The twilight Delhi of the later Mughals, decadent in statesmanship, devastated by marauders, declining in history, still managed to leave behind something more durable than marble and sandstone: a magnificent body of Urdu poetry and prose.
It is this facet of the city that Mirza Farhatullah Baig Dehalvi captures in this unique literary work. Drawing upon living memory, manuscripts and other documents, he wrote Dehli ki Akhri Shama’, a fictional account of what purports to be the last great musha’irah held in Delhi under the patronage of Bahadur Shah ‘Zafar’, the last Mughal emperor. The narrative recreates for us the various stages of organizing such an occasion, introduces us to unforgettable people and now-forgotten places, and builds up to the climax—the musha’irah itself—at which all the important Urdu poets of the time are present.
The present volume is the first-ever English translation of Farhatullah Baig’s classic, accompanied by a long introduction, textual and other annotations, and extensive glossary. Much more than a work of translation, this is a labour of love and scholarship.
Mirza Farhatullah Baig was born of Mughal stock in Delhi. Educated at the Dehli Madrassah, Hindu College and St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, he was Director of Education in the State of Hyderabad. Later, he became the Registrar of the high court of Hyderabad. A distinguished writer and humorist, Baig’s essays are marked by their richness of imagination and informality of style. His pen-portraits are lively and sharp in characterisation. His language represents one of the best specimens of Urdu as spoken in Delhi.
Mirza Farhatullah Baig
Mughal Dehli—Shah Jahanabad
The Urdu Language
A Musha’irah in Dehli