Past in Perspective

“They were so convincing, and so insistent,
that for 40 years people believed them”
–Ellen Barry

Amongst the many scars of our colonized past stands the story of the Royal Family of Oudh. Oudh was a princely that was annexed by the British in 1856. The Nawab of Oudh was exiled to Nepal but rumors continued that he was survived by ‘royal’ family. It so happened that in early 1970s, Begum Wilayat Mahal, along with her son, Cyrus, and daughter, Sakina, arrived at the Lucknow train station. They claimed that they were royal descendants of the Nawab of Oudh and demanded that the government provide them what the British had ‘stolen’ from them. The family stayed at this station and consequently, the New Delhi station for nearly 10 years. Finally, the government accepted their demands and, in 1985, offered them the Malcha Mahal located in Delhi. The family’s reclusive nature and historic status attracted many journalists. In November 2019, one of these journalists named Ellen Barry revealed that the family’s claim to royalty was untrue. However, by then, all three family members had passed away.

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