31. Mirza Ayyub Baig helps me and gets my pension fixed32. My departure, along with my mother, for Delhi and the circumcision of Ahmed 'Ali Khan33. I fell ill again, and my mother fetched me to Delhi from Ludhiana34. The doctor's certificate and my arrival in Delhi35. Advised to live in Delhi but my request was denied36. Description of the approval of transfer37. The Doctor Sahib wrote the letter and the transfer was approved39. Ahmed 'Ali Khan fell ill and died subsequently40. A complaint of this world41. Prosecution by Ahmed 'Ali Khan's widow and fixation of her stipend42. My departure for Pataudi, nikah of Ahmadi, my forced participation in it, and my mother's meetings with my enemies43. Narration about Ahmadi and her husband44. Mother slanders me45. The grand mother of the current Ra'is calls me and mother gets angry46. Mother gets angry and gets my stipend discontinued47. Communication with Sahib Commissioner Bahadur and the restoration of the stipend money48. Mother's coming to Ludhiana to the house of sister, Zuhra Begam49. Mirza Ayyub Baig came to know of my mother's motives50. Arrival of Miss Thorn Sahibah and my meeting with Miss Fletcher Sahibah51. My mother's sends me a letter asking me to visit her. I declined52. Thanks to Mirza Ayyub Baig and the end of Biti KahaniGlossaryIndexBibliography