Sultans of Thunder

The young princess could not sleep. When the effort to keep her eyelids closed seemed unbearable, she slipped out of her silk bedsheet and walked towards the bedroom window. Out in the distance, she could see her mother-in-law, the Shehzada’s mother, gazing at the still waters of the lake. The princess meant to go back before she were seen but before she could avert her gaze, Fatima Begum caught sight of her and beckoned her. The princess went down towards Fatima Begum.

“What is it princess that is keeping you up at this hour?” and a mischievous wrinkle appeared at the corner of her eye.

“No Ammi, the Shehzada is asleep.” said the princess and lowered her gaze demurely.

The mischievous wrinkle disappeared and moved above her eyebrows where it took the shape of concern.

Fatima Begum placed a gentle hand on the princess’ slender shoulder, nodded and said, “I understand princess. The Shehzada’s father also snores”.

Fatima Begum said, “Come princess, let us take a walk in the royal garden. Let me tell you the story of our ancestors. You know, we are surrounded by vast stretches of sands and mountains. It doesn’t rain for years and when it does, it rains to drown everything in sight.” and she led the princess down the royal garden.

Fatima Begum continued, “A hundred years ago, during such a storm, the ruler of our lands, the first Pathan king was struggling to get back to his castle after his victory at a faraway kingdom. It was a terrible storm. Lightning flashed until it blinded even the closed eye. Thunder bellowed until it burst the eardrum. It had rained for 7 days continuously and the skies showed no signs of relenting. It seemed like there was no escape for the king and his small remnant army that night as they labored across the cold desert. The weather had already taken its toll on the horses and camels. The army rode on nothing but their legs, fed by the raw will to survive.

Salim, one of the weakest soldiers in the army was too exhausted to walk any more.  The noble king would not abandon the weakened soldier. He refused to budge despite repeated pleas by his minsters to leave the weak soldier to his fate and move on. They asked him not to risk his life for the sake of a common soldier. The army didn’t have the provisions and the strength for another night in the open desert. They had to keep moving for any chance of survival. But, the noble king would not listen. He would not abandon his soldier.

Finally, the small band had no option but to set up camp under a palm tree. No one slept through the night. Not even the king. But, the simple soldier Salim was too tired. Not even the greatest thunderstorm of their generation could stop him from sleeping.

The king and his folk watched through the night as Salim slept. Like a peaceful oasis in a world of chaos, he slept through the storm. It was the first time they noticed that he snored. They noticed that his snoring matched the claps of thunder. No matter how fiercely the thunder rang, Salim fought back with his sublime snoring. For every forceful push from the skies, there was a gentle exhale from Salim’s lips. They noticed that the rain began to take mercy. The skies had to relent as they failed to break the spirit of men. The spirit of the king and his men was kept burning through the cold night by the warm glow of peace on sleeping Salim. As the night passed, the thunder subsided, the lightning became less frequent. Eventually, as dawn broke, the Gods relented and on the morning of the 8th day, the clouds parted. Only after that did Salim wake from his holy slumber.

Once the skies had cleared, it was a much easier path towards their castle and survival. The folk were sure that Salim had shown them the way of peace. Inner peace. He had shown them how to be tranquil in the midst of the storms of life. As Salim slept and snored through the storm, the life of the king and his men was saved. Salim was christened Salim the Sonorous. The unmarried and childless emperor was so grateful for his life that he appointed Salim as his heir. Since that day, there was a decrease in the number of deaths by lightning in the kingdom.

The Pathan dynasty believes that the snoring of the noble Pathan man channels the energy of the thunder down from the skies into his vocal chords where it can do us no harm. Analogous to Lord Shiva from the Hindu scriptures who bore the brunt of the force of the Ganges and brought it to earth, the noble Pathan snorer channels the energy of thunder from the skies down to earth. Just like the lightning splits into several branches, and strikes at places of highest conductance, thunder splits into several branches and choses the most noble and strongest of men to dissipate its energy. Since that day, only the most suitable were chosen as heirs amongst those in the king’s court. Salim the Sonorous was succeeded by Rashid the Resounding and after that, your husband, Khan the Cacophonous.” said Fatima Begum.

“Since that day, nose strips for snoring are haram princess. Go back and watch your Shehzada save us from the wrath of the skies.” concluded Fatima Begum with a gentle smile.

The princess, wiser with the knowledge of the royal family’s heritage, walked back to her chambers. The princess stood near her bed and looked at her sleeping young prince. She could visualize the wrath of the skies funnel down from the skies down towards their kingdom and down to the Shehzada’s open mouth.

 

Image Source: LiveScience

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