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of all the things used to describe

delhi/dilli/दिल्ली, I’d call it

— the crossbred offspring

of the numerous rulers from the Sultanate, Mughals, the Angrez Sahibs

and placid poetry of Mir and Ghalib.

a candle-like queen that never sleeps.

*

her hand opens and closes and opens and closes,

to give and to hold

if it were always to give or always to hold

she would lose everything.

she would have nothing but an inception

of desire for riches— (a gaddi to the dils khazana)

describing a revolt, a refuge, and ranks.

*

on a sunday morning, light dawns,

the sidewalks of daryaganj and nai sarak transforms

into a book abode— preloved things find a new home.

and every proof of movement

— the sound of the hawkers selling magazines and books, that they can’t read

autos and rickshaws that feed stomachs of hungry families

and the infamous symphony of horns

resembles the countless creases of

a dhobi’s thumb from washing clothes for too long

*

Mughals’ visit recreated her.

sometimes she feels grateful for this rule

that brought such a mouthwatering gleam, she says

when her other friends ask her

about food and aromas that rise from every nook and corner.

*

midnight, and the gentleness of the city turns to a dangerous love affair

everything else is an echo, ready to lead you to brothels.

Delhi is this waterlogged romance that overflows near the red-light district,

with the cold and dark of a society labeled with money.

*

drunkenly asleep, Delhi has a history of being clouded

with grief and encountering a life(full/less) sky,

— a sky that some people have

but don’t want and some people

want but don’t have.

*

of all the things Delhi is,

she is (now) a woman that drapes the pride and the shame

around her neck

knowing that it gladdens and saddens her, identically.

sometimes she is ashamed of the violence

her children show against each other,

in that devastating moment, she has no motherly love.

but what is being two beings without being

a continuous candle flame?

हर लम्हा इसमें जीना, मुक्कदर की बात है।

Written by: Tanisha Handa

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