We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself. It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.
This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam, and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.
This is the fifth post in the series, by DUNU ROY
Shehernama: DUNU ROY
सीने में जलन आँखों में तूफ़ान सा क्यूँ है
इस शहर में हर शख़्स परेशां सा क्यूँ है
Twenty-fifth March 2020 marked yet another step forward in the emergence of a strong-arm State in India. An unprecedented lockdown began on that day; a draconian net of control and supervision descending on a people deeply divided, restive about one issue after another, plagued by an economy that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer, and now struck with the double whammy of a virus running amok with the State engineering a siege. Within a week, with work evaporating, savings running out, and stomachs clamouring for nourishment, the great exodus also began. In cities and towns across the land workers launched the long trek back home, dragging trolleys, head-loading baggage, carrying the very young the very old and the very sick, and evading – as best they could – a rampant police. The song from the 1978 film Gaman (Departure) strikes a wailing echo to the rhythm of purposeful feet – “Burning chests and stormy eyes; what ails all in this city”?
What is this city which gives birth to such imaginations?