Indian Resentment of British Rule

Ahmed Ali's novel Twilight in Delhi relates that during preparations for the coronation of George V, many of the inhabitants of Delhi look forward to the celebrations with anticipation, but Begam Nihal, the matriarch, complains:

"When the Mughal kings used to go out rupees and gold mohurs were showered by the handfuls. What will these good-as-dead Farangis give? Dust and stones!" (139), and later when she hears that one of the pavilions burnt down, she "cursed the English, feeling happy with the news. 'It's God's vengeance falling on these good-as-dead Farangis,' she said. 'May they be destroyed for what they have done to Hindustan. May God's scourge fall on them.'

"And then she began to relate how ruthlessly Delhi had been looted by them at the time of the 'Mutiny,' and the Mussalmans had been turned out of the city, their houses demolished and destroyed and their property looted and usurped by the 'Prize Agency'; and the city was dyed read with the blood of princes and nobles, poor and rich alike who had happened to be Mussalmans. . .

"All this, and more, had not been forgotten by Mir Nihal and his wife and the others; they all burned with rage and impotent anger, for they could do nothing. . . ." (141-142; ellipses in original).

Another character, "looking ill and sad with memory," similarly complains: "Yesterday we were the owners of horses and elephants, slaves and territories. But they usurped our throne, banished the king, killed hundreds of princes before these unfortunate eyes which could not even go blind, drank their blood, and we could do nothing" (143).

How do you react to this character's mourning for the time when her people had slaves, since removed by the British?


Ahmed Ali, Twilight in Delhi (first published 1940), Karachi: Oxford UP, 1984.

[Postcolonial] [Indian Subcontinent] India OV Politics