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Archive for December 27, 2011

Ghalib ka pata ( Ghalib’s address)

Who could’ve described Ghalib better than he himself.

Hai aur bhi duniya mein sukhanwar bahut ache
Kehte hain ke ghalib ka hai andaaz-e-bayaan aur.
(There are many good poets in the world, but they say Ghalib’s style (( of poetry) is different) 

And in humour narrates his notoriety :

Ho goya koi aisa bhi jo Ghalib ko na jaane,
Shayar to who achha hai, mager badnaam bahut hai.
(Is there anyone who isn’t aware of Ghalib? He is a good poet, but pretty infamous). 

Yet my favorite description of Ghalib in his own words remains this:

Likhta huun Asad sozish-e-dil se sukhan-e-garam,
Taan rakh na sake koi mere harf pe angusht.
{I write Asad, the pain of my heart in ‘hot’ poetry, So that no one can point a finger at my words}.

Indeed Ghalib needs no introduction. However, I dedicate this post to his association with the city of Delhi.

He was born in Agra in a family with Turk ancestors who had migrated from Samrkhand in Bukhara. After being married at 13 years of age he came to live in Delhi.

He lived, composed poetry and prose, then  passed away in Delhi.

Delhi came to be associated with the name of Mirza Ghalib.

It would not be wrong to consider Ghalib as the most coveted residents that Delhi city takes pride in. And the most well known address of Delhi, known worldwide happens to be:

Ghalib’s Haveli
Gali Qasim Jan,
Chandni Chowk,

Ghalib lived in  this haveli and  the address was immortalised  in a tribute by none other than Gulzar,  to the great poet . The verses aptly describe the narrow, dark alleys of Old Delhi. Anyone familiar with it, would find an accurate picturisation the character and life of the place, in these verses, .

Ballimaraan ke mahalle ki wo pecheeda daleelon ki si wo galiyan
Saamne taal ke nukkad pe batero ke qaseede
Gurhgurhati hui paan ki peekon mein wo daad wo wah-wah
Chand darwaaze par latke huye boshida se kuch taat ke parde
ek bakri ke mamiyaane ki awaaz
Aur dhoondhlayi hui shaam ke be-noor andhere
Aise deewaron se moonh jor kar chalte hai yahan
Churi-waalan ke katri ki bari bee jaise
Apni bujhti hui aankhon se darwaaze tatole
Isee be-noor andheri see gali qaasim se
Ek tarteeb charaghon ki shuru hoti hai
Ek quran-e-sukhan ka safa khulta hai
Asadullah Khan ‘Ghalib’ ka patha milta hai.
(The lanes of Ballimaran so much like the confusing arguments
With patridge stories at the lane’s corner.
The sounds of applause amidst the gurgling sounds of  chewed beetal leaves.
With worn out rug curtains hung outside a few doors
The bleating sound of a goat
And the lifeless darkness in the hazy evening.
That creep along the  walls.
Like the old lady from the alleys of Chooriwalan
Who hunts for the doors by the partial vision in her eyes.
In one such dull, dark street Qasim
Where a  row of lit lamps starts, 
And a new page of poetry begins
There,  the  whereabouts of Asadullah Khan Ghalib are  found).
(Pardon my inability to do justice through translation)).

He rented the haveli through his friend. And spent the last decade of life there.

With a prose as powerful as his poetry, he describes the dilapidated state of his house in a letter to his friend :

Balakhana ager che gira nahin, lekin chat chhalni ho chuki hai. Kahin lagan kahin ughaal dan, kahin chilamchi rakh diya hai.Abr do ghante batrasta hai to chat hamri chaar ghante barasti hai.
(Although the house did not fall, the roof has become a sieve. We put various utensils benath the points– of leak. Though the skies rain for two hours, our roof rains for four.)

And in true Ghalib wit he says:

Huaa huun ishq kii ghaarat garii se sharmindaa
Sivaay hasrat-e-taamiir ghar men khaak nahiin
(I am guilty of the destruction that my love has brought, There isnt anything at home except for the ‘castles in the air’).

Though living a life of extremely limited means, and financial hardships, he continued to live in Delhi:

Hai ab is mamure mein qaht-e gham-e ulfat asad
Ham ne yih mana kih dilli mein rahe khavenge kya
(There is now in this town a famine of the grief of love, Asad
We’ve agreed that we would remain in Delhi– what will we eat?)

He lived and loved the city Delhi, but with a complain about it’s changing character, in another letter:

Bhai kya poochte ho. Kya likhoon. Dilli ki hasti munassar kai hangamon per thi. Qila, Chandni chawk, her roz majma Jama Masjid ka, her hafte sair jamna ke pul ki, her saal mela phool waalon ka. Ye paanchon baatein ab nahin, phir kaho Dehli kahan. Haan koi shehr is naam ka Hindustan mein kabhi tha.
(What do you ask? What  should I write ? Five things kept Delhi alive – the fort, Chandni Chowk, the daily crowds at the Jama Masjid, the weekly walk to the Yamuna Bridge, and the yearly fair of the flower-sellers. None of these survives, so how could Delhi survive? Yes there used to be a city of this name in the land of Hindustan.)

Ghalib passed away in the same house on Feb 15, 1869. His house ultimately got turned into a place for coal storage.
It remained in a dilapidated condition until in 1999, when Government of Delhi acquired, renovated it,  after protests.

It was restored into a Ghalib Memorial Museum which opened on his birth anniversary on Dec 27, 2001.
Despite of  having lived the life of hardships of all kinds-emotional, personal, physical, financial, he had confidence that his poetry would keep his memories alive :

Hui muddat ke Ghalib mar gaya par yaad aataa hai
Woh har ek baat pe kehna ke yooN hota to kia hota.
( It has been a long time since Ghalib passed away, but he is still his saying of what if this or that had happened).

And as predicted by Mirza, for all the lovers of fine Urdu poetry, he still lives in each of his verses.

This reminds me of one his lesser known couplets which happen to be a favourite of mine, and which exudes his optimism in life,

Hoon garmi e nishaat e tasavvur se naghma sanj.
Main andaleeb e gulshan e na afrida hoon.
I sing with joy when I imagine tomorrow.
I am the lark of a garden that is yet to be.

(My tribute to the great poet on his 214th birth anniversary).

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