Character-Sketch of Mir Nihal in "Twilight in Delhi"

Mir Nihal: Appearance
…. Mir Nihal comes in. He is tall and well built, and is wearing a white muslin coat reaching down to the knees, and an embroidered round cap is put at a rakish angle on his bobbed head. His white and well-combed beard is parted in the middle, and gives his noble face a majestic look…….
The whole physical description shows that he had a royal appearance with a sober style of wearing cloth .He is nearly a sixty –two year old person whose outward appearance is a picture of Muslims grandeur which they had in past. Ahmed Ali showed him as a “noble”. So it can be said about him that he is the representative of the royal Muslim class. his physical appearance has showed the same magnificence as Muslims had in past but inwardly he wasn’t able to comprehend the actual scenario .It seems that Ahmed Ali made this character before writing this novel ,there is no further scope for any fundamental change in it .

Passive character
The nature of this character is totally passive. He has only interest in life :His pigeons and his mistress Babban Jan . The passivity lies in his unreceptive mind in under standing the change in surroundings. He felt that he remained immortal as the Muslims thought in past that their dignity remained forever, but when the colonial forces came in the sub -continent they had changed the entire atmosphere. The matter of Asgher,s marriage is the most crucial moment in his life when he showed his refusal then the whole family turned against his decision,and it was the beginning of change.

I had never approved of Ashfaq’s marriage to Mirza Shahbaz’s daughter,’ Mir Nihal said angrily. ‘And I do not approve of Asghar’s friendship with Bundoo. Why don’t you stop him?’…..

But Mir Nihal not able to stop the change and a time came when the women of the family themselves decides to take step;

“The best thing to do is to settle the thing quietly .brother –in-law will come round in the end .if you wait for his consent nothing will ever come off……”

“Begum Nihal seemed to agree with her sister-in-law…”

The whole speech from begum Jamal has showed the courage to do something against Mir Nihal .The women in India has a subordinate position in certain matters like marriage etc. so they rebel against the authority.

Snake episode
“…. Mir Nihal has managed to catch hold of the snake’s tail, and pulling it out with all his force he jerks his hand backwards with a quick movement. The snake is seen flying in the air and the next moment Mir Nihal strikes it on the ground and leaves it. It lies there trying to move, but it is only the front half of the snake which is curling and twisting. The back half wriggles but cannot move forward. Its spine is broken. Taking the stick he crushes the hood, and wriggling and moving painfully for a while, it becomes motionless and dies……..
The whole episode shows this ability to deal with the danger from outside. He shows his anger on this little invasion but when his own son Asgher shows rebellious attitude then he not able to prove strong resistance because every thing worked against him.

Importance of Babban Jan :

Babban jan is the most important personality in Mir Nihal ,s life . She is the symbol of courage, love and hope in his life. He loved her from the core of his heart but her death destroyed him because

Like Ahmed Ali shows in these lines;

“Mir Nihal got up with a heavy heart and, giving the old woman some money, cast a last lingering glance at the dead body and walked away. She who was Babban Jan had gone,. She who brought him here had walked the way of death, and nothing could bring her back to life again . . ..”

He was nearly mentally disabled; he left everything because there was no one who gave him mental and sexual solace.

Pigeon’s death:

The death of pigeons is one of the severe blows to Mir Nihal. After he came to home and found the loft’s door open he got frightened but when he looked in it his whole world sunk because there were few pigeons left and others wings and scattered parts of the body were found here and there. So his whole world now reduced to dust. Pigeons, which were his treasure now killed by the outside forces (cat).

Cat imagery;

Cat is mostly a symbol of stealth, cunning and destruction in most of his writings. Ahmed Ali has used the cat in this novel to show the dominance of outside forces. He also identifies cat with the Britishers who have succeed in altering the old ways and they introduced the new progressive ideologies and mores .

Hatred against British

His hatred against the British or farangis is quiet obvious throughout the novel .most of the time he shows his contemptuous remarks about the British .like in the first part of the novel he said :

“You are again wearing those dirty English boots! I don’t like them. I will have no aping of the Farangis in my house. Throw them away! . . . And where have you been so late in the night? I have told you I don’t like your friendship with Bundoo. Do you hear? I shouldn’t find you going there again.’……”

A traditional Indian Muslim:

“Twilight in Delhi” is basically a novel about traditions and customs. The whole novel shows Mir Nihal family’s lives who were the staunch believers of traditions and customs. Mir Nihal, the head of the family and the protagonist of the novel ,is a traditional Indian Muslim who spend life with the same idea of grandeur and magnificence which the Mughals had in past ,he believed in caste system, and his negation of Asgher ,s marriage with Bilqeece is the proof of his belief on royal blood . His life is a typical Indian Muslim’s life who gave importance to the prostitutes not their wives because what he want his wife cannot able to give him.

Mir Nihal’s paralysis:
Mir Nihal’s paralysis is highly symbolical; it shows the paralyzed condition of the Muslims in the world of British colonial forces. Through out the whole novel he showed huge amount of resistance in adopting change and in the end time had restricted him in one place and the whole civilization had changed.

The world or the affairs of the family, his wishes are no consequence .formerly he wished to cry over the ups and the down s of life but In the end he does not even have the desire to do that. Asgher comes to him wearing English clothes but not even object. His body has already become paralyzed; his heart and the mind are atrophied as well. The spring of life now seemed to an end.

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