Themes of “Twilight in Delhi”

  • January 24, 2022
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What are the major themes explored by Ahmed Ali in the novel Twilight in Delhi.

Ahmed Ali is a classical writer and like his work,his themes are also classic. Twilight in Delhi, at the same time, is a historical, classic, romantic and reality based novel. The undeniable elements of colonialism are described in detail and through them,the writer uncovers the condition of people, spending life under colonialism. Before discussing about the themes, first of alllet me tell you the definition of theme. If we talk in simple words, theme is a centralidea, topic or subject of a literary work. No literature can be completed without the usage of the technique of theme. In other words, it is a scheme, used by the writer to describe points about central idea of his work. When we talk about successful writers in using themes, definitely Ahmed Ali can never be ignored. As far as the themes explored by Ahmed Ali in “Twilight in Delhi” are concerned, the novel contains more than one themes, giving it a touch of freshness in every era.

First and foremost, theme of the novel is memory and past. Both these things are interlinked with each other in one way or the other. Every character, detailed in the novel,elucidatesthis specific theme. We find Mir Nihal, the protagonist of novel, thinking about the days, he spent in his past. He finds them good and beautiful days of his life but with the passage of time, he misses those days and most oftime, he spent in thinking about the earlier days of his life. Even, his wife Begum Nihal seeks refuge in older living years. Not only these people but also other persons, around their vicinity, think and talk about the former days of their lives. “Twilight in Delhi” is neither a story of a boy and girl nor it is about a single person but the story of the downfall ofentire Muslim civilization in subcontinent whom peace was going to be disturbed by the monarchy of British people. Thus, people found reconciliation and pleasure by remembering their happiest days as those days were totallyfree from restlessness. Similarly, Asghar Ali also thinks about the period, which he spent in her sister’s house. Those days are still in his consciousness and he could not get rid of them no matter how much efforts he is doing to forget them. Hence, memory and past can be considered an important them of the novel.

The second theme in the list is “Sex”. Every character, in this novel, especially male characters, are involved in sex. When we talk about the characters, definitely Mir Nihal being protagonist of novel comes in our minds. He is possessor of manly qualities and therefore passes his time in sex. He did not find any disgust in matingwithout having any relationship. He has illicit relations with prostitutions and even with his maid. When Begum Nihal finds her maid pregnant, without marriage, he stunned shocked. Sex was the only reason that Mir Nihal, after the death of Baban Jan became upset. Similarly, Mushtari Bai is the name of pleasure for Asghar to fulfill his sexual desires. We find, every person, living in that era involved in sex, less with their wives but more with prostitutions. They could not get asmuch pleasures from their wives asmuch they acquire from the prostitutions. Their wives did not know such tactics, which were the need of hour for the women of that civilization and only prostitutions had command on these tactics. We find Mir Nihal and his son finding sanctuaryon Kotha. It seems that whenever they feel sad or get bored, they go for sex atKotha, where they find a good prostitutes to console them. Example of AsgharAli is the sign that the teenagers were also not different from mature ones. Repeated denial of his father from his marriage with Bilqees forces him to go on Kotha and have some consolations from prostitutions. The beauty of Bilqees fascinated Asghar and eventually when he gets her and solemnizes marriage with her, he finds her as classic and traditional as other women of his society. She could not give expected sexual pleasures to Asgharas he get from prostitutes, especially from Mushtari Bai. It is not love, due to which, Asghar wants to get married with Bilqees but fascinated beauty of her to achieve his sexual desires. In this backdrop, Sex can also be listed as theme of this novel.

Another theme, which is worthwhile to mention here that, is the downfall of Muslim culture, civilization and values. We find the end of all these values after the British colonialism. Muslims kingship was near to end and they could do nothing but to see each other’s miserable condition. Their mental condition was more gruesome than their physical condition. Muslims had ruled the sub-continent for many centuries and it was the time of their set back. Not only their civilization was in danger but it was also the end of their valuable culture. In his son, Mir Nihalfinds asenselessnew generation. Asghar Ali is the symbol of hybrid culture, simultaneously, sharing the values of Muslims as well as the British culture. The charming lines of poets, the hobby of pigeon flying, the happiness of people in their gatherings, all was going to be finished and it was the time of twilight, when the fate of Muslims was hanging between two realms.They knew about the upcoming circumstances but they were helpless, as they could not take any step to change their fortune.

With these observations, we find this novel having more than one theme. After reading it, no one can stop himself to appreciate Ahmed Ali’s thematic concept. He is classic and due to his themes, the novel have a touch of harmony in it. Sensations of the writer can be seen in these themes. The common thing in it is that every person living anywhere but under colonialism can share the same notion. Thus, in the light of above mentionedverdicts,it can be said that “Twilight in Delhi” have numerous themes but above discussed themes are significant so far as my point of view is concerned. Hence, they are not too much but they are rich in a sense that they uncover the subject of this literary work.

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