The child swims inside of me as if I am a great ocean. Even through the cacophony of battle, you must hear her flailing arms slapping against the water that embraces her. This one, our last one. As she emerges into the world, she will call to you.
Together we have created thirteen, my love. Thirteen times before I have become a vessel for what we mold together. We grieved as seven children slipped away from us not so long after entering this world.
I am the envy of the two women who came before me, yet I confess that sometimes I envy them. I envy their solitude, the quiet of their lives all their own, and the moments that you slip into their arms, though rare and only when I am as now. Once when I believed that you had gone to one of them, I found you sitting quietly in the garden, surrounded by the song of birds. You chose instead to nestle amidst the blooms and snaking waters of the charbagh, the garden child of my imagination. That child will also survive me.
Today, our seven lost children dance about just inside this earthly space. Often as I give birth I see them as sparks in the air and hear their small voices in the wind. This time I hear and see them more clearly, and among them are the unfortunate little ones who left this world with bellies empty. No matter how much I tried, I could not do enough for all of those children.
Here in Burhanpur and not far from me, you fulfill your dream of empire, your hands streaked with blood. Yet I know your heart teases you to abandon that struggle and to return to me, my Khurram. Come and take into your arms our tiny Gauhara.
Around me, this rowdy group of small earthly strangers, unfettered by worldly expectations, all shout with the sound of tinkling glass and beckon me to come with them, to truly be their mother at last. I see a vision of a white dome rising from the grounds of Agra as I pass. But as I leave, your whisper of my name, Mumtaz, echoes always in eternity.
"O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you."