“NIGHTFALL IN THE CITY OF HYDERABAD” By Sarojini Naidu

See how the speckled sky burns like a pigeon’s throat,
Jeweled with embers of opal and peridote.

See the white river that flashes and scintillates,
Curved like a tusk from the mouth of the city-gates.

Hark, from the minaret, how the muezzin’s call
Floats like a battle-flag over the city wall.

From trellised balconies, languid and luminous
Faces gleam, veiled in a splendor voluminous.

Leisurely elephants wind through the winding lanes,
Swinging their silver bells hung from their silver chains.

Round the high Char Minar sounds of gay cavalcades
Blend with the music of cymbals and serenades.

Over the city bridge Night comes majestical,
Borne like a queen to a sumptuous festival.

Apart from the dreamy quality of Sarojini’s verse, what I find interesting about this poem is the local color of the imagery which becomes appealing to someone like me who lives in Hyderabad. The white river of Musi may not be flashing and scintillating any more, the river now being a stinking cesspool of the city’s overflowing filth. At least one can imagine the trellised balconies and the luminous faces that gleam ,veiled in voluminous splendor .No longer do leisurely elephants wind through the winding lanes swinging silver bells in their silver chains .The muezzin’s call is still there but the gay cavalcades are replaced by political processions with stone throwing mobs.

The speckled sky still burns like a pigeon’s throat jeweled with embers of opal and peridote when you watch the Charminar from the Mecca Masjid’s pigeoned courtyard. The place is now out of bounds for photographers, a divine place for a dusk photograph. If we cannot experience the joy of an evening there, let us live it down the poet’s memory of the times when there were no security concerns.