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कोई उम्मीद बर नहीं आती
कोई सूरत नज़र नहीं आती
मौत का एक दिन मुअ'ययन है
नींद क्यों रात भर नही आती
(koi ummeed bar naheen aatee,
koee soorat nazar naheen aatee
Maut ka ek din mu’ayyan hai,
neehd kyon raat bhar naheeh aatee?)
(No hope in the living for me
No solution in the sight for me
Death is scheduled for one day
Why there is no sleep in the night for me)
Above lines perfectly depict the state of Ghalib’s life post 1857 uprising which not only caused him the loss of friends and propriety but also (more importantly) shattered his soul from within making him lose all the hope for better times. He was pushed into the state of loneliness and solitude so much so that in the last years of his life he was primarily confined to his house only with minimal or no visitors. In his own words, “I have the grief of death, grief of partings, grief of livelihood, grief of reputation. The death of my near ones and separation from my living friends have plunged my world in utter darkness.” He was physically debilitated and emotionally drained losing the desire to live, just waiting for his time to arrive for the absolution that was never reached.
“Mirza Sahib, I can sense the agony and torment in your voice as you recall the year of India’s first freedom struggle. It was really disheartening to hear about your brother Yusuf. But then if there is one thing that’s still remains inexplicable, it’s the inevitability of death & its timing. The bond we share with our near and dear ones is such that even the slightest of the thought of their separation is haunting to the soul.” I tried to console him.
With a moment pause I continued, “But considering the circumstances in which your brother was leading his life, his soul surely had found its solace in departure. We human tend to be a bit selfish when it comes to our loved ones, no matter in what circumstances they are in, we just hope wish and pray that they remain with us forever. His condition wasn’t well and there was no one to look after him, he must have been leading his life under a lot of stress and pain. I mean. . . . .”
Before I could say anything further, Mirza Sahib smiled at me and said,
हमको मालूम है जन्नत की हकीकत लेकिन
दिल को खुश रखने को ग़ालिब ये ख्याल अच्छा है
(Humko maaloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat lekin,
Dil ke khush rakhne ko, Ghalib yeh khayaal achcha hai)
(Though I know the truth about the paradise,
What’s the harm I thus amuse myself)
“I understand everything but that itch of unable to see my brother’s body does crop up time and again making me restless. Who knows, it might have been a different story if I was not in Delhi at that time struck in a curfewed night. But I can’t really complain about Delhi. As whatever, big or small, I could gather from the life, it has been given to me by this city only” he paused and then continued, “Thanks anyways son for making an attempt to ease me out. It feels nice. But life had been harsh inflicting so much of turmoil throughout that by the time Yusuf left me, I somehow got used to this. The beauty of pain and sorrow is the more they are inflicted upon you, the less troublesome their effect becomes. And after a point of time, the sorrows disappear and the pain ceases to be the pain.”
रंज से ख़ूगर हुआ इंसान तो मिट जाता है रंज
मुश्किलें मुझ पर पड़ी इतनी के आसाँ हो गयी
(Runj se khugar hua insaan to mit jaata hai runj
Mushkilein mujh par padi itni ke aasaan ho gayi)
(When a person is habituated of sorrows, then sorrows disappear
So many difficulties fell upon me, that everything became easy)
“I knew you loved Delhi a lot and your soul actually resided in those markets and by-lanes & as the city suffered from the ravages of the British in suppression of the oppression, a part of you died. But why didn’t you leave the city when everything you owned or ever earned was lost?” I asked.
“Son as I told you, I can’t really complain about Delhi. Whatever I could gather from the life, it has been given to me by this city only. If there is someone who had borne the brunt of the revolt the maximum, it’s my beloved Delhi. There were Five things that kept Delhi alive—the Fort, the Chandni Chowk, the daily crowds at the Jama Masjid, the weekly walk to the Jumna bridge, and the yearly fair of the flower men. None of these remained, so how could Delhi survive? Yes, there was once a city of that name in the realm of India. But the city of good living, Delhi, changed and so did its people.”
He continued, “Being a witness to the sufferings and aftermath of the revolt, even my darkest corner of the heart was screaming to leave the place and go somewhere else in solitude where no one knows me, where I don’t know anyone. There was an acute shortage of basic necessities and life had come to the standstill. Many of my friends were hanged, deprived of their fortunes, exiled from the city, or detained in jails. I lost whatever little possessions I had and was left to lead the life & a family to sustain with no means.”
