Saturday, August 07, 2004

Crumbling on Itself?

I've been reading an old novel for some time. I was introduced to this by William Dalrymple's City of Djinns - which is an even more interesting book.

Novel Posted by Hello

"Twilight in Delhi", written in 1912, and first published in 1940 is set in the early colonial period in India. Publishers refused to print it initially because it was critical of the British during the 1857 war.

It is supposed to be a love story between a Saiyyed boy - Asghar, with a Mughal girl - Bilqeece. It tells of a time and situations, so far away, and yet so close to the reality of today. A people calling themselves the aristocracy of Mughals, Syeds, and Khiljis, struggling with the sad truth of their demise as a productive nation. However, it tells beautifully the story of a people mourning their decline, and of an image of beauty and accomplishment. The following lines from a poem by the last Mughal King capture the spirit.

Bahadur Shah Zafar? Posted by Hello

I'm the light of no one's eye
The rest of no one's heart am I.
That which can be of use to none
- A handful of dust am I.

-- Bahadur Shah Zafar

However, I really like the novel, because it is different from what you'd hear from an old nostalgic person. It also shows the details, which mesmerize you - the small inconveniences, the failings, demystified.

Towards the end, our protagonist, Asghar is lonely and thinking -

Shame to poetry Posted by Hello

Afterwards, Ashgar himself reflects on the shallow, almost vulgar level of poetry. After all the memories, stories of bravery and nobility, lineages to kings, and everything else - the truth is that of a simple people being grinded in the wheels of time.


Blogger Abdusalaam said...

I'll defenitely make a point to read it when I get a chance, thanks.

On a related note, I didn't know Indians were writting books in english in 1912?

Wow!! Talk about the level of ignorance on my part.

August 08, 2004 9:15 AM  

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