A short story by Maaz Bin Bilal

A short story by Maaz Bin Bilal

How unfortunate is Zafar that for his burial,
He could not get two yards of land among friends.

Usman Bhai, born c 1942, became “Aanun” sometime in 1985. This renaming at the ripe age of forty-three happened organically. Usman became Aanun with the first, innocent lisping calls of three-year-old Muneeza.

Muneeza is the first (much later to be discovered, second) daughter of Hilal Ahmed. At the time of the renaming she was a healthy, plump child with rosy cheeks. Little Muneeza lisped and babbled in manner where all words began with the “a” sound, and other consonants could be dropped. So, her father’s cigarettes were “iggettes”, dates were “ajur” and Usman became “Aanun.”

And the name stuck. At least in our extended family. It was at once endearing, respectful, and suitably diminutive.

I was born into the name, and only much later discovered that Aanun actually had a different name in the records, which was also his given name.

That too from the mighty Arabic, and for one of the most important companions of the Prophet. Usman Ibn Affan had been one of the first followers of Muhammad and was among the earliest converts to Islam. He became the third caliph of the Islamic world after Muhammed’s death.

Our father was no prophet, yet Aanun was his companion par excellence, a man Friday, an inherited family servant who had worked for us definitely from the time of my grandfather, but possibly from the time of my great-grandfather.

And, indeed, Aanun was a man of the Old World order. Feudal as it were. Among the many orders that continue to exist and make comebacks in this country, far from Arabia. Ours was one such, in the great tradition of Shahjahanabad.

Aanun was its product and flagbearer. A Dilli-wallah to the core, claiming an ancestry of four hundred years in the city. Nothing very high up the order, but enough to be recognised as a Shah-bu, the lingering “scent of the Shahs.”

He had a beaming smile, with a mouth full of well-arranged (if yellow) teeth, and a sharp aquiline nose. In his youth he had practised kushti, and he would stall practice pehelwani in moderation wearing a langot, a sight of mirth for us kids when we would stumble upon him exercising at his home. And he retained his old-school (not modern, gym-toned) body-builder’s physique à la Dharmendra into his middle-age. I always felt Aanun had Dharmendra’s looks too, although everyone else to whom I would mention this would disagree, their comparison usually leant closer to Dara Singh.

Aanun had a deep penchant for flying kites and would use our terrace as his base.

Our home, which had been carved out of the barsati of a small haveli, was still among the highest in the neighbourhood in those days. As the house was one of the few in the area to have a cellar, it meant that the roof of our first floor barsati pretty much towered over the neighbouring houses as late as my early childhood in the mid-nineties, after which all the neighbouring small holdings began to pile floors on top to accommodate increasing family size. Our house feels like a well or a pit now from where we look up to boys on higher terraces looking at us as if looking down from higher land.

But back then, it was still the ideal hunting ground for Aanun. He was a reasonably good kite-flier and would compete equally ferociously with the many kite-flying savants of his age, as well as the young Turks, some of them barely seven years of age. He tried to train me also, but Ammi gave a straight no. The roof was out of bounds in the Old Delhi world to fearful mother’s children, as a few kids a year did run off terraces chasing kites, not realising where the parapet beneath their running feet ended with their eyes glued to the wavering fortunes of the kites in the skies.

While he loved flying kites, and was reasonably good at it, cutting many a kite away with his quick steering, what satisfied Aanun most was looting others’ cut-away kites, and storing them away a big stash in one of our store rooms or kotharis which he would sell off in a big bunch later to some mighty young bidder, usually right before Independence Day when demand was highest. In some years, he would be heartbroken when the kites got wet because of seepage, or a cat got to them and tore them up while making its bed on a cold night, having broken through the crumbling wooden doors of the kothari.

Aanun did teach us eagle-feeding from our terrace.

As I later discovered these too really were kites, the Indian Black Kites to be precise, but at that time they all belonged to the generic “cheel” for us. Cheap offal meat, mainly lung, would be bought, and then you had to play catch with yourself for a while, flinging the meat pieces high into the air, shouting “aao”, if you were up for it.

Soon, you’d have a flock of them congregating above you (the dictionary tells me they are an eyrie, convocation, kettle, or roost, really). Once the kite had arrived, barely a single piece of meat thrown into the sky would fall back on your terrace (or your neighbour’s). The few times one did fall down was when two or more kites would dive and fight mid-air for the same morsel and neither would emerge a winner.

