Dilli of My Heart
A prequel to ‘On Reading’
royal blue anarkalis with golden brocade work,
heirloom gold jewelry softly kissing the swan-like necks and dainty wrists,
fingers laden with antique rings that were once the pride of a queen’s dowry,
mang tikas glittering just above the bindi,
on the center of a soft brown forehead.
dark eyebrows, kohl-rimmed coffee-black eyes,
cheeks softly blushing because of the eye contact
with the Shahzada standing across the room.
lips wine-red from the anaaj sharbat,
full with a til on the underside.
it is the phoolwalon ki sair
and Dilli is all decked up
like a bride on her wedding night.
marigolds and jasmine garlands
stark against black hair in buns and braids,
and a whiff of attar, arousing passion
in the Shahzada who passes by.
the nosepin that falls on your lips is a temptation.
a sight to behold.
and you are a queen holding court.
amidst jewels and flowers.
A Brief Historical Note:
Dilli — a colloquial pronunciation of Delhi
Anarkalis — a type of traditional attire for women in which the top is a flowing frock-like garment
Mang tikas — a type of jewelry worn on the forehead
Bindi — a circle of colour paint drawn on the forehead for decorative purposes
Shahzada — a prince
Anaaj — pomegranate
Til — a mole
Phoolwalon ki sair — literally the ‘procession of the florists’, this is an age-old secular festival (from the days of the Mughal Emperors until today), where Muslim and Hindu florists alike led a procession to Yogmaya Temple, and then to the Dargah of Sufi saint, Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki. Spanning over three days, these flower sellers pray for a better flower season in the coming year. It is held in September.
Attar — non-alcoholic perfumes in oil form, attar is sourced from botanical oils of flowers, herbs, and spices.
Nayanika Saikia graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and was also a Dean’s List student. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree. At the moment, she is working as a Booktuber, blogger, and reviewer with various national and international publishers. She can often be found on her Instagram account Pretty Little Bibliophile.