Who was Mah Laqa Bai?

Mah Laqa Bai of Hyderabad Deccan wore many hats during her lifetime. She was an archer and an expert javelin thrower, and accompanied the Nizam in wars dressed in male attire. Valued for her intellect, she was consulted in court about political affairs. She travelled with a parade of 500 soldiers when she met officials. As per her wish, after her death, her wealth, including jewellery and land, was donated to homeless women.

Born to Raj Kunwar and Bahadur Khan, Chanda Bibi (her birth name) was adopted by Raj Kunwar’s sister Mehtaab Mah, a courtesan. She grew up being exposed to literature and culture. By the time she was a teenager, she was an expert at horse riding and archery. A talented musician and poet, she also mastered Deccani kathak.

She was a courtesan in the Nazim’s court and held a position of respect and power. For her contributions as a warrior she was rewarded pieces of land from the Nizam from time to time. She was bestowed with the title ‘Mah Laqa Bai’ or ‘moon-faced madame’. During her time as  courtesan, she made considerable wealth, which she used to build libraries, sponsor artists and poets and also commission the Mahanama (history of the Deccan).

A staunch feminist, Mah Laqa also built a cultural centre where she educated and trained young girls. He had a walled compound built to hold mushairas (poetic symposiums) every week. It was here that she was buried after her death in 1824.

There were many courtesan during the Deccan Nizam period but none could parallel the strength and authority of Mah Laqa Bai. She was among the first women whose poems were published posthumously – the ‘Gulzar-e-Mahlaqa” is a collection of Urdu ghazals.

Mah Laqa Bai’s works were hard hitting and articulate here’s an example:

Who has the power to praise God, should a tongue try to speak

It’s as if this world were nothing but silent and weak

To tell Muhammad’s virtue, who needs a poet’s glittering gathering?

Keep the tongue from babbling, like a candle’s flowing wick.

Maha Laqa Bai gained ‘Omrah’ status I the Nizam’s court, which is rarely provided to women. As an Omrah, she could attend the Nizam’s durbar and advise him on state policies.


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I am easily distracted by television and mobile phones

I’m in Class X. I am easily distracted by television and mobile phones. As a result, I am scoring just 400-odd marks. My teachers expect me to score more than 450. How can I fulfill their expectations?

You are capable of doing well in your studies. You have identified the factors affecting your performance. Mobile phones and television must be used only to keep yourself connected with others. They should not take control your usage. Fix your goal and aim to achieve your best. It is healthy to set your own targets to avoid anxiety and stress. To reduce distraction, plan your work. Allot time for television and mobile phones. Keep mobile phones away from your place of study. Self-discipline is very important. Visualize achieving your goal, it will be a motivation.


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I’m unable to stop feeling sad

I am in Class XI. I have many issues. I hate my life, many times I’ve thought of suicide but don’t act on it because I think of my mother. I don’t have a friend to share my problems with. For many, their father is a hero but not for me. Nowadays, we both fight a lot. Till when I was in Class VIII I performed well in academics but now I’m unable to do that, especially in Physics and Chemistry. I scored low marks in Class X but I want to do well in Class XII and make my mother proud. Though I surround myself with positive things, I’m unable to stop feeling sad. Please help me.

To be burdened with issues and suicidal thoughts at this age is tough. Your mother is your strength and your relationship with your father is not desirable. The reasons for your suicidal tendencies are not clear. But you have to take steps to handle these issues. Your emotional issues will affect your academic performance. All of us go through different kinds of problems at different stages of our lives. We should not give up. Consult a therapist to overcome your problems and live better. You are very young and have to achieve a lot in life. I appreciate your interests to do well in Class XII and make your mother proud. Take necessary steps to identify the difficulties in subjects such as Physics and Chemistry, get extra coaching to manage your studies.


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I realised social media is distracting me

I am in Class X. I’ve been good in academics, but recently I realised social media is distracting me. I have self-esteem issues and so I don’t wear my glasses as prescribed. It’s very hard to read anything that is far. During my maths examinations recently I couldn’t see the time on the clock properly. Because of this I could not plan my writing and I think I am going to lose a lot of marks now. I cannot share this with anyone because nobody hears me out. My mother is angry with me because I’m not getting marks. I don’t know what to do. Sometimes, I want to hurt myself but I’ve never done it so far. I’m scared my reputation among my teachers and classmates will be affected. I want to be a NASA scientist when I grow up, but that just seems so impossible. I always feel like crying. It’s hard to control my emotion but I don’t trust anyone enough to open up. Everyone has high expectation of me but I feel I can’t fulfill them. Help me.

You are good at academics and capable of doing your best if you set your heart to it. You seem to be under great pressure. As for your glasses, although you may not like to use it, it is a necessity. You must not lose your focus in academics because you are not okay wearing glasses. The loss is yours. You have to make a choice, be smart and choose the better option. In order to do your best and achieve your goal you just start focusing. Goals can be achieved only by hard work and determination. Social media is a means to keep you connected with others, it is not a compulsion. If you feel it is contributing to your distraction, keep off it. Prioritize your needs. Becoming anxious will add to your stress and not help you do your best. No one is perfect and it’s okay to make mistakes. We all learn from our mistakes. Love yourself and give positive affirmations to yourself such as “I can do it”, “I feel good” etc. to keep going. Stay calm and focused. Build your confidence and take small steps towards your goal. Start today to have a bright future.


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I want to excel in academics, sports, arts, dance and music

I’m in Class IX. I want to excel in academics, sports, arts, dance and music. But nowadays, I don’t seem to have the time even for revising concepts. How can I realise my dream?

Appreciate your interest in both studies and extra-curricular activities. You are multi-talented, and in order to excel in all these areas, time management is essential. At the same time, you must also enjoy your adolescence without much pressure. Also, it is important to understand one’s own limitation. Fix goals that are realistic and achievable. Take a minute to understand how many of these activities you can be a part of. Prioritize. Do whatever is satisfying to you. Introspect why you do not have time. Are you getting exhausted? Spend quality time on the work you do. Appreciate yourself when you complete your work. Self-motivation is very important to accomplish anything in life. Avoid distractions. The time spent travelling to school or any other class. If possible, take a short nap to recharge yourself. Do not compromise on your sleep and diet. It is very essential and important to have energy. If you follow a proper strategy and introspect on your activities, you can be effective and do your best.


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