This is a qissa of three ghosts, a history they wrote together, and another history or fiction yet to be fully written, which owes a debt to these ghosts and their history.

First, the three ghosts.

Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, or Generalissimus Abdul Rahim (1556-1627), was one of Mughal emperor Akbar's nauratans or nine gems, a title given to nine people of extraordinary ability serving Akbar's court. He was a poet, scholar of Persian and Sanskrit and author of two books on astrology in Sanskrit. But he is best known to history as a powerful minister and military commander.

Abul Fazl (1551-1602) was another one of Akbar's nauratans. He was the author of the three-volume Akbarnama, the official history of Akbar's reign. He authored other important works besides, which included a Persian translation of the Bible. Abul Fazl was executed at the behest of Akbar's son Jahangir, for his opposition to Jahangir's accession to the throne.

Muhammad Hussain Azad (1830-1910) was a scholar of Persian and Arabic, and one of Urdu's finest prose writers. He is best known for 1880's Aab-i-Hayat [The Elixir of Life], a commentary on Urdu poetry and its chronological history.

After the upheaval of 1857, during which Azad's father was executed by the British for his outspoken journalism as the editor of the Delhi Urdu Akhbar, Azad and his family lost their home and suffered many hardships. In 1861, Azad arrived in Lahore and, in 1864, joined the newly founded Government College (now the Government College University).

It was in Lahore that Azad authored the hugely important Darbaar-i-Akbari (1898), a history of Emperor Akbar's court. Besides its qualities as a highly readable history on an important subject, Darbaar-i-Akbari is also a unique experiment in historiography, being a history written on the authority of ghosts.

In 2013, I began work on a project to connect strange, marvellous and miraculous events and creatures in a unified, imaginary history of the world. It will be a book of many parts - all those parts also individual books - connected by frame- and interior stories. By its very nature, such a project required planning and working on several stories at the same time. It also required a systematic study of history with a certain lens. To this end, I began collecting books on history and the occult.

There are several histories written in Urdu, or translated into Urdu from Persian and Arabic. And there is a far greater number of books on the occult...

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