Valentine's Day

How Humayun convinced the love of his life to marry him

Hamida Bano grew up to be a feisty queen and loyal wife, but when she first met her husband, she was just an angry teen.

Hamida Bano was a 14-year-old when Humayun Badshah, 33, met her in Pat, a town in Sehewan in the kingdom of Thatta, in 1541. Having been defeated by Sher Shah Suri in the battle of Kannauj, Humayun was on the run – he had lost the kingdom his father Babur had established in India and along with his half brother Hindal, he took refuge with Shah Hussain, the Sultan of Thatta in Sind.

After many days spent travelling through perilous and desolate deserts, they had finally found some peace. Humayun’s stepmother Dildar Bano, who was Hindal’s mother, gave a banquet in his honour and among the guests she invited, was the beautiful Hamida.

Hamida’s father Sheikh Ali Akbar, a Persian sufi more popularly known as Mir Baba Dost, was Hindal’s spiritual instructor, and there was a close bond between him and the family. As soon as Humayun saw Hamida Bano, he asked his stepmother Dildar, “Who is this?” He was mesmerised by the beauty and liveliness of the teenager and asked if she was already betrothed. On hearing that she was not, he expressed the desire to marry her.

Mirza Hindal was affronted. Not because, as some stories and texts say, he was in love with her – but because he was concerned about the family name.

“I look on this girl as a sister and child of my own,” he is believed to have said. “Your Majesty is a king – heaven forbid there should not be a proper meher, and so a cause of annoyance should rise.” Meher is a mandatory payment in the form of money or possessions paid or promised by the groom, or the groom’s father, to the bride at the time of marriage, which legally becomes her property. Hindal was concerned that an emperor on the run may not have enough resources for this endowment to his bride at the time of nikah, or their wedding.

Emperor Humayun. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Emperor Humayun. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Humayun assured his half-brother that he would ensure a meher befitting his royal status and their family name. Thus began a royal courtship, or at least an attempt at one: Humayun tried to woo Hamida, but she would have none of it. A much older man ousted from his empire was probably not the prince of her dreams. She may have known that an emperor, even one without an empire, must be imperious. She wanted a companion, not a ruler.

Gulbadan Begum, Humayun’s younger sister and the author of Humayun Nama, writes:

“On another day he came to my mother, and said: ‘Send someone to call Hamida Bano Begam here.’ 

When my mother sent the message, Hamida Bano Begam did not come, but said: ‘If it is to pay my respects, I was exalted by paying my respects the other day. Why should I come again?’”

Another time, Gulbadan writes, His Majesty sent Subhan Quli and said:

“’Go to Shah Husain Mirza and tell him to send the Begam.’ 

The Mirza said: ‘Whatever I may say, she will not go. Go yourself and tell her.’ 

When Subhan Quli went and spoke, the Begam replied: ‘To see kings once is lawful; a second time it is forbidden. I shall not come.’ 

On this Subhan Quli went and repeated what she had said. His Majesty remarked: ‘If she is na mahram, we will make her mahram.’”

The young woman was not one to be swayed by royal protocol or pomp. The resistance continued for 40 days. Finally, Dildar Bano went to the young woman and said, “After all you will marry someone, better a king who is here.”

The young girl replied, “Oh yes! I shall marry someone, but he shall be a man whose collar my hand can touch and not someone whose skirt it does not reach!”

Dildar Bano advised the teenager and perhaps even swore that her stepson was no autocrat. Hamida Bano finally agreed to marry the king and in September 1541, Humayun, a keen astrologer, took the astrolabe in his hand and chose a propitious hour. He then summoned Mir Abul Baqa and ordered him to solemnise his marriage to Hamida.

Hindal Mirza, the younger half brother of the second Mughal emperor Humayun. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Hindal Mirza, the younger half brother of the second Mughal emperor Humayun. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As meher, Hamida received two lakhs, a sum that befitted the royal status, and the title of Maryam Makani, or dwelling with Mary, in recognition of her innocence and piety. Though Hamida had been apprehensive of being just another addition to a royal harem, the 15 years that she would be married to Humayun were spent in close companionship with him. Love must have been further nurtured in the hard conditions they endured, for she never once left his side.

While still on the run a year later, they were blessed with a son in Umerkot where they had taken refuge with the Rajput king Rana Prashad. The child born on October 15, 1542, was named in accordance with Humayun’s dream. After his defeat in Kannauj, Humayun had headed for Lahore. In a state of utter dejection, he had had a vision there, in which a venerable man in green clothes holding a staff had said, “Be of good cheer, do not grieve,” and had given his staff to Humayun. “The most high God will give you a son whose name will be Jalauddin Mohammed Akbar,” the holy man had said.

When Humayun asked the man in the vision his name, he replied, “The Terrible elephant Zinda Fil Ahmed of Jam,“ and added, “Your son will be of my lineage.”

Sheikh Ahmed e Jami had been an 11th century Persian sufi saint. Hamida Bano was in fact his descendant. Humayun personally cast Akbar’s fortune and predicted greatness for the baby.

In December 1543, they were once again on the run and she made the perilous journey from Sindh with Qandhar as their destination. But in the course of that journey, Gulbadan writes, “Humayun had to take hasty flight from Shal-mastan, through a desert and waterless waste”.

Hamida went with her husband, leaving her infant son behind with trusted servants and Humayun’s brother Askari. She was reunited with him in Kabul after two years. Hamida remained steadfast by her husband’s side through his life and even accompanied him to Persia. There were no comforts or luxuries with meager provisions and no personal attendants on that journey, but even in the darkest of days, Hamida was not only his companion but a source of inspiration.

