Study Guide

Beneath a Marble Sky Chapter 24

By John Shors

Chapter 24

Passages

  • Jahanara fasts to the point of starvation and lets herself get ragged and filthy. Now both she and her father are ailing—Jahanara only to keep up appearances, her father because he wants to finally join Mother in Paradise.
  • As they wither away together, the bond between Jahanara and her father grows exponentially.
  • Father makes Jahanara promise that when he's gone, she'll free Akbar, their pet hawk, and go to live as a child would, carefree by the sea.
  • That night, Jahanara's father dies. Hindustan goes into mourning as news of his death spreads.
  • Aurangzeb magnanimously arranges for a public funeral to be held at the Taj Mahal. Keen political move, bro-ski.
  • Aurangzeb sends Jahanara to the harem in the Red Fort so that the women can clean her up before she shows up at the funeral.
  • Once she's in the harem, Jahanara is close to total despair, until the women around her start plotting ways to help her escape.
  • The women want to free Jahanara because they were all, in their own ways, saved by her mother.
  • The women do clean Jahanara up, but then they place her on a litter carried by a eunuch, who puts a sack of decaying flesh between her feet and then covers her with a nasty carpet. (Good thing that bag of decaying flesh was handy. What, was it just lying around, waiting to be useful?)
  • When they all reach the guards, the eunuch tells them that they're just carrying out a leprosy-ridden corpse, and the smell at Jahanara's feet is enough to convince the guards.
  • The women in the harem are all going to spread different stories about Jahanara's escape so that Aurangzeb will never know the truth. Clever.
  • Jahanara is delivered to the boat of a trusted trader who promises to take her south to Calcutta.
  • The journey is mostly uneventful, though Jahanara is wracked with doubt and anxiety that her plan might have failed.
  • Jahanara reaches Calcutta and seeks out the greatest mosque. Then she sits and waits.
  • Finally, Isa arrives.
  • Isa takes Jahanara to where everyone has been happily living by the sea.
  • Nizam and Ladli are together, as Jahanara had predicted.
  • They're all finally free.