Aanun’s strong physique would come in handy not just to fling this flesh high into the sky, but also to massage my diabetic father’s aching muscles with olive or mustard oil. On rarer occasions, he would be beside my father as he would get into any argument in the mohalla. One such occasion I remember was when Abbu went to argue with the imam of the masjid next door to lower the volume of the loudspeakers blaring the azaan as my baby brother would wake up crying due to its noise every morning.

Yes, yes, there is only one god, but must it be proclaimed so loudly? – my baby brother had seemed to protest with his wails. While the imam barely lowered the volume, the rumour in the locality was that Hilal Sahab was against delivering the azaan. I doubt that Aanun’s presence had really helped either way. But he did seem to have quarrelled with those spreading such rumours in the area, and had given them a piece of his mind, “Right, now you’ll teach Hilal Sahab the matters of faith!”

When I was still younger, maybe five, Aanun gave me my first taste of the might and expanse of water too. He took me walking and for long periods sitting astride his broad shoulders from our Ballimaran house to the Old Jamuna Iron Bridge. From its middle I looked down to the then still-powerful and relatively cleaner Jamuna. Aanun pointed out the cones bobbing up and down to me as “jonk”, a word I later discovered was used to refer to most molluscs, with or without shells. But back then, these to my fantasy-filled imagination were blood sucking tikes who could come in Leviathan size in this monster of a river. It was probably the first practical dip into my curious, pre-Discovery Channel but post-Oxford Children’s Encyclopaedia mental ocean.

Urdu was not just Aanun’s mother-father tongue, but the creation of his ancestors.

And it remained his primary and almost only language, as he had dropped out of school after primary. While one could have a less elegant mother tongue, his was coloured by inherited wit and imbibed choice abuses from the karkhandari zubaan or the industrial tongue of the Western Uttar Pradesh post-Partition immigrants. Language had become a strange cockney of refined inheritance and bastardised and decadent degeneracy.

He would tell us that he was coming not with the usual “main aa raha tha” but the karkhandari “aa riya tha”. Au contraire, on other occasions, even the tap and water supply got respectful verb forms used for them, as when he’d say the water supply was on as “nal aa rahe the.” He also spoke to us kids with utmost curtesy and delicacy at my father’s behest, and we were always referred by the honorific pronoun of “aap”.

I often wondered why he was so attached to my Abbu. In theory he was our servant and got his two meals from my mother’s dastarkhan. His salary always remained a measly pittance, even though he alternated between butler, errand-boy, chef, dishwasher, nanny, guard, doorkeeper, kind uncle, playmate, storyteller, masseur, native informant, cleaner, strongman, companion, junk-and-scrap gatherer-seller, pre-digital-bill-payer, electrician, plumber, carpenter – and apprentice to these last three, when my father would choose to don these hats in the house.

He had relatives. Many siblings even. But he wouldn’t deign to look at their faces. My mother informed me that his mother had remarried when his father had died and since then he had never gone back to his family. Instead, he had come to work for my great-grandfather. Aanun had wavered in and out of employment with us in the initial phase, sometimes getting into a construction business using the small inheritance from his father. He would work as a sub-sub-contractor for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to build latrines.

Amidst all this flux, one part of his family that he was in touch with, surprisingly, was his uncle’s, even as didn’t speak to his mother all her remaining years or ever to his siblings. Or maybe, it shouldn’t be so surprising after all, since home is where the heart is. Aanun was in love with his first cousin, a perfectly permissible thing in Islam and most desirable in many Old Delhi families. And sometime around the time that he was 30, and she was 25, he managed to convince her to marry him. For Aanun, this was a teenage dream come true.

Aanun moved in with his new wife into a capacious two-bedroom apartment in Gali Babbu Khan.

Romance was now to be consummated in marital bliss which had found its perfect abode. The building was, like many Old Delhi homes, a much larger house that had been divided many times over its life into smaller and still smaller apartments with a room or two to each, very rarely more.

These would often comprise the living quarters of large families. Narrow winding corridors on each floor led to haphazardly laid out lodgings. Aanun’s house was easily accessed and good-sized as these houses go, with just the couple to live there, especially as it had a small open terrace to add to the two rooms.

This house was in stark contrast to the small kothri he had spent the last many years living on his own. The only advantage this last accommodation had had was that it was on the same landing as the doorstep of his then-cousin and now-wife. And now, of course, they were to share their bed in this new larger home, for happily ever after.