After an exile of fifteen years Humayun regained the throne of Delhi, but he was not destined to rule for long. He died a year later and his son Akbar ascended the throne. Akbar was only thirteen at the time and recognising his mother’s acumen and intelligence, often sought her advice. Hamida was a wife for only fifteen years and she lived for fifty after Humayun’s death. She is buried in a chamber next to the tomb of her husband in Delhi, built by his eldest wife Bega Begum or Haji Begum.

Cenotaph of Hamida Banu Begum along with that of Dara Shikoh and others, is located in a side chamber of Humayun's Tomb, Delhi. Credit: via Flickr CC BY
Cenotaph of Hamida Banu Begum along with that of Dara Shikoh and others, is located in a side chamber of Humayun's Tomb, Delhi. Credit: via Flickr CC BY
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Putting the patient first - insights for hospitals to meet customer service expectations

These emerging solutions are a fine balance between technology and the human touch.

As customers become more vocal and assertive of their needs, their expectations are changing across industries. Consequently, customer service has gone from being a hygiene factor to actively influencing the customer’s choice of product or service. This trend is also being seen in the healthcare segment. Today good healthcare service is no longer defined by just qualified doctors and the quality of medical treatment offered. The overall ambience, convenience, hospitality and the warmth and friendliness of staff is becoming a crucial way for hospitals to differentiate themselves.

A study by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions in fact indicates that good patient experience is also excellent from a profitability point of view. The study, conducted in the US, analyzed the impact of hospital ratings by patients on overall margins and return on assets. It revealed that hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability. For instance, hospitals with ‘excellent’ consumer assessment scores between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with ‘low’ scores.

This clearly indicates that good customer service in hospitals boosts loyalty and goodwill as well as financial performance. Many healthcare service providers are thus putting their efforts behind: understanding constantly evolving customer expectations, solving long-standing problems in hospital management (such as long check-out times) and proactively offering a better experience by leveraging technology and human interface.

The evolving patient

Healthcare service customers, who comprise both the patient and his or her family and friends, are more exposed today to high standards of service across industries. As a result, hospitals are putting patient care right on top of their priorities. An example of this in action can be seen in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. In July 2015, the hospital launched a ‘Smart OPD’ system — an integrated mobile health system under which the entire medical ecosystem of the hospital was brought together on a digital app. Patients could use the app to book/reschedule doctor’s appointments and doctors could use it to access a patient’s medical history, write prescriptions and schedule appointments. To further aid the process, IT assistants were provided to help those uncomfortable with technology.

The need for such initiatives and the evolving nature of patient care were among the central themes of the recently concluded Abbott Hospital Leadership Summit. The speakers included pundits from marketing and customer relations along with leaders in the healthcare space.

Among them was the illustrious speaker Larry Hochman, a globally recognised name in customer service. According to Mr. Hochman, who has worked with British Airways and Air Miles, patients are rapidly evolving from passive recipients of treatment to active consumers who are evaluating their overall experience with a hospital on social media and creating a ‘word-of-mouth’ economy. He talks about this in the video below.

Play

As the video says, with social media and other public platforms being available today to share experiences, hospitals need to ensure that every customer walks away with a good experience.

The promise gap

In his address, Mr. Hochman also spoke at length about the ‘promise gap’ — the difference between what a company promises to deliver and what it actually delivers. In the video given below, he explains the concept in detail. As the gap grows wider, the potential for customer dissatisfaction increases.

Play

So how do hospitals differentiate themselves with this evolved set of customers? How do they ensure that the promise gap remains small? “You can create a unique value only through relationships, because that is something that is not manufactured. It is about people, it’s a human thing,” says Mr. Hochman in the video below.

Play

As Mr. Hochman and others in the discussion panel point out, the key to delivering a good customer experience is to instil a culture of empathy and hospitality across the organisation. Whether it is small things like smiling at patients, educating them at every step about their illness or listening to them to understand their fears, every action needs to be geared towards making the customer feel that they made the correct decision by getting treated at that hospital. This is also why, Dr. Nandkumar Jairam, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia, talked about the need for hospitals to train and hire people with soft skills and qualities such as empathy and the ability to listen.

Striking the balance

Bridging the promise gap also involves a balance between technology and the human touch. Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, who also spoke at the event, wrote about the example of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health Hospitals. He writes that their team of surgeons typically performs about 900 procedures a month which is equivalent to what most U.S. university hospitals do in a year. The hospitals employ cutting edge technology and other simple innovations to improve efficiency and patient care.

The insights gained from Narayana’s model show that while technology increases efficiency of processes, what really makes a difference to customers are the human touch-points. As Mr. Hochman says, “Human touch points matter more because there are less and less of them today and are therefore crucial to the whole customer experience.”

Play

By putting customers at the core of their thinking, many hospitals have been able to apply innovative solutions to solve age old problems. For example, Max Healthcare, introduced paramedics on motorcycles to circumvent heavy traffic and respond faster to critical emergencies. While ambulances reach 30 minutes after a call, the motorcycles reach in just 17 minutes. In the first three months, two lives were saved because of this customer-centric innovation.

Hospitals are also looking at data and consumer research to identify consumer pain points. Rajit Mehta, the MD and CEO of Max Healthcare Institute, who was a panelist at the summit, spoke of the importance of data to understand patient needs. His organisation used consumer research to identify three critical areas that needed work - discharge and admission processes for IPD patients and wait-time for OPD patients. To improve wait-time, they incentivised people to book appointments online. They also installed digital kiosks where customers could punch in their details to get an appointment quickly.

These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.