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My fate is sealed. After today, I am no longer free. My life will be rules by the wishes of my husband and his family.

I have lost everything. My father, my mother, my brothers. All gone. I have even lost my faith and my given name. No one can protect me from the horrors of what I am about to face.

I am little more than a bargaining chip for peace. If one side has the daughter of another, they won’t fight, right? By agreeing with my father’s plan, I possibly saved hundreds of lives, the lives of my people. To save even one life, I would go through a year of suffering. I could not say no.

I glance down at my clothing. Red, orange, and yellow, with plenty of gold.

“Fiery colors for a fiery maiden,” my mother had said. I could see the sorrow in her face. Her beloved daughter was to be sold to a man she didn’t know. A man she had never met.

My mother pressed a bottle into my hand. “Use it if need be,” she whispered.

For the first time in my life, I was scared. If my mother handed me, her child, poison to escape the world I was about to enter, how terrible would life be? Images flashed across my mind. Torture, discrimination, what else would I face? My thoughts quickly turned suicidal. Then I remembered who I was. Who my father was, my brothers were. I could not disgrace their name by behaving badly. I will live and I will thrive.

I look into the mirrors, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man sitting next to me. I see a flash of brown skin, then an aristocratic nose. His profile and posture are regal. There is much to be admired about him.

What will he be like? Kind, abusive, dangerous, friendly? What will he do? What does he expect of me? Am I merely a figurehead? Or will I have a place in the household?

As if he can sense my tribulations, he paints his face into a kind smile. I cast my eyes downward. I will not be charmed.

I must not distract myself with frivolous thoughts. I am strong, I’ll find a way to bend everyone to my will.

His other wives don’t pose any threats. I am the most beautiful. Beauty is power. And power is what I seek.

I am the most powerful; therefore, I am the only one fit to stand by my husband’s side. We will have an immense responsibility to thousands of people.

Because I am Jodhaa and he is Akbar. And we are the heads of the Mughal Dynasty.

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