Sadly, this was not to be, not quite in the ways expected. The love that had driven Aanun all along was not returned. Aamna, his wife, had married him following tradition, the insistence of his father’s indomitable will, and looking at the money Aanun’s sub-sub-contractorship with the government was bringing in. But margins were thin in the business, especially when you were a sub-sub-contractor, and as the greed of officials grew evermore, there was only so much more grey sand Aanun could mix with the cement, unless the latrines were to sink into the ground along with the shit. Either his contracts or the latrines had to give way. As a man of moderate principles and some accountability that he felt towards Allah, Aanun gave up the contracts.

The loss of income accompanied the loss of the lucrative government employment, and with the loss of both emerged big cracks in the newly married home.

If for the want of a nail a war could be lost, the loss of an income was certainly not a trivial matter. Aamna Bi was illiterate, knew little besides a few surahs of the Qur’an by rote to recite to Allah, and worshipping the rings and necklaces of gold that were required objects in the service of Mammon. Pleasures of the flesh or matters of the heart had not mattered much to her ever. Her father no longer saw the point in having lost his domestic help, with his own wife having passed away many years ago. He had no other issue from his own marriage besides Aamna Bi, and luckily she had no issue of her own yet.

A summons was soon sent, as there could be no issues to bringing her back, surely. Aamna Bi packed her bags with the jewellery and clothes Aanun had showered on her and came back to her space of childhood familiarity. When even after a year Aamna Bi showed no signs of returning to her marital home, Aanun moved back to his old kothari along with his transistor radio, which in later years would be accompanied by a black and white TV, both to fit snugly on the wall-mounted shelves.

But Aamna Bi filed for divorce soon, asking for the return of a self-declared dowry and maintenance, after what she declared was an abusive marriage. He had little money left to pay off any alimony claims really, having spent much on the wedding and the bigger house down payment in the pagdi system where he remained a tenant but had to pay a big transfer amount (currently the big flat was sublet, which was the sole source of his income). With no wife and littler money, Aanun (still officially and unofficially Usman Bhai) returned to work for my grandfather at the school he had founded.

Our family occupation had been education for over a century already. While for most family it had assumed the theological mantle, my grandfather had moved to secular nation building post-Independence. Run with moderate means, with a low fee accepted from Old-Delhi’s Partition-and-poverty-struck populace, the school nonetheless required help, albeit proportionately low-paid, and so always had a place for a man such as Aanun – dedicated, resourceful, a man of the (local) world, but nonetheless modest, strong, and not a gold digger.

My father, a fashionable college dropout, a widely-acknowledged Sanjeev Kumar lookalike, with a Java bike between his legs, the reach of Delhi in his grasp, and Old Delhi society at his feet (I am told), of course needed a companion – a Watson to his Sherlock, a Robin to his Batman, a Birbal to his Akbar.

Aanun (still Usman Bhai, remember?) was a dapper assistant-friend. With fashionable bell-bottoms, jackets and blazers bought from the used-and-thrown-by-Whites clothes market at Meena Bazar, where his uncle had a shop, Aanun was always perfectly turned out for a bike jaunt to Mehrauli.

One such ride to Mehrauli gave birth to a famous anecdote of my father’s. Three bikes were out on that ride, ridden by his two close friends with Aanun riding pillion behind him. When Fardeen Uncle went riding in first and fastest at the intersection on the still lonely roads right before the monument, he was only to come out of it with a long bike slide, grazing his leg badly. Rafi Uncle riding close in chase followed in suit.

Abbu who was further behind had already seen the others fall to their miseries, and rode in much slower, gingerly crossing what appeared to be an oil slick, traversing it safely without a fall. But just as the bike had reached the end of the spill, Aanun decided it was time to celebrate the triumph, standing up from the moving bike in jubilation, with his feet planted firmly on the ground, sending Abbu and his bike in a disbalanced tailspin to yet another pitiful fall. Covered in muck, all three friends stared at him in amazement as Aanun yahooed in dry-cleaned celebration, shouting: “main bach gaya, I am safe”, waving his hands in the air.

In other situations, he fought alongside Abbu in the locality, in still others he fought on his behalf in his absence, while on occasion he fought against him.. Sometimes they would have a loud argument and he would leave, threatening never to return. After three or four days, he would be walk in sheepishly, and begin helping out with chores in the house as if nothing had changed.

