Salim, was the son of the renowned Mughal Emperor, Akbar. He fell in love with a beautiful courtesan named Anarkali. This outraged Akbar’s sense of royalty and he castigated the lovers. She, being a dancing girl wasn’t from a “noble birth”, and Salim, being a prince, it would be blasphemy for him to associate with anybody below his standards. The emperor undertook various tactics to make Anarkali fall in the eyes of Salim, so he may renounce his love for her, but when Salim realized this plot, he declared war against his father, which he inevitably lost and was sentenced to death. In order to keep him alive, Anarkali denied the love affair. However, she was entombed alive in a brick wall, right in front of Salim’s eyes. Some say that the tomb had a secret tunnel through which she escaped, never to return again. But Salim, who went on to be Jahangir, spent his entire life mourning his one true love, and died with her name on his lips.
Qays ibn al-Mulawwah was just a boy when he fell in love with Layla. He was devoted to her and wrote several poems that he would read at street corners, proclaiming his love to anybody who would listen. People called him ‘Majnun’, meaning ‘the possessed’. When he asked for Layla’s hand in marriage, her father did not want to give her to a madman, and so, married her off to somebody else. This caused him great distress and he receded into the wilderness, writing poetry, and reading it to himself. Layla was a faithful wife, but when her husband passed away, she finally thought she would be united with her lover, but society forbade her to leave home, and compelled her to grieve for 2 more years. Layla couldn’t bear the distress any longer and died of a broken heart. When Majnun received news about her death, he travelled to where she was kept, and died weeping his heart out by her grave.
3. Shah Jahan-Mumtaz Mahal
Shah Jahan, the son of Jahangir, was 14 years old, strolling down the Meena Bazaar, accompanied by fawning courtiers, when he caught sight of Arjumand Banu Begum, hawking silk and glass beads. She was a Persian princess of 15. He went home and told his father he had found his match. He grew to have other wives too, but none that he loved as much/more than Begum. He named her ‘Mumtaz Mahal’ meaning ‘the jewel of the palace’. When Mumtaz died, giving birth to her 14thchild, he promised to build her a mausoleum and never marry again. The court went into two years of mourning, and he took 22 years and 22,000 workers to erect a monument in her memory that went on to become one of the Seven Wonders of the World. When he died, his tomb was buried beside her, in a secret chamber of the Taj Mahal.
Romeo and Juliet fell in love with each other at a party. However, since they came from families that hated each other, they soon realized that they would never be allowed to be together. So, with the help of Friar Lawrence, they got married in secret. Before their wedding night, Romeo had killed Juliet’s cousin in a duel, and so, was banished from seeing Juliet. He could not return to the city where a death sentence awaited him. Juliet’s parents implored her to marry Paris as they are oblivious to her marriage with Romeo. She refused in the beginning, but gave in soon after, planning her escape by faking death. Friar Lawrence gave her a sleeping potion, and she was put in a tomb. However, Romeo, not knowing the plan, visited the grave, and on finding her dead, killed himself. When Juliet awakened, she found her lover dead by the side of her tomb. She kissed him, hoping that the remnant of the poison would kill her, but hearing the approaching watch, she unsheathed Romeo’s dagger and stabbed herself with it.
The love between Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra, and Marcus Antonius, is remembered in history for the fatal end. It is one of those love stories in history that is known for the unfulfilled love and death of the lovers. After they were defeated by the Romans, under Octavius, Antony received false news that Cleopatra had died in Egypt while he was away. Being unable to bear the news, he stabbed himself to death. Cleopatra was inconsolable. Caesar took Cleopatra as prisoner, planning to display her across Rome, in a procession, but Cleopatra arranged for poisonous snakes that bit her and her aides, thus dying mid-way. Caesar had the lovers buried next to each other, and in Shakespeare’s version, honored them by saying, “no grave upon the earth shall clip in it a pair so famous.”
Orpheus is famed for his music, which won over all hearts: humans, wild beasts, and even the stones. After Orpheus and Eurydice got married, the latter was bitten by a snake that very night, and died. Orpheus travelled to the Underworld, in search of his wife, charming the gods of Hades with his music. He struck a deal with Hades and Persephone, who allowed him to take Eurydice back with him, provided she walked by his side and he never looked at her, while climbing up. However, overcome by passion, Orpheus turned around, while they’re almost near the exit, to check if Eurydice was following him, and she faded away, to be lost in the Underworld forever. Orpheus roamed Greece, for the rest of his life, playing sad songs, until he was torn to shreds by a gang of drunk women.
Pyramus and Thisbe were based in Babylon. They were neighbors, and their families hated each other. As they grew up, they fell in love, and would whisper to each other through the crack in the wall that separated them. A point arrived when they couldn’t bear the distance any longer, and decided to elope. Thisbe arrived at the tomb of Ninus, where they had planned to meet, only to find a lioness there, whose face was blood-stained from a recent kill. Thisbe fled the scene, screaming, leaving her scarf behind. The lioness drank water from a nearby stream and proceeded to tear her scarf apart. Pyramus, misunderstanding the situation, stabbed himself to death, followed by Thisbe who returned to find her lover dead. The mulberry tree, formerly white, is still said to be tainted red with the color of their blood.
Bonnie and Clyde are my favorite in this entire list, because they were the least conventionally romantic. They were what all lovers should be: not murderers, or thieves, but best friends. When Clyde Chestnut Barrow, met Bonnie Elizabeth Parker, the former had a criminal record. However, that didn’t make Bonnie change her mind about him. They proceeded to become a Dangerous Duo, with their gang being responsible for the death of at least nine police officers and several civilians. They were ambushed by the police in Bienville Parish, Louisiana in 1934 and killed. They wished to be buried together but Bonnie’s parents didn’t approve of it. Every year, the anniversary of their ambush in celebrated in the “Bonnie and Clyde festival” hosted in the town of Gibsland.