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    Directions for Questions : Babur’s head was throbbing with the persistent ache that dogged him during the monsoon. The warm rain had been falling for three days now but the still. heavy air held no promise of relief. The rains would go on for weeks, even months. Lying back against silken bolsters in his bedchamber in the Agra fort, he tried to imagine the chill, thin rains of Ferghana blowing in over the jagged summit of Mount Beshtor and failed. The punkah above his head hardly disturbed the air. It was hard even to remember what it was like not to feel hot. There was little pleasure just now even in visiting his garden the sodden flowers, soggy ground and overflowing water channels only depressed him.

    Babur got up and tried to concentrate on writing an entry in his diary but the words wouldn’t come and he pushed his jewel-studded inkwell impatiently aside. Maybe he would go to the women’s apartments. He would ask Maham to sing. Sometimes she accompanied herself on the round-bellied, slendernecked lute that had once belonged to Esan Dawlat. Maham lacked her grandmother’s but the lute still made a sweet sound in her hands.

    Or he might play a game of chess with Humayun. His son had a shrewd, subtle mind – but so, he prided himself, did he and he could usually beat him. It amused him to see Humayun’s startled look as he claimed victory with the traditional cry shah mat – ‘check-mate’, ‘the king is at a loss’. Later, they would discuss Babur’s plans to launch a campaign when the rains eased against the rulers of Bengal. In their steamy jungles in the Ganges delta, they thought they could defy Moghul authority and deny Babur’s overlordship.

    ‘Send for my son Humayun and fetch my chessmen,’ Babur ordered a servant. Trying to shake off his lethargy he got up and went to a casement projecting over the riverbank to watch the swollen, muddy waters of the Jumna rushing by. A farmer was leading his bony bullocks along the oozing bank.

    Hearing footsteps Babur turned, expecting to see his son, but it was only the white-tunicked servant. ‘Majesty, your son begs your forgiveness but he is unwell and cannot leave his chamber.’

    What is the matter with him?’

    ‘I do not know, Majesty.’

    Humayun was never ill. Perhaps he, too, was suffering from the torpor that came with the monsoon, sapping the energy and spirit of even the most vigorous.

    ‘I will go to him.’ Babur wrapped a yellow silk robe around himself and thrust his feet into pointed kidskin slippers. Then he hurried from his apartments to Humayun’s on the opposite side of a galleried courtyard, where water was not shooting as it should, in sparkling arcs from the lotus-shaped marble basins of the fountains but pouring over the inundated rims.

    Humayun was lying on his bed, arms thrown back, eyes closed, forehead beaded with sweat, shivering. When he heard his father’s voice he opened his eyes but they were bloodshot, the pupils dilated. Babur could hear his heavy wheezing breathing. Every scratchy intake of air seemed an effort which hurt him.

    ‘When did this illness begin?’

    ‘Early this morning, Father.’

    ‘Why wasn’t I told?’ Babur looked angrily at his son’s attendants. ‘Send for my hakim immediately!’ Then he dipped his own silk handkerchief into some water and wiped Humayun’s brow. The sweat returned at once – in fact, it was almost running down his face and he seemed to be shivering even more violently now and his teeth had begun to chatter.

    ‘Majesty, the hakim is here.’

    Abdul-Malik went immediately to Humayun’s bedside, laid a hand on his forehead, pulled back his eyelids and felt his pulse. Then, with increasing concern, he pulled open Humayun’s robe and, bending, turned his neatly turbaned head to listen to Humayun’s heart.

    ‘What is wrong with him?’

    Abdul-Malik paused. ‘It is hard to say, Majesty. I need to examine him further.’ ‘

    Whatever you require you only have to say…’

    ‘I will send for my assistants. If I may be frank, it would be best if you were to leave the chamber, Majesty. I will report to you when l have examined the prince thoroughly – but it looks serious, perhaps even grave. His pulse and heartbeat are weak and rapid.’ Without waiting for Babur’s reply, Abdul-Malik turned back to his patient. Babur hesitated and, after a glance at his son’s waxen trembling face, the room. As attendants closed the doors behind him he found that he, too, was trembling.

    A chill closed round his heart. So many times he had feared for Humayun. At Panipat he could have fallen beneath the feet of one of Sultan Ibrahim’s war elephants. At Khanua he might have been felled by the slash of a Rajput sword. But he had never thought that Humayun – so healthy and strong – might succumb to sickness. How could he face life without his beloved eldest son? Hindustan and all its riches would be worthless if Humayun died. He would never have come to this sweltering, festering land with its endless hot rains and whining, bloodsucking mosquitoes if he had known this would be the price.

    According to this passage, which of the following has not been used to describe Humayun?

    Options :-

    1. Shrewd and subtle minded

    2. Healthy and strong bodied

    3. Neatly turbaned head

    4. Father's beloved

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