Ahmed Ali a prolific Pakistani writer sets his masterpiece, Twilight in Delhi, in late 19th century .he wants to portray a picture of Delhi in its true perspective .like he said ….my purpose was to depict a phase of our national life and the decay of a whole culture, a particular mode of thought and living, now dead and gone already right before our eyes(text).
Ahmed Ali’s representation of the middle class Muslim family of Mir Nihal and the depiction of Delhi, is realy a wonderful task. He adequately shows the decay of the whole culture on the whole this novel shows the element of universality because it infuses many layers of meaning in it, like Delhi as an embodiment of the whole culture, and Mir Nihal as true Delhi citizen or the representative of the Indian Muslim class novelist doesn’t want to show a complete picture of Muslim society in Delhi but also show the pragmatic understanding of life, religious identities, and the harsh realities of life.
Seven Delhis have fallen: and the eighth is going way of its predecessors, yet to be built and demolished again life, like the phoenix must collect spices from its nest and set fire to it, and arise resurrected out of the flames, by using the highly suggestive image of phonix as death in life, and also as, life in death, the novelist makes us reconise the cyclic phenomenon, birth-growth decay-resurrection, that governs the lives of men and cities. At the same time, he suggest to us behind the man-inficted havoc against another man , there is a greater and omnipotent force.… great are the ravages of time , and no one can do anything against its indomitable might. Kings die and dynasties fall. Centuries and aeons pass. But never a smile lights up inscrutable face of time,(text). Most of the time plot revolves around the protagonist and reveal the past condition of Delhi from 1857 to 1911. When Mir Nihal saw the coronation ceremony he remembered:
“as ten-year old boy the mutiny of 1857 when their relations were killed by the British soldiers ruthlessly and their houses were demolished and destroyed, property looted, residents turned out and their emperor bahadur shah cruelly dethroned. All this he could never forget and consequently , he had been smouldering with rage in his soul.”
The deep study of the novel delineates that the historical study and individual study went side by side. Further we can say it shows the life by time and life by values. Throughout the whole novel we heard the uneven life of Mir Nihal and Delhi, that was built by Shah Jahan. The novel is not a mere sad commentary on the plummeting of Mir Nihal and the city, as it also records the inevitable disillusionment of human beings. The major crack in the life of Mir Nihal is the proposal of his son with Bilqeece. It is totally difficult for a man who brought up in the four walls of class and blood, to change his entire values . In the beginning, Begum Nihal also reluctant to give her consent to marry a low- born but son’s threat of commiting suicide ,bowed down her but Mir Nihal vehemently protests to her:
“you don’t want to bring a low born into the family”
But neither Mir Nihal nor begum Nihal can change the sweeping winds of change . Mir Nihal’s life can be considered as the account of a disillusioned man. His attempts to build a small personal world within the world, which in a way is also everyone, desperate attempt to live, life is as per one’s dreams in the face of the apathy of ate. The splendid past and the aristoaratic habits hie hard in Mir Nihal, it seems that he wants to live in his own private world, his belief on his supremacy sustains himself ,to keep going.
Mir Nihal’s pigeon flying hobby testifies to his determined will to hold on living his life despite the vagaries of time. His zealous attempts to safeguard his hobby further substantiates this. His attempts to excel in the game of pigeon calling props up his sagging ego.
Babban Jan is another character who was not his wife but a person who gives him solace:
“his wife was there no doubt, and so were the children. But the world they lived in was a domestic world ……. Here at Babban Jan’s he had built a quiet corner for himself where he could always retire and forget his sorrows in its secluded peace”
The hobby of pizeons flying and Babban Jan both have great meaning in the life of Mir Nihal his unsatisfied sexual appetiate often create disturbance in his marital life. Sometimes we have found Mir Nihal with the maid servent Dilchain. His unfullfillment and emptiness is the recurring motf of this novel. The beating of the cat show his helplessness and anger towards fate. “the cat gave a piercing how and instinctively rushed to the door of a staircase …he beat her until he was tired and the cat looked dead …but something within him died; and he did not go to the shop that day.
After these incidents he gave up his normal life and hope for death”…yet death was alive and would come to him too and free him from misery and care.
His agony is also around when he saw the coronation of the king George v. his deep rooted association with Delhi makes him greive over the fate of Delhi .
“there it was that the Hindu kings had built the early delhis, hasthinapur or Delhi, and still in mahroli stands the iron piller as a memory of Asoka and other of the day of India’s golden age; and dynasties greater than history has ever known today it was this very Delhi which was being despoited by a western race who had no sympathy with India or her sons…
Asgher seemed revolutionary because he lead life in his own mordern English style. In the relay race of life, asgher is too busy to take note of the fate of a way side player. The ever enchanting charms of life cast their spell on asger too.
Asger seemed on seventh heaven when he realized that his dream of marrying Bilqeece came true, without prior apprehension about her sexual coldness. By the time he align himself from her and the feelings of the others.
“yet he was not so much in love with her as with his own self, his own dreams and illusions which he had created in his mind”.
Asghar also failed to sympathise with the dancing girl Mushtari Bai with whom he dallied for sometime. Mushtaribai bemoans her fate and said
I am like a caravan-serai where people come, rest their tried bodies for a while and depart… my life is a desert in which no oases exist.
The whole episode shows the disillusionment and decay of the novel and its character .
After marriage there is a gulf of disillusionment increased between Asger and Bilqeece. Asgher become father of jahan ara and she is like a change in his kife asgher had become indifferent his dreams had come to an end and he did not find his wife so charming as he had done over a year ago.
Both husband and wife are in agony but Bilqeece, ugony end when she died as a tube regular. She feels that world is falling to pieces all around her and in the midst of the debris she stoot without a friend or sympethises all alone.
Bilqeece’s deste made him sad he feel that he is responsible for her death; so Jahan Ara not able fill the blank but Asgher has fallen for the charms of Zohra who knew well what is sex and how to attract men. So asgher wanted to marry her but his desire remained unfulfilled.
It seemed that he is like his father who spend his life in a living death condition.
The seventh Delhi is swiftly declining and Mir Nihal a well built and tall man with noble and magestic face, dwindled into the status of a complete wreck.
He is totally defected and never able to bring the piece of mind. He can’t able maintain the glories of Delhi.
He is a mate spectator who see with his own eyes the decline of Delhi. He is hard put to be a fatelist and be reconcited with his situation “but who would cry against the ravages of time which has destroyed Ninevah and Babylon, carthage as well as Rome.
To have seen what he has seen and his still being alive, seems to the “bane” for Mir Nihal.
He lays on his bed more dead than alive, too broken to think even of the past…his world had fallen to pieces all around him smothered by indifference and death. Yet he was still alive to mope like as owl, and count his days the ultimate anguish of mir nihal may be best matched by aurengzeb,s as “envisaged” by khushwant singh in his novel “Delhi” a novel both auragzeb and mir saheb are two zealows protector of their respective empires. In khushwant singh is novel, Aurangzeb is on his death bed and is sour and sad, not because of the fast approaching death, but with the augurs of his closely guarded empire, and with him sence of unfulfillmant.
So the whole novel twilight in Delhi shows the two characters first the city Delhi and second Mir Nihal, both seemed in decay throughout the whole Novel.