Study Guide

Beneath a Marble Sky Chapter 6

By John Shors

Chapter 6

The Truth of Dreams

  • Some time has passed since Mother died, but things are still pretty bleak.
  • Aurangzeb is in control of the military, and to no one's surprise, he's picking fights with everyone.
  • Dara is stuck dealing with the nobles, which is no easy task.
  • And Jahanara will be the one to help the Emperor build a mausoleum to honor her mother.
  • Father is a total wreck. Like, he forgets to bathe or change his clothes.
  • The Emperor summons Ustad Isa, a master architect. He's the artist he's selected to build the Rauza-i Munavvara, the Tomb of Light.
  • The Emperor will give Isa all the men, materials, and time he requires, just like that. And he wants the thing to be built out of white marble so that it will stand out against the prevalent sandstone. He wants it to be the most beautiful thing ever built. No problemo.
  • The Emperor also insists that Jahanara be the one to work closely with Isa, as a model of her mother's beauty—and also because she's "clever as a crocodile in a waterhole."
  • In a moment of unguarded grief, Jahanara's father refers to Mother as "Mumtaz Mahal," which was a private endearment that means "Chosen of the Palace."
  • Jahanara is psyched about her new job, mainly because this means she will have to live in the Red Fort, away from cruel Khondamir.
  • Days later, Jahanara sees Isa again when they've both gone to survey the future site of the mausoleum. The two engage in some verbal sparring:
  • "Ooh, you're so impatient!"
  • "Yeah, well, you're, like, good at your job, but too slow."
  • "I like you."
  • "I like you, too."
  • "Let's just secretly like each other and not do anything about it."
  • "Okay."
  • Jahanara and Isa discuss their grand plans for the mausoleum.
  • Isa asks Jahanara to return to the site later that evening so that he can show her something under the moonlight. *snicker*
  • Jahanara goes straight to Ladli for some girl talk.
  • Jahanara and Ladli watch some soldiers practicing in a courtyard, and they see Aurangzeb with his new rapist-slash-sociopath bodyguard, Balkhi.
  • Ladli is concerned that Aurangzeb has been paying special attention to her. She's hot, after all.
  • Sensing an opportunity, Jahanara asks if Ladli would be willing to earn Aurangzeb's trust as a sort of spy. Ladli's all, "Ew, no"—but then she agrees for Jahanara's sake.
  • Jahanara, Dara, and their father all eat dinner together in the library. Two things: 1) what they're having sounds delicious, and 2) everyone knows you can't eat in the library (#nerdrage).
  • When Jahanara goes back to the site for her moonlit rendezvous, Isa is ecstatically sketching his vision for the mausoleum in white chalk.