Remembering My Time in Delhi: How the Place Breathes in My Heart


Everyone sees a different version of a polis, and people who have dreamed about a specific one learns that the city stays no matter how far they are from it. It is said that to remember everything is not a boon, but maybe bane. There are many ways of reminiscing about something, but I remember the history of Delhi in how I held my best friend's hand in the Hauz Khas fort that is mostly now in ruins but still breathes its story in the vicinity of a modern restaurant and old houses. I can imagine the inhabitants coming out in their balconies and thinking about how love stays in different forms, and I am sure they will blow a sigh of relief when they see the moon shining just above the lake, making them believe that there is some part, if not all, of heaven on this earth. There is a certain comfort in familiarity. And that is why I like talking about my best friend more than anyone else, especially when she comes from the city I am talking about here.


When you love something too much, you grieve about it more. Leaving Delhi felt like that, like getting something you have always wanted but leaving everything behind because of things you cannot do anything about. It is also true that the greater you grieve about something, the less you talk about it. So, I try not to mention how my heart aches for the city and its architectural beauty, like if there is something more beautiful than the moon and the shining sun on a rough day, it is the city's monuments. But it is not something that you talk about on the best days. Instead, I try to memorise all of the good days and keep them in my pockets, like how I miss seeing Humayun's tomb. Not many of us know that the same architectural masterpiece was a saviour for refugees in the partition times. As a student, I have always been fond of reading history. So, my tongue fluently remembers who built this astonishing piece of art. Every historical place has its memoir and a tragedy if you think of it. Dilli (Delhi) is no different. Rather, if you see it, the city has seen ruins and is getting built into the modern sphere better than anyplace else.

Words of Power and Resistance


I will only lie if I say that I do not have a clear picture of my every visit to a place in Dilli that speaks about itself while writing this, and how my heart aches not to appreciate the beauty of the city enough, that only tells stories like it is full of it, and yet if you look at it from outside, it seems empty. I remember going to the streets of Chandni Chowk in the month of April, and these streets shout their history. You do not have to do anything else but observe and listen. At times, the adornment of a place is not always about what used to be there but also about what is left still. And what is still left in Purani Dilli (Old Delhi) are stories, are its future to preserve itself, learn from the ruins and still make everyone fall in love with its history and resistance during the times of the modernity that the other parts of the city is witnessing with every turning page. I have never had the chance to visit the gigantic Jama Masjid and experience the peace there. But I have read in the books about it, and every book reads that the red sandstone and the white marbles make it what it is. Sometimes when we visit someplace, it leaves imprints in different ways. That is what these books say about one of the most beautiful mosques in the country. Ghalib had a profound love for Delhi, and everyone who has an attachment with the city somewhere deep inside their hearts will feel this when he said, "I asked my soul, 'What is Delhi?' It replied: “The world is the body, Delhi its soul."

 

 

Maybe I miss Delhi a little too much with every passing day because of the history that it tells. The place just grows on you, and sometimes, you need to just let it happen. Let yourself feel the words of writers and poets who have stayed in there, who have brought revolutions and who have brought changes. As I write this piece, I remember all the places that I have been in the city in the four months that I had the opportunity to be a part of its history. I carry them in my mouth so that when someone asks what Delhi looked like for me, I could tell them that if you can come close to loving a city and if you love words, and someone who knows to appreciate history, you will always long for it even if you have not lived there for a long time. The city finds its identity every passing day, with people on the streets raising their voices for what they believe in. Maybe it has always been like that. Perhaps that is why the city speaks about power, about inquilab and everything in between, and that too in its art, in its words, and in its togetherness with, "awaaz do, hum ek hai”(Call out together, We are united).

About The Author

Diksha Arya is a third-year student who writes poems, listens to sad songs, and loves to make people laugh. She is a cricket and football lover and daydreams about watching Lionel Messi play live in Barcelona. She loves having conversations, so if you have anything to talk about, ping me on Insta.