By this time my father had married my mother who had extended a permanent invitation to Aanun to have his two meals a day with us. While in my grandfather’s time he had only worked at the school, now his butlership and Man Fridayness extended to our home.

Fishing was another pastime that Aanun shared with my father, even after his marriage. The Okhla Barrage was still clean enough for fish to thrive in and get caught in a fishing line. This leisurely fun was had till about the mid-eighties.

And as we three siblings were born, with my sister giving birth to “Aanun”, Aanun was began to shower us with love. I was the first grandson in the house, as my Dadi was still alive, and was pampered all around, although my sister as the first child held her own. The one memory I would have of my grandmother would be her feeding me rusks dunked in milk which seemed like a delicacy then but were probably best food for her toothless mouth.

Aanun’s special treats for me in my initial years, offered in the privacy of his kothari, a few paces from the doorstep of his separated wife, were dry bataashe with aalu and chhole inside, without the tangy or spicy jaljeera that would make them proper paani ke bataashe or gol-gappe. My spice tolerance as a child was low.

The divorce case went on and on, as is the wont of our courts. This one grew a long tail at Tis Hazari Court and Aanun wished to take me along for some sightseeing here too, but Ammi forbid it once more. In about a decade, Aanun’s separated wife managed to win divorce and damages, but Aanun filed an appeal at the “Harry Court,” as he’d call it.

Enough years went by for my younger brother to not just be born, but also be allowed to wander off on hot Delhi afternoons with Aanun, when it would be time for my parents’ siesta, my sister to be on the phone and for me to be glued to a book in my bed. On one such afternoon, Aanun showed Muawwiz a picture of himself carrying his wife in his arms. It was from their wedding night when he had carried Aamna Bi up two flights of stairs to their bedroom, in customary fashion.

Muawwiz had come back and, much to the mirth of us older siblings, filled us in on the picture he had seen and the song Aanun had sung to him while showing it: “sajan re jhoot mat bolo/khuda ke paas jaana hai/na haathi hai, na ghoda hai/wahaan paidal hi jaana hai…” (Don’t lie, my dear lover/ we must get to god soon/ there’s no horse, nor elephant/ we must get there on foot). Just the thought of this older, sombre man, singing romantic songs and carrying a woman in his arms, was incredibly hilarious to my preadolescent and my sister’s early teenage minds, even as my younger brother with a young child’s innocence had received and transmitted this experience with such docile pleasure only possible to certain gullible young babes.

My sister and I on the other hand were habituated to find much mirth around Aanun. Till a few years back, he used to pick us up from the school bus stop and bring us home. This short journey, on rickshaw or foot, would be filled with many escapades and hysterical incidents which were recounted amidst much laughter.

One such occasion I distinctly remember was when one hot summer afternoon, on our way home through Maliwara, Aapa and I were racing ahead and Aanun was huffing and puffing to play catchup, while carrying our two schoolbags on his shoulders. We zipped through the swarming crowd, sometimes going as far as to surge ahead through a tall man’s legs, when there was no other space available for our tiny shapes to get through the crowded street full of vegetable sellers, saree hawkers and buyers, jewel smiths, and chaat-pakori savants.

Just as we were making good ground, Aapa had a narrow escape as a motorbike emerged from the crowd and accelerated into the small space afforded it in a narrow gap that had emerged in the teeming crowd, and nearly ran over my small though older sister nicknamed Munni, literally “young one”, but also diminutive for Muneeza, by her friends. Saving herself, she did fall over, skidding from trying to put the brakes on her on sprint, mildly scraping a knee.

At this point, Aanun caught up with us, just as I was helping Aapa to her feet. He took the scene in, and immediately began scolding us from right where he was, across the 10-foot-broad street. But as we were bracing up for an earful, a yet new and unexpected scene began to unravel in front of us. Aanun had barely begun shouting when the cow that had been standing behind him raised its tail.

The Panditji passing by immediately knew what the bovine was about, and bowed and lunged to get a wet handful to sanctify his head with a sprinkle. But even as we gazed on rivetted, Aanun continued unaware of the drama behind him. It was only when the ever increasing parabola from the cow mother reached his pajama, and that he felt its wet warmth that his five-times-a-day-namazi-self allowed him to interrupt his harangue at our daily misdemeanours with a loud “lahaul-wala-quwwat”.

