Blurb (as on Goodreads):
In September 1857, the Indian way of life changed forever, after the overnight downfall of the Mughal Dynasty, with the capture and exile of Bahadur Shah Zafar. This book, translated by Safvi, presents translations of four texts that talk about Dilli (today, Delhi) on the eve of the downfall and the fate of royalty following the uprising of 1857. Invoking nostalgia, chronicling both beauty and hardships, it is a gemstone to understand exactly how the royal household functioned and how it ceased to be.
City of my Heart is a collection of 4 stories, originally written in Urdu and later translated by Rana Safvi. The goal is to make us aware of the city that was once ‘Dilli’ and not the modern day ‘Delhi’. The author chose 4 stories that were published in the British Era, and these stories were amassed from people who had the first-hand experience of ‘Dilli’ and everything that made the city.
The stories talk about the climate there, the food people ate, the festivities and how everyone had a larger than life lifestyle. The coexistence of Hindus and Muslims has also been mentioned time and again. Bot what is common in the majority of these stories is the rise of Delhi during the Mughals who ruled India with Delhi as their home base.
We get to know how each festival was celebrated with pomp and show. The emperor was kind enough to grace his presence in these festivals and also celebrate Diwali and other Hindu festivals. The book is all about lost glory and equality and how Delhi has morphed into something toxic and warlike.
This is a book that non-fiction lovers will devour because there is so much to learn and know. The translation, however, feels a little weak. I would have enjoyed the original text more than the translated one but nevertheless, this book is definitely enlightening and full of reverence for the ‘Dilli’ our generation will never know.
** A Huge thanks to Hachette India for providing me with a copy. All opinions are my own**