रहिये अब ऐसी जगह चलकर जहाँ कोई न हो
हमसुख़न कोई न हो और हमज़बाँ कोई न हो
(Rahiye ab aisi jagah chal kar, jahan koi na ho,
Hum sukhan koi nah o, aur hum zubaan koi na ho)
(O’ my heart let’s now go somewhere and live at such place where no one resides,
Neither someone is there to talk with, nor someone to understand the language)
बे दर-ओ-दीवार सा इक घर बनाया चाहिए
कोई हमसाया न हो और पासबां कोई न हो
(Be dar-o-deewar ka ek ghar banana chahiye
Koi hum saya no ho,aur paasbaan koi na ho)
(O’ my heart build a house in such a way
Neither are there any walls / doors nor any neighbour / keeper)
पड़िये गर बीमार तो कोई न हो तीमारदार
और अगर मर जाइये तो नौहाख्वां कोई न हो
(Pariye gar beemar to koi na ho teemaardaar,
Aur agar mar jayiye to nauha khwan koi na ho)
(If you fall ill ever, no one is there to nurse
And if you die one day, no one is there to mourn)
The above verses of Ghalib made me silent and I struggled for the words to come out of my mouth. These were originally written by Ghalib in the aftermath of riots and rampant in Delhi. His distress and anguish is clearly visible in above verse wherein he longs for the solitude to shun away the sophistications of newly formed Delhi. But Delhi for him remained like an albatross around the neck, something which he could crib about but could never leave.
“But I couldn’t leave son, I just couldn’t leave. This heart is a strange fellow, no matter how cruelly your lover betrays you it will remain longing and loyal for it. Even though this city turned ungrateful towards the end, my heart stood longing for it and its love put shackles on my feet – it was hard for me to stay but even harder to move on” he heaved a deep sigh.
“You are right, sometimes we indeed are caught in a fix of moving on or staying in. Mirza Sahib, in the years that followed that mash up, your life was largely led in recluse. You confined yourself to your house only – no one to meet, no one to greet. Life surely appears to be a load you were carrying to the middle of nowhere.”
“I am sure it was son. My life was burdened with one wife, two children (of distant relatives) and three servants to take care of. Ghumman Mian, another faithful servant of mine, who has gone away for some time also returned back post the revolt wearied and depressed with poverty and impoverishment. You asked me a while ago, why didn’t I leave? Tell me son, how could I leave when I had twenty mouths to feed with not a paisa in my pocket?” he said.
है अब इस मामूरे में क़हत-ए-ग़म-ए-उल्फ़त ‘असद’
हम ने ये माना कि दिल्ली में रहें खावेंगे क्या
(Hai ab iss maamooray mein qahet-e-gham-e-ulfat Asad,
Hum nay maana kay Dilli mein rahein, per khaweingay kya?)
(Now in this town there is a famine of the grief of love, Asad
I have agreed I would remain in Delhi – but what will I eat?)
He continued, “The allowance I used to get was too meagre to meet the ends. Still I just couldn’t leave any of them in the lurch, I know the intricacies of life and how it works. They all were in some way or the other connected to me. But day by day my physical strength was depleting. Old age and physical infirmities were catching hold of me. I was reduced to the mass of flesh without a soul, a corpse which kept moving only by courage. My soul was becoming feeble day by day. There was no strength left in me.”
मुन्हसिर मरने पे हो जिस की उमीद
नाउमीदी उस की देखा चाहिये
(munhasir marane pe ho jis kii ummeed
naa-ummeedii us kii dekhaa chaahiye)
(He who lives in the hope of dying
Just imagine the plight & depth of his despair)
Mirza Sahib was right, the age and anguish was starting having impact on him. By 1867 his memory impaired, his hearing & seeing capability lost, his hands trembled, his teeth had fallen off and he couldn’t walk. It seems that the absolution he was waiting for was finally approaching. Aware of his mental state he wrote, “I sleep in the courtyard. Two men carry me onto the veranda and dump me in a small, dark, side room. I spend the day lying in its dingy corner. In the evening, I’m again carried out and dumped on the cot.”
His love for poem and prose remained but for the physical strength, he was forced to restrain the same. But despite his requests to the admirers and followers to excuse him from the task of correcting the verses and replying to the letters, letters and requests continued to pour in unabated. When someone used to visit him, he would ask him to read letters draft their replies and edit the poems that were sent to him for corrections. Just before the end, he had said, “My dying breath is ready to depart. And now my friends, God only God exists.”
After a protracted illness, followed by a state of coma, Miraz Ghalib breathed his last on Feb 15 1869. He was buried in central Delhi’s Nizamuddin Basti, in the family graveyard of the Nawab of Loharu. His wife died on the same date, a year later.
Ghalib never worked or lived for a livelihood, all he aspired and craved for was the recognition of his work and the grant of status which he so rightly deserved. But blame it on the reputation he carried with himself or the equation he had with his counterparts or his reckless attitude or simply his fate, he never received the praise, honour and recognition due to him during his life time. He had himself remarked during his lifetime that although his age had ignored his greatness, it would be recognized by later generations...
