City Of My Heart by Rana Safvi
City of my heart, a new book by Rana Safvi, renders vivid insights into the life of royalty of Mughal dynasty during the time period of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor and what becomes of the royal family after the outbreak of the Sepoy mutiny of 1857.
The book is the collection of the extracts of four books originally written in Urdu language about the twilight years of the Timurid dynasty in India translated beautifully by the author Rana Safvi.
Time is a Powerful Force
There is a popular saying that no one is untouched by the wheel of time and when it spins the fate changes instantly. In the matters of second the entire scenario changes. A king could become a beggar. A beggar could become a millionaire. It seems Rana Safvi has selected the chapters for the book based on this theme.
1st Two Chapters
The first two chapters of the book Dilli ka Aakhri Deedar (The Last Glimpse of Delhi) by Syed Wazir Hasan Delhvi and Bazm-e-Aakhir (The Last Assembly) by Munshi Faizuddin highlights the hue and hay days of Mughal dynasty.
The Emperor and his wives along with 16 sons and 30 daughters, extended family and relatives led an opulent and splendid life. They were surrounded by servants who were ever ready to meet all their needs and demands. None of the princes or princesses were aware of the suffering of life. The epitome of luxury was apparent from the meals which consist of more than 100 dishes in platter.
Time Never Remains The Same
But time never remains the same. The princes and princesses who were in the lap of luxury and have seen milk and honey all their growing years had to face the brunt of changing fate. The Revolt of 1857 became tipping point in their life which pushed them towards the miserable life of poverty and impoverishment.
Last Two Chapters
The last two chapters in the book City of My Heart: Qila-e-Mu’alla ki Jhalkiya’n (Glimpses of the Exhalted Fort) by Arsh Taimuri and Begamat ke Aansu (Tears of the Begums) by Khwaja Hasan Nizami portrays the suffering of royalty at the hands of British troops. Many princes were killed in cold blood and the one who survived lived a life which was no better than that of a vagrant.
Something New To Read
City of my Heart will make you acquaint with the untold part of the Mughal history. In schools, you must have studied just about Bahadur Shah Zafar being captured by Britishers and banished to Rangoon. This was the epilogue of the Muhgal dynasty in India.
The thought what would have become of Princes and Princesses never crossed my mind and also didn’t find any mention in the text books.
There are many books written on Bahadur Shah Zafar. All of which concentrate on the last ruler and political impact of Sepoy mutiny on the country.
My Thoughts on Selection and Translation
The translation was of top notch. The author has done a terrific job and the essence of the original work was not lost.
But the second chapter seems to be a mere repetition of the first chapter. Both the chapters furnish the same details about the hue and hay days of the royal family when they lived a life truly king size. I failed to decipher the reason behind selecting two similar chapters for the book.
Also, I found the first two chapters tad bit boring to read. It was more like reading running commentary about the retinue, finery, food and grandiose which they flaunt.
The last two chapters, when fate turns the tables, were actually interesting to read. There were many tales and anecdotes shared about the misery which surviving royal members endured and their melancholy and everyday struggle for survival was so perceptible.
Overall, the book could be a good read for anyone who holds interest in this part of the history or doing research on the life of Mughal royals.
For others like me, the last two chapters hold the key to interest. I was intrigued to read about the twist in the fate in the life of these Mughal Princes and Princesses. Alas, nothing in this world is permanent. When there is rise, the fall is also inevitable.