The Royal Scandal: A Time Machine to Get Back to India of 1798
Author Name: Rrashima Swarupa Verma
Book Title: The Royal Scandal
(THE ROYAL SCANDAL – A love story that changed the power dynamics in British India)
Literary Agency: The Book Bakers
Publisher: Srishti Publishers and Distributors
If you want to land in the stormy days of the East India Company just 41 years after it won the Battle of Plassey, you don’t actually need a time machine as The Royal Scandal can act as a vehicle for that purpose.
Thanks to Rrashima Swarupa Verma’s just published novel The Royal Scandal, the war, bloodshed, tricky politics of the Royal Court, and deceit with Hyderabad of 1798 being the theatre has been mirrored most poignantly.
As you turn over the pages of the novel, what would come as a major surprise to you is the blooming of love between a Firangi officer and a Hyderabadi Muslim Noblewoman. This unlikely love had its own twists and turns.
Rrashima’s portrayal of those days of the 1798-Hyderabad and stormy love between Lieutenant Colonel James Achilles Kirkpatrick and the Noblewoman Khair-un-Nissa is exceptionally vivid.
A Royal Love Story You Never Heard Before
It is more so as this unlikely love story is based on some real facts concerning Kirkpatrick when he became the Resident of East India Company in Hyderabad Princely State ruled by the Nizam.
The literary craftsmanship of The Royal Scandal is worth a mention. Rrashima hued all contemporary aspects of East India Company’s Colony India, including the flourishing Sufi Culture, mysticism, poetry, dance, music, art and architecture even as war raged and the Kirkpatrick- Khair-un-Nissa lovebirds cooed.
This love, however, was unlikely as their religion, language, culture, and socio-economic background differed vastly. She was Desi Royal Princess. He was a Videsi Firangi not having Royal Blood.
Naturally, a Royal Love Scandal rocked the ruler Nizam’s Nizamat. It was quite natural as Kirkpatrick was a powerful man being the Resident of East India Company in Hyderabad. Beautiful Khair-un-Nissa was also a Princess.
Connecting Historical Dots
Rrashima, the book’s author, has analyzed the historical events in their right perspective.
The way she wove the storyline is really amazing. Weaving the story plot, Rrashima took up the psychological aspects like the inner conflicts of the Kirkpatrick-Khair-un-Nissa duo, and their desperation to unite in love with supreme mastery.
Another thing that we notice in this book is Rrashima’s depiction of the Colony India’s political fluidity of 1798 marked by conspiracies, Royal Court ruses, betrayal and fluctuations in the relationship between the Nizam as ruler of Hyderabad and near overlord-ship of the East India Company.
This further made the Kirkpatrick-Khair-un-Nissa love story more difficult.
From a critical angle, Rrashima’s success in the thematic representation of this very complex situation in the backdrop of contemporary colonial politics is praiseworthy.
It is more so as her characterization of Kirkpatrick and Khair-un-Nissa was perfectly poised.
The lover duo knew their unison was somewhat impossible due to wide gaps in their status.
What Happened Next?
It required immense courage for Khair-un-Nissa to come out of the interiors of her mansion or Zenana enclosure of the palace to stealthily meet Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick too risked his career as he was the East India Company’s Resident Bahadur in Nizam’s Hyderabad.
Ruler Nizam was very powerful. Naturally, he knew the love scandal would rock the entire Colony of India and may antagonize the Court of Directors of the Company in Calcutta.
But the Firangi officer risked. The Hyderabadi Princess also risked as she belonged to Nizam’s household.
The Climax And Conclusion
In fact, the relationship between the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1798 with the East India Company apparently was cordial but at its labyrinth, it was not exactly so. Naturally, Khair-un-Nissa falling in love with Kirkpatrick was not at all taken lightly by the household of Nizam.
Yet, Khair-un-Nissa revolted to get united with Kirkpatrick. This proves even in those days, some women really had the courage and they proved it by breaking the shackles of social status, Royalty, culture and religion.
Just as a master painter paints a scene, Rrashima vividly portrayed those stormy days of the Kampani Raj or East India Company’s rule in a vast land like Hindustan where hundreds of Princely States like Hyderabad dotted.
This is Rrashima’s second novel. Her earlier novel A Break In Love was critically acclaimed.