शुहरत-ए-शैराम बगीति बाद-ए-मन ख्वाहिद सूदन
(Shuhrat-e-shaeram bageeti baad-e-man khwahid shudan)
(The renown of my verse will come after I am gone)
His words came true and the fame, recognition and praise came to him posthumously.
Mirza Sahib stood silent and I was constantly staring at him. It was an emotional journey to share and know about Mirza Sahib’s life and to revisit some of the long forgotten pages again with him. It must have been emotionally draining for him and for me too, it was an intense experience to be a part of his journey. The stream of emotions which I was holding inside me for the last few hours was getting heavier and heavier. I could feel the lump inside my throat and the emotions swamped my eyes. I was certain that it’s just a matter of moments when this dam would be broken and the lump & emotions would be flown out – I was fighting within to hold that dam intact. I grew silent and just turned my face away. Mirza Sahib, perhaps, sensed my emotional turmoil and said, “Son…” He repeated it twice before placing his hand on my shoulder.
His touch swayed away the dam and broke the restraint which was kept intact for long. Before either of us could say something, the bus conductor announced, “We are about to reach Delhi, please ready yourself.”
Mirza Sahib smiled, “See son, that bloody life played its trick here too. It’s the time to leave.”
“Is it? Do you really have to leave? Is it not possible for you to stay a bit longer? Throughout our discussions it never occurred to me that the time for leaving would ever arrive. I hate saying goodbyes especially when the heart desires to spend more moments and the mind doesn’t want to forget. Please don’t go, if there is even the remotest possibility to do so.” I said.
“Son, I had gone already more than a century and half back. It was you who made me come back to tell you my story and now the story is up so is my time. But this time I am going with a fulfilled heart and content soul. You know when I was alive there so much of negativity surrounding me that I always aspired to be devoid of any funeral or tomb so that the no one get any chance to indulge in any kind of indiscreet and unflattering talk about me. That way I would have saved myself from ignominy post my death” he said.
हुए मरके हम जो रुस्वा, हुए क्यों न गर्के-दरिया,
न कभी जनाज़ा उठता, न कही मज़ार होता
(Hue mar ke ham jo ruswa, hue kyoN na GHarq-e-dariya
na kabhee janaaza uThata, na kaheeN mazaar hota)
(Disgraced as I have been after my death, why didn’t I drown in the sea?
There would have been neither a funeral nor a tomb erected for me)
“But now” he continued, “I am content that there would be a little of traducement and I would not be lost in the crowd. Noble souls like you will keep me alive in their quest to unearth my life and my verses.”
He went pensive as he said those words. I couldn’t help but gazing at him constantly. His grey beard was shining silver in the backdrop of the dim light in the bus and his conical cap was gracing his head as elegantly as ever. Time can never be consistent, it sometimes crawls like a snail and sometimes flies like a bird. That day it appeared to be on a flying spree. No sooner did we realize the moment of eventual separation is approaching, it came. The bus stopped at the depot in the Delhi and the incumbents rushed out of the bus in a hurry – some must were wearied and exhausted from the long bus journey while others were enthused to meet their kins and mates. “Arre bhaiya, please come down. We also have to go to home” the conductor said pointing to me. His voice made me realize that all the passengers save us have got down from the bus. Most hesitatingly, we got up and moved towards the gate. We were the last to disembark – Me and Mirza Sahib.
“Khudaa Hafiz son. Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh (Good Bye Son. May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be with you)”, Mirza Sahib kissed my forehead, placed his hand on my head and turned away.
“Mirza Sahib,” I called him and bent down to touch his feet with my eyes closed, perhaps I didn’t want to let this moment pass from my glance.
“Bhaiya, have you lost something? What are you searching for there?” the bus conductor asked.
I opened my eyes and Mirza Sahib’s feet were not there. There laid a red rose emitting exquisite fragrance near my hand - Mirza Sahib was gone. With a smile on my face I picked up the rose and replied to the conductor, “No, I have found something.”
Leaving him amused, I took my bag along-with those scattered bits of moments just elapsed and left the place. As I walked, Mirza Sahib’s hoarse voice echoed in my ears. . .
हम ने माना कि तग़ाफ़ुल न करोगे लेकिन
ख़ाक हो जाएंगे हम तुम को ख़बर होते तक
(Hum ne maanaa kih tagaaful na karoge lekin
khaak ho jaaeinge ham tum ko khabar hone tak)
(Though I believe you may not ignore me, but
I will turn into ashes by the time you understand my plight)
~*~*~ . . . End of the series . . . ~*~*~
~Shubh Life . . . Om Sai Ram
© 2015 Manish Purohit (Reserved)
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