Both of us siblings, were in splits. Staying on our feet became nigh impossible as we bent over, holding on to each other to steady ourselves.

Aanun’s attire had indeed changed with the years. As he crossed fifty, the earlier perfectly ironed bell bottoms and dog-eared bush-shirts gave way to terrycot kurta pajamas that were much easier to maintain. To start with, the matched pairs were sky-blue, grey, cream, and white, but very soon all had become a well-washed muddy, pale grey. This colour, in fact, is my dominant memory of Aanun.

The change of clothes had no effect on his heart though and he continued to serve and love with undying devotion. He would be with us as we went to buy goats for Baqrah Eid or would hold up the frame as my father would nail in the shed for the goats in our central courtyard (for what would in time become our dining room).

Time, of course, was taking its toll on all of us.

One late summer night, my diabetic, kingsize-Gold-Flake-chain-smoking Abbu passed away of what is called a silent heart attack in his sleep, ironically soon after going to bed after having watched Die Hard 2 at my fourteen-year-old avatar’s insistence. Fourteen, as I was to later find out from an expat poet-psychoanalyst, is possibly the toughest age for a boy to lose his father. Still, I was told by an aunt on the morning after my father’s death that I was now to be the man of the house. As if losing Abbu wasn’t painful enough, I was now buried under a mountain of unwarranted, yet ascribed, and subsequently self-cultivated responsibility.

In effect, Ammi continued to run the school, just as she did already in Abbu’s time, and also to cook for us as she always did. The only difference was that for the first four months right after Abbu’s death, during her iddat, I saw her wear a burqa for the first and only time. This she promptly took off once the iddat was over and never touched again.

Aanun continued with outdoor chores and many inside the house too. The latter eventually included waking me up and giving me breakfast once I started going to college as Ammi would already have left for work by the time I would wish to wake up. By this time I had assumed much more authority, for hardly another reason apart from being the older male child, and I was the one often scolding Aanun for no greater cause than an overcooked egg.

He wasn’t living with us or anything at this time too though. He slept in his kothari, close to the doorstep of his separated wife, who wanted divorce and whom he refused to let go. Nature or God was to agree with neither.

Very soon after my father’s demise, Aamna Khatoon was diagnosed with a late-stage cancer and passed away in a matter of weeks. She met her maker as a married woman without having actually met her husband in over two decades.

Aanun continued with us as I had always seen, but only lording it all the more over the other workers at the school, particularly the rickshaw-wallah and odd-job-man cum peon, Zaheer Bhai. Even with my father around, this had been a hierarchical chain of command, which was nonetheless competitive, often compared by others in jest to the famed saas-bahu rivalry. After Abbu, it only became more tattle-tale and ludicrous, going as far as Aanun recovering and passing on to Ammi as evidence Zaheer Bhai’s stash of hash, proof of his much-maligned habit, his lat or aib.

It didn’t lead immediately to much more than a long and resounding scolding of Zaheer Bhai from my mother, and I guess the one-time monetary loss of his stash, but it left behind much bad blood, scores to be settled and acrimony and distaste. We are told uneasy lies the head that wears the crown but Aanun wore his headily. The maids who worked at the school of at home were cowed into subservience through the hearsay of his modus operandi.

Yet, such was the trust in his probity that the family had developed over time that even Abbu’s businessman cousin from Ludhiana trusted Aanun to receive his somewhat large sums of money from the hawala guys in Kucha Ghashiram and to bring them to our home. Chachu would later pick it up when he would come to Delhi and stay with us (our home had always been their personal Delhi inn).

Aanun picked up their money a few times until one time he happened to lose it on his way back to our house. Our uncle got very angry and accused Aanun of theft. We trusted Aanun implicitly and believed that either the packet of money would have dropped out of his loose kurta pocket or that he had been pickpocketed.

Gradually, and surprisingly, our economic situation improved after Abbu’s demise. I really doubt this had anything to do with the lost money, even if the school hadn’t quite ever been a money-spinner.

But over time, more and more parents of Shahjehanabad, particularly of the closer vicinity of the school, had seemed to take to Ammi’s administrative or public dealing style and want their wards to be admitted here. And with greater enrolment there was now more moolah to spend.

