A nautch girl who rose to become a ruthless ruler and good administrator, Begum Samru was not above exercising feminine wiles to attain her political ambitions!
Raja Petra Kamarudin
The company is called Carpet Raya Sdn Bhd (company number 492434-H). The paid up capital of the company is RM8.7 million. The company has five directors who are also the shareholders of the company; each holding almost equal shares in the company.
But I am interested in only one of its shareholders/directors who goes by the name of Deepak — 37 years old, unmarried, and good-looking enough to qualify for a Bollywood movie.
The company was registered ten years ago on 26 August 1999. The last accounts filed with the Registrar of Companies on 24 November 2006 shows that the company has total assets of almost RM90 million, total liabilities of about RM67 million, and reserves of more than RM12 million.
The revenue of the company for 2005 was RM122 million and the profit in excess of RM7 million. Of course, the RM7 million profit is the official or declared profit. No company in Malaysia declares its real profits anyway. So, on a revenue base of RM122 million, you can expect the real or undeclared profit to be many times that.
But that was the accounts for 2005, which was four years ago. How much more has the company made over the last four years, which they prefer to keep hidden from public view? Take my word for it. We are talking about hundreds of millions here.
The company is supposed to be in the business of selling carpets. Is the carpet business really that lucrative that one can earn hundreds of millions? RM122 million a year is sure a lot of carpets. Ah, but that is not really what the company does for a living. The carpet business is just a front. Sure, they do sell carpets. But that is not where the real money is. The real business of the company is to act as the Bagman for Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the Prime Minister.
I met the Carpetman more than a year ago. He asked to meet through a mutual acquaintance because he was alarmed that I was about to reveal that the Carpetman is actually Rosmah’s Bagman. But that was not the thing that got him all flustered. What did was the revelation I was going to make that he is not only the Carpetman who is Rosmah’s Bagman but that he is also her Toyboy.
I only do business with Rosmah, said the Carpetman. My relationship with Rosmah is only for business purposes. I am not sleeping with Rosmah, he pleaded. So please do not tell the public that I am Rosmah’s Toyboy. The impression he wanted to make is that his relationship with Rosmah is confined to the boardroom and does not extend to the bedroom.
Well, that is not what Mumtaz Jaafar says. And who is Mumtaz Jaafar? Hey, if I start talking about her then I would also have to mention her relationship with Saiful, the person who alleges that Anwar Ibrahim sodomised him. And if I start talking about that then we will end up talking about the Sodomy 2 case as well. So let’s get back to the subject of the Carpetman, Rosmah’s Bagman cum Toyboy.
The whole country is very focused on Najib Tun Razak’s extramarital affairs. Sure, every Malaysian knows about this. And every Malaysian also knows about him getting caught in a Port Dickson hotel room with Ziana Zain. In fact, Isa Samad even had photographs of Najib clad only in a towel with the delicious young thing in his bed. And Isa handed the photograph over to the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. (And that is why Mahathir just does not understand why Najib would choose Isa to contest the Bagan Pinang by-election when it was Isa who tried to bring Najib down with the photograph).
Anyway, let’s not digress too far. As I said, every Malaysian knows about Najib’s extramarital affairs. But how many also know that Rosmah has a penchant for Bollywood types. Hell, she will even arrange datukships for them if they treat her the way she loves to be treated, if you know what I mean. And this particular chap I am talking about, the Carpetman cum Bagman cum Toyboy, is far better looking than Shahrukh Khan (or is it Datuk Shahrukh Khan now?) — not to mention younger as well.
Yes, I have been keeping this story under wraps for more than a year now. But it is now time that the story be told. There is more, though. Deepak the Carpetman cum Bagman cum Toyboy has been very naughty. And all these naughty deeds were done on behalf of Rosmah.
In due course more will be revealed about the role of the Carpetman and how he has served Rosmah. Today is not the time to do that though. So stay tuned for further episodes of the Carpetman cum Bagman cum Toyboy of the so-called First Lady of Malaysia.
ALLING IN LOVE IS JUST POSSIBLE, AND EASY TOO. JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES AND BELIEVE!
Who can deny the romance and adventure of history? I am fascinated when a visit to a regular town reveals trails of history that lead you to unbelievable stories of love, bravery, loyalty and fortitude – emotions so deep and abiding that their tentacles reach through the travails of time and wrap you in a soft cloud of memories and romance.
