Hazaron khwaishyen aisi ki har khwaish pe dam nikle…
Poetry is no way an art to pick, nor is it a course of discipline for pleasure, rather it’s an outburst of emotions that upsurge with the tsunami of tears in the poignant ocean of sublime sorrows. A poet either by accident or straying into verses, many sincerely believe is the victim of circumstances actually who traverses a titanic journey with the blend of misery and mystery which evidently reflects in the recital of couplets.
Amidst an unending list of renowned Urdu poets like Ibrahim Zauk, Mir Taqi Mir, Daag Dehlvi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and even the contemporary poets like Bashir Badr, Nida fazli and Gulzar, Ghalib appears all the more contemporary and stands head and shoulders above all. His literary works in Urdu and Persian are unparalleled and unabridged that make him one of a kind.
Ah ko chahiye ik umr asar hone tak, kaun jeeta hai tere zulf ke sar hone tak
Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, Ghalib was his pseudo name like most writers do in the literary world. Ghalib was born in Kala Mahal, Agra on the Wednesday morning of 27 December 1797, he lost his father to a war 1802 when he was all 5. His father worked in the Alwar Army under the kingdom of Raja Bakhtawar. He went to his uncle Nasrullah in the hope that he would raise him; the most unfortunate was that he too left the world.
Ghalib’s brother Yusuf suffered a severe stroke of mental disorder and died. His canoe foundered, life floundered and the tempest gathered around refused bluntly to ebb.
Marriage as a last resort as they say, he got married to Umrao Begum, daughter of Nawaab Ilahi Baksh, Delhi on 9th August 1810 when he was all 13. His spouse was a contrasting personality against him. The marriage blessed the poet with five kids; but the pleasure was ephemeral as all his children passed away one after another. The destiny went on playing a hide-and-seek game with him, he felt shattered at the very sight of his world falling to pieces.
Ghalib’s formal education has always confounded many scholars conducting research on him as there are no written records. However, his primary education was given by Maulvi Mohd Muvjjam.
Chess, pigeons and flying kites were some of his pleasures with frequent alcoholic bouts on the side. Ghalib never dreamt of nor did he strive for a decent livelihood instead led all his life on the generosity of his friends or state sponsorship.
After the great Zauk’s death, Ghalib came to Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor and began to work there. Shah honoured Mirza with the title Najumdolla Dabirulmulk Nizam Jung in 1850.
Ye na thi hamaari qismet, ki wisaal-e-yaar hotaa
Agar aur jeete rahte , yahi intezaar hotaa, tere vaade par…
The man of tragedy never gave up; the worst befell him when the meagre amount of pension that could scarcely sustain his kitchen was also stopped after 1857 revolt. To add insult to injury when a puny sum he had been receiving from the king also ceased that reopened the wounds still waiting to heal. The nawaab of Rampur did help him but not with an amount sizable enough to pay rent of the house he moved in.
More than 125 years ago, Mirza Ghalib spent 9 years of his life in a mansion in Gali Qasim Jaan, Ballimaran, an area of Delhi cheek by jowl with age old houses and plenty of mosques, the muezzin’s raspy voice melts amidst the din of the historic bazaar Chandni Chowk’s hustle bustle life style, honking horns of cars and auto rickshaws, howling of hawkers, prattle of rickshaw-wallahs last but not least typical Dilli 6 type late night gossip sessions over a cup of tea exude an aura too magical.
The house, where he lived and penned an enormous work of poetry, has undergone a facelift and turned into a museum where the poet’s couplets written in his hand on a piece of paper mark nostalgic sepia of times, his portraits and utensils are also displayed juxtaposed to remember the great Ghalib’s lifestyle.
He bade the world adieu on February 15, 1869 and was laid to rest in Delhi’s Nizamuddin basti.