My love affair with Yusuf began when I saw an issue of Marg on an Indian Airlines flight ten years ago. Mulk Raj Anand had chosen to highlight the Persian Miniature and the one that caught my eye was Yusuf repulsing Zuleikha by Bihzad, the miniaturist of Isfahan. I wrote the first Yusuf poem there and then on the plane. I later learnt that Yusuf was the type for chastity and love in Islam.

Memphis is the Theban city noted for corruption where Yusuf was forced to dwell before his return to Canaan. This exile and return provides the book's pattern, albeit ironically.

I have wilfully left many cities, houses, hearts in search of adventure. I have also been equally frequently expelled from many cities I loved. Hence, the several farewell-poems in this collection.

Each man's city is the city of his birth which is also that of his father at least, if not of his forefathers. A city is not necessarily on of terrors. It also comforts, shelters and provides nostalgia, longing for a home.

As Italo Calvino knew, the first and final city is the city of our birth, of our dreams: the invisible city.

Hoshang Merchant

Hyderabad 1990

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