The Struggle over Memory:
In “Twilight in Delhi” memory is seen both as source of personal identity and as a burden preventing to attain happiness. Each character is involved in a struggle to remember but more importantly in a struggle to forget certain aspects of their past. Mir Nihal the protagonist of the Novel wants to seek refuge in the past. He wants to live in past not is present. The other characters, like Begum Nihal, Begum Jamal and the elder sons of Mir Nihal, all of them found in struggling condition. The grandeur and wonderful Muslim’s past, in which they were rulers not wipe out from Mir Nihal and his family’s mind, like Asgher seemed rebellious but in the end of the Novel he was caught in the trap of cruel and remorseless fate. The city “Delhi” had faced the rise and fall of many Kings and princes like a poet said.
Delhi which was once the Jewel of the world,
Where dwelt only the loved ones of Fate,
Which has now been ruined by the hand of time,
I, m a resident of that storm-tossed place . . . .
But now the present scenario has impolitely changed people who were rulers now they are under the domination of colonial forces. So Mir Nihal like madam Ranevsky in “The cherry orchard” is not able to forget the grandeur of past his management, attitude and behavior in his family totally reflect the king like way as Moghals did in past. He never able to comprehend the change in his own family when Asgher showed his consent to marry Bilqeece ,the problem solved and every thing happened according to his will. Ahmad Ali showed all the characters and especially Mir Nihal in a struggling position ,the whole family and the surrounding area’s people never able to came out from the memory of their glorious past.
Modernity VS The Old India
With the arrival of the British colonial forces in the sub-continent every thing had changed .people who were habitual in living under the kings of were not able to face a change which as far as British was concern a change which civilize the Brutes. the major character or the protagonist of the Novel Mir Nihal never able to compensate with the new traditions. Britishers gave change to their style of living and the government structure but he wants to live according to the past like Ahmed Ali relate is part 4 chapters 4.
“New ways and ideas had come into being a hybrid culture which had nothing in it of the past was forcing itself upon Hindustan a wedge-people of Indian and Western ways which he failed to understand. The whole culture of India was a mixture of too cultures the new generation want to adopt the English culture like in the beginning of the Novel Asgher’s first appearance was in wearing English shirts and Mir Nihal scolded on it His sudden anger on him showed his hatred and non-accomodateable attitude towards and modernity.”
He was a backward person like in the mid-end of the Novel the episode when he try to gave punishment to the children he said to Dilchain that you go and took my sword and he took his sword and children seemed terrified not in real sense, this shows that he did not left the past, but he did not want to think about it.
Sense of diffidence:
Sex is the most important theme of the novel. Mir, Asgher and all the women characters in the Novel were sexually suppressed figures. Mir Nihal, a tall hand some and energetic man, desperately wanted a women who knew well the art of sex and the art of capturing man. So Babban Jan, a young girl gave him all these pleasures and when she died his whole world deranged. He felt a kind of flux in his life, which cannot be full-filled. He had also sexual relations with Dilchain (His Maid) and when she got pregnant Begum Nihal surprised to hear this that she is not a married one and her quarrel with Mir Nihal shows that Mir Nihal,s sexual appetite was not satiated from Begum Nihal.
If we look at Delhi’s society we came to know that most of the male society went to prostitutes and when they became habitual of them then they were not accommodate with their wives because they were not well-versed in the art of capturing man through sex. So most of the men had not time for their wives.
Asgher was also one of them who went to prostitutes like Mushtari Bai. She was a young girl; beautiful, fascinating and charming girl. Asgher often went to her Kotha and became habitual of her. But when he saw Bilqeece he bewitched by her extreme beauty. He desperately wants to marry her and after huge amount reluctance from Mir Nihal he succeeds to marry with her. But he feels that she lack sexual understanding. So Bilqeece can not able to feel the gulf between them. It wasn’t her fault because in Indian culture mostly the women spent her youth in the four walls of Zennana where no male allowed enter in it. So she can’t able to understand why her husband left her in the house for weeks. But begum shahbaz felt the actual problem or the cause which create the gulf. She quarreled with him But Asgher not able to manage the whole issue.
The whole Mir Nihal, s family represent the Muslim class of India and throughout India they have the same life style. Men often satiate their sexual appetites to go to the prostitutes and women remained ignorant because they had no knowledge about what is going on there.
Passing away of Muslim civilization in India
One of the Major themes is the passing away of Muslims civilization in India. Twilight in Delhi basically showed the decay of Mughal Kingship or the Muslim civilization.
Muslims ruled on India from many centuries but with the arrival of Britishers, the whole civilization had faced a huge set back. Mir Nihal, who lived in the illusions of splendid past, not able to accommodate with the present condition. His appearance and attitude represent the Muslims community of that time. Which not bale to live according to the changed conditions because they felt that this is the most humiliating condition for the Muslims.
Like Niven says
“Despite the rhapsodic treatment of Asgher’s love Bilqeece (Ali’s own wife is called Bilqeece), the autumnal mood at the Novel’s close the grief-stricken regrets for the Mughal past and the frequent coherence in his prose style, Ali writes less from a romantic than a classic stand point. He recognizes the immutability of the basic elements in human life individual remains the same in every age.”
Yet classicism in so far as it refers to recognition of the permanence of the change brought about by the passing of time is perhaps the intention of the Novel’s plot.