Archive for poetry


Posted in India, poetry with tags , , on January 27, 2010 by salaamreaders

“Poochte hain woh ki Ghalib kaun hai!

Koi batlao ki hum batlayein kya?”

This verse, perhaps, best describes Ghalib’s own dilemma about himself. While the serious student of his life and works is likely to deify him for the deeper philosophical meaning of his shairi, the common man is more likely to treat him as the ‘lovable rascal’- a gambler who was fond of his drink and who could tug at his heart-strings with a neat turn of the phrase. Chuchha Ghalib is how Gulzar describes him!

Who really was Ghalib? Was he merely one of the best poets of all times or was their some other facets to his persona? He was a precocious child, a penurious householder perpetually in debt and a sceptic who always found himself questioning faith and dogma. He loved his wife and grieved for his seven children that did not survive. He cared for his brother and his family despite severe financial hardship. It shows that he was, essentially, a family man.

It is difficult to say how he felt at the vicissitudes of his life. He struggled to be appreciated for his works and for material success. He was not accepted easily by the court at Delhi and his rivalry with Zauq was legendary. He may have considered himself superior to his peers when he said,

“ Hain aur bhi zamane mein sukhanwar bahut achhe

Par kehte hain ke Ghalib ka hai andaaze bayaan aur”

But it is not that he did not acknowledge a master like Meer, of whom he said,

“ Rektah ke tumhi ustad nahin ho, Ghalib!

Kehte hain agle zamane mein koi Meer bhi tha.”

 He did not have any steady source of income and depended entirely on state patronage and money lenders. His uncle’s pension was the collateral against which he obtained credit. His efforts to publish his anthology were not very successful and he was unable to gain a foothold in the Moghul court. He must have been deeply disappointed for he says,

“Koi umeed bar nahin aati 

Koi soorat nazar nahin aati.”

To make matters worse, none of his seven children survived and he must have really been broken to say,

 “Jate huay kehte ho, qayamat ko milenge

Kya khoob! Qayamat ka hai goya koi din aur.”

His wife was deeply religious and he himself iconoclastic, for he says,

“Imaan mujhe roke hai, to khainche  hai mujhe kufr

Kaaba mere peeche hai, kalisa mera aage.”

He enjoyed gambling and was fond of his drink, against the tenets of his faith, for he says,

“Qarz ki pite the mae, lekin samajhthe the ke haan

Rang laegi humari faqa masti ek din.”

He was a man, mostly under the weather who kept a facade of cheerfulness even at the cost of being misunderstood, for he says,

“ Unko dekhe se jo aa jati hai mounh par rounaq

Woh samajhte hain ke beemar ka hal achha hai.”

 That he was human, like all of us, is all that we can safely say and wish him,

“Tum salamat rao hazar baras

har baras ke hon din pachas hazar.”

%d bloggers like this: