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Saturday, September 29, 2007

'ajab azaad mard thha'

hu'e mar ke ham jo rusvaa, hu'e kyuuN na garq-e-daryaa<br />na kabhii janaazaa uThtaa na kahiiN mazaar hotaa
'ajab azaad mard'--that's how Ghalib described himself and it's a term that suits him best:
yeh laash-e-bekafan Asad-e-Khastah_jaaN ki hai
Haq maghfirat kare, ajab aazaad mard thha

Ghalib-e-Khastaa ke baGhair kaunse kaam band haiN<br />roiye zaar zaar kyaa keejiye haaye haaye kyuuN
Altaf Hussain 'Haali' in his famous and moving 'marsiya' or elegy written on Ghalib's death recalls the phrase, as well.

Ghalib happens to be the most oft-quoted and perhaps the most misquoted poet in the Urdu canon too. Just about every other 'shayr' is ascribed to him. I was once in the company of a well-known research scholar from where I belong, Hyderabad, A.P., and a former Head of the Urdu Department of a well-known local college. The phone rang and this gentleman (the ex-Head) said, "haaN yeh Ghalib ka shayr hai", by way of confirmation and looked at the famous researcher who nodded. He repeated the shayr first:

yaad-e-maazi azaab hai ