Ghalib Ka Andaaz-E-Beiyaan
Mirza Ghalib as we all know was one of his kind, a poet who always lived on his own terms and conditions. He transcribed bruised hearts, sabotaged emotions, betrayed love and pain in his poetry. He is said to have penned mostly when submerged in an alcoholic stream. The poet voyaged a titanic journey of tears, torment and torture which can be felt in his poetry. Amidst a long list of renowned Urdu poets like Mir Taqi Mir, Ibrahim Zauk, Momin, Daag Dehlvi, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmed Faraz and Bashir Badr, Mirza stands even taller among all these poets. His literary works in Urdu and Persian are unparalleled and unabridged that make him stand head and shoulders above the rest of his ilk. Mirza Ghalib is the synonymous with Urdu poetry.
Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, Ghalib was his pseudo name. Ghalib was born in Kala Mahal, Agra on the morning of December 27, 1797. He lost his father to a war in 1802 when Mirza was merely 5. His father worked in the Alwar Army under the kingdom of Raja Bakhtawar. Later, he came to his uncle Nasrullah with a fond hope that he might raise him but he too left the world leaving this hapless child to fend for himself. Marooned Mirza met the moment that mocked his misery but he dragged his life, though fragmented into shards and with feet that flatly refused to walk on. Ghalib’s brother Yusuf suffered a severe stroke of mental disorder and later he succumbed to the disease. The storm of sorrow buffeted him from all sides and there was no let-up in its fury.
He came to Delhi and tied the knot. He had five kids but the joy was too ephemeral as they all died one after another. Braving the tempest of terrible odds he staggered, stumbled and retraced his shaky steps and stepped ahead to adopt two kids, his wife’s nephews, to renew his life with them but time was never on his side, destiny played dirty and even snatched his two adopted kids that left the poet flailing in the flood of tears, the last glimmer of hope buried with them. The world seemed to chuckle and poverty stared him in the face; his bad luck continued playing a hide-and-seek game with him. By now the great Ghalib learnt the trade of leading life though sometimes with silent sobs and too often with unwept tears. He compromised with the circumstances around, trudged along and resolved not to go with death as he already defied her many a time in the past. On the contrary, he blew the blues away veiling the unshed tears behind the charade of his literary works of poetry. One can understand the language of tears only when one is in tears.
Hazaaron khawisheyn aisi ki har khwaish pe dam nikle…
Ghalib’s formal education with no written records has always confounded scholars. However, his primary education was given by Maulvi Mohd Muvjjam. It is said that some of his friends were the respected and intelligent people of Delhi . He got married to Umrao Begum, daughter of Nawaab Ilahi Baksh, Delhi on August 9, 1810, when he was all 13. His better half was in fact the real half, a contrasting personality against him. The God-fearing Umrao was a very reserved sort of person—the match was rather incompatible as the poet was a carefree, unrestricted and untamed person who took life as it came. His pastime comprised playing chess, chausar, keeping pigeons, gambling and flying kites. Besides, he was drenched in alcohol from head to foot, he would hit the bottle without fail and remain drowned up to neck. He landed himself in jail, arrested on gambling charges and the FIR was lodged at the Chandni Chowk (Kotwali in those days). He was sentenced for 6 months; later on he was released after 3 months for his good conduct. He went to Ihata Kaley Sahab where he took refuge after he was released from jail in 1847. He was heard saying that he was not a Muslim in true sense of the term.
The other side of the coin reads as Ghalib wore his heart on his sleeve, also had an affair with a courtesan who was a fan of his poetry, then the poet uttered, ishq ne ghalib nikamma kar diya, verna hum bhi they aadmi kaam key. Ghalib never strove for a luxurious life, he did what his heart guided him through, led all his life on the generosity of his moneyed friends who were a little too caring about him. Besides, he had state sponsorship to keep body and soul together.
After Zauk’s demise, he came to the emperor, a renowned poet, Bahadur Shah Zafar and started working in his court. Zafar honoured Mirza with Najumdolla Dabirulmulk Nizam Jung in 1850.
Ye na thi hamaari kismet, ki visal-e-yaar hota, Agar aur jeete rahte, yahi intezaar hota
The worst befell him when the pension stopped after 1857 revolt and so much so the meager money he had been getting from the king also stopped which again reopened his oozing wounds this all rubbed salt into them, albeit rupees 100 a month he received from the nawaab of Rampur that wiped a tear from his eyes. Ghalib spent all his life under a rented roof; he never gave way to anything posing a threat to his lifestyle, more of a royal dynasty.
About 126 years ago this celebrated poet Ghalib lived for 9 years of his distraught life in a mansion (haveli) in old Delhi’s Gali QasimJaan, Ballimaran. As you move through the winding alleys your piece of talk becomes more interspersed with the anecdotes most of them trite though—about Ghalib. This vicinity with thick population with a cluster of houses too old is wrapping in its fold the sepia recollections and people live cheek by jowl and in there are plenty of mosques almost in every corner, the muezzin’s raspy voice melts amidst the din of the historic bazaar Chandni Chowk’s hustle bustle lifestyle, honking horns of cars and auto rickshaws, hollering of hawkers, prattle of rickshaw-wallahs last but not least typical Dilli 6 type late night gossip sessions over a cup of tea exudes an awesome aura.
Once Ghalib was invited to teach Persian at Anglo Arabic School Ajmeri Gate and he bluntly refused when the English principal of the school Mr Thomson did not come to welcome him at the gate.
The mansion, where he stayed 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 which mark nostalgic moments and reminiscences of his time. Mirza’s portraits and utensils displayed juxtaposed bring forth the memory of how he led his life with those counted pieces of utensils. He was his own master, captained the ship he steered, manoeuverd through the choppy sea, troubled waters kept tumbling his vessel too often but he braved all the odds and finally he anchored his literary ship in Delhi’s Nizamuddin basti on February 15, 1869, where his tomb was erected with an epitaph reading the two dates.
Aah ko chahiye ik umr asar hone tak, Kaun jeeta hai teri zulf ke sar hone tak
By Syed Wazid Ali