Brick by brick, Intizar Hussain finely constructs Delhi in Dilli Tha Jiska Naam, his own Dillinama. His characters are at times mythical, at others real. For every Yudhishthir, Krishna, demon and djinn there is a Khusro, Razia, Mir and Ghalib. And then there is our master craftsman himself, reminiscing about his times in Dilli; weaving his characters and contexts in a single beautiful whole.
The story that begins in Indraprastha travels in time through Lalkot, Tughlaqabad, Dinpanah, Firauzabad and Shahjahanabad to Lutyen’s New Delhi. The tale of each period unfolds through anecdotes like Anangpal Tomar’s fascination with the iron pillar, Razia’s romance with an Abyssinian slave and the tussle between Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and Hazrat Nizamuddin. This chronological journey soon brings us to Shahjahanabad-one of the grandest medieval cities.
It is here that Intizar Sahab leaves us in the scenic Jama Masjid Chowk to smell the kebabs, witness cock fights, pigeon and kite flying contests and delve into the magical world of Amir Hamza. While these enchantments leave us craving for more, Intizar Sahab walks us through the numerous gali-kuchas and bazaars, khanqahs and the havelis. In the bazaars we see the finest of cloth, dry fruits, sweets, exotic birds and so on. We also listen to the riddle-laden calls of the street vendors, hear the songs of different seasons and occasions, and celebrate eid, diwali, holi and navroz with the Dilliwallas. The first three and the remaining twenty odd chapters depicting the chronology of various cities of Dilli and different themes respectively, string the plot together. And yet, each chapter stands on its own making an interesting read in itself.