I finally got a computer in tenth standard. By my twelfth we had an AC for the big room. But the AC alerted us to an acute new problem. That of smell. The smell of the sweat of an employee who had spent hours running chores for us but now would sit to eat with us at our dastarkhan or watch an old Hindi film on the cable TV. What was to be done? In dire moments we would switch the channel to some English ones, with content we knew Aanun would have zero interest in, such as football. Or spray the room with a room freshener, and make a hue and cry about the foul smell and ask each other loudly where was it coming from? “Arey, Ammi, ye bad-bu kahan se aa rahi hai?” Aanun would wake it up to our antipathy sooner or later and make his way either out of the room, or of the house and go back to lie down for a siesta under the small ceiling fan in his tiny, burning kothari.

And it was in this house that a few years later, when I had already left for my higher studies in the UK on a scholarship that in this tiny room of an accommodation, only big enough to allow him to lie down one way and not the other, with room dimensions of about ten feet by four feet, where he had access only to a shared bathroom, that my brother discovered him dead.

Rigor mortis had set in. His strong and always helpful and kind hands were reduced to misshapen claws. Some of his belongings, including the radio, had fallen over from the wall-mounted shelves. Aanun must have struggled amidst convulsions, probably dying from a massive and painful heart attack.

He died a day before my scheduled first return from my studies abroad, having cleared the end-of-first-year qualifiers.

Aanun had been very happy and proud at my achievements. He had told me over the phone just the previous day that he was going to host a big daawat on my return (he had just sold the bigger Gali Babbu Khan apartment and received pagdi money worth a few lakhs). He had already spoken to the best Old Delhi bawarchi, Hakeem, who was renowned for always playing hard to get, and placed an order for biryani, qorma, roti, and zarda. He had also been inviting all our relatives, some of his friends, and even some bare acquaintances.

But later in the same day, he had gone incommunicado, for some 18 hours until my brother found him – dead. This was completely unlike him. He left our home after lunch but had not turned up for dinner. My brother had phoned him, but he had not answered. Muawwiz had gone to bed thinking that Aanun must have dozed off while watching TV as he sometimes did.

But when Aanun didn’t turn up next morning even after breakfast time, and he was always an early riser as he punctually offered Fajr, he had first called Zaheer Bhai at the school to ask if Aanun had come in today or if he had seen him last night. When Zaheer Bhai had replied in the negative, that is when Muawwiz had panicked and rushed to Aanun’s place. He had witnessed his father dying at eight. At twenty-one he was the first to behold Aanun’s corpse.

I had woken up late that morning as per my usual routine of many years. Academia had already turned me into a nocturnal creature.

Having just cleared the qualifiers I could afford to be even lazier, and with my shopping and packing for home already completed, I was planning to rest in until my flight in the evening. I checked my phone to find a message from my sister asking me to call her on Skype. I assumed she had an addition to her shopping list for me and called her a wee bit annoyed.

We connected and she began talking in an unusually calm manner asking me if I had packed everything and was all set to leave. I asked her about her newly born son, and she said he was fine, as cranky as ever. And then with the same equipoise, she told me that Aanun had passed away in the night. With a five-and-a-half hour difference it was already around 6 PM in India. The funeral and burial had already taken place, and that there was no point to me trying to catch an earlier flight.

I asked for more details of the death, who found the body and how, and of the funeral. I was stunned, to say the least, by the suddenness of it all, the narrow miss between my arrival and Aanun’s passing away, and the sad fate of my brother who had to witness Aanun’s frigid body, even as he had only ever shown us great warmth. I asked of his grave, where was he buried?

My sister told me, “Delhi Gate Qabristan.”

“Not Mehdiyan?”



This was the first and only time my sister dithered. “Ammi had said Delhi Gate was fine.”

Mehdiyan is our family graveyard. It is also the burial site of the great nineteenth-century religious reformist Shah Waliullah as well as of the memorable Urdu poet, Momin Khan Momin. None of this may have mattered to Aanun. But it did matter to me. My grandfather, grandmother, and my father lay there. Aanun too was dead now but lay elsewhere.

His siblings to whom he had never spoken, had soon come to claim the money he had left behind in his trunk from the apartment sale, and perhaps used a small part of that money to put up a headstone and build a modest wall around his grave at Delhi Gate.

Mehdiyan had proved a few thousand rupees too dear for us.

Maaz Bin Bilal has a PhD on the politics of friendship in EM Forster’s work. He is the author of Ghazalnama and the translator of The Sixth River. He teaches literary studies at Jindal Global University.

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