Could I then have resisted following Begum Samru’s romantic trail when I found myself in Meerut? Not a chance! Hers is an amazing story of a pretty nautch girl of Chandni Chowk who rose to become the Begum of the principality of Sardhana near Meerut, and an influential person in the court of Emperor Shah Alam II. A Muslim girl who converted to Christianity and was the only local Catholic ruler in India! A convert who actually built a church in Sardhana that is today a Minor Basilica and an important pilgrimage spot for Christians!
And so we set off on the dusty track road that leads to Sardhana from Meerut. Letting my imagination flow, I wondered how the diminutive 4-1/2 -foot turbaned Begum Samru rode on horseback along these paths two centuries ago while I was being knocked sore in the relative comfort of a car! But then she, I believe, was made of far sterner material than most women today.
The queen of intrigue in a time of political chicanery, the Begum gained a reputation for administering her lands and feminine wiles with equal expertise.
At the age of 14, Samru, then nautch girl Farzana, had caught the eye of a European mercenary soldier Walter Reinhardt Sombre, whom she married in 1775. Inheriting the principality of Sardhana upon his death, she led her troops in many crucial battles, particularly against the British.
What I find particularly fascinating about Samru is that despite being the best amongst male administrators and warriors of the time, and a ruthless leader who used brute force against opponents, she did not lose her womanly instincts of kindness to her subjects, nor her feminine graces or romantic instincts! The Begum was involved in many fascinating affaires d’coeur. Wooed by European officers, she grew close to Frenchman Le Vassoult. Her troops mutinied over her rumored marriage to him; the passionate Begum who gave her all in love, tried to elope with him and later survived an attempt at suicide when she heard he had been killed. When British General Gerard Lake kissed her in enthusiasm, the Begum had to pacify her troops by explaining diplomatically that it was like the kiss of a priest to a “repentant child”!
Historian John Lall describes her in his book Begum Samru, “Farzana grew into a rare beauty with flashing eyes, pearl complexion and lively wit.” What adds an exciting edge is that the Begum “had no qualms about her character!”
Our first stop in Sardhana was the beautiful Basilica of Our Lady of Graces, a Roman Catholic Church that Begum Samru built using the best craftsmen and materials available. And yet, because of her Muslim origins, the lady herself was denied a burial in the very church that depicts her life through a series of statues next to the Sanctuary inside!
Inside is a sight to be taken in slowly and absorbed -- the historical irony is difficult to escape! The Begum enshrined next to Lord Jesus, Mother Mary and other Christian saints. There atop an 18-foot edifice, the Muslim-born convert Begum Samru sits resplendent forever, smoking her hookah in a church dedicated to Virgin Mary! The Begum certainly had the last laugh! Engraved in marble by Italian sculptor Adamo Tadolini, preserved for posterity, Samru is surrounded by European and Indian courtiers, amongst them interestingly, her Diwan, Rae Singh, who was the great grandfather of Motilal Nehru! In the same marble tableau, the Begum is depicted through various statues as a powerful, benevolent and stern leader.
A touching sight greets us at what was once the Begum’s palace in Sardhana and is now St Charles’ Inter College. A garden full of the most exotic roses here is dedicated to the Begum. It was in a room atop this palace that the Begum died at the age of 90 in 1836. We walk through the palace and are entranced by her sunken bath that received flavoured waters of different hues for her ablutions. At the entrance, we imagine her arriving in splendour to hold court up a stairway built for her elephant. We also catch a glimpse of an iron gate that leads under the palace to what was rumored to be once a tunnel that connected the palace all the way to Delhi.
Roaming through the streets of quiet and slow Sardhana, where the Begum still dwells in the memory of people, I was saddened that history textbooks don’t do justice to this extraordinary lady, who was a rare mix of chutzpah, intrigue, fair play and loyalty. Recent years however have seen some books written on the Begum, and filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia has also announced his intention to make a film on the Begum’s life. Says he over the phone, “Begum Samru was a great politician and manipulator. There is no woman like her today! She reacted to the times. The problem today is that we just don’t react!”
Indeed if every woman had half the spirit of Samru, the world as women know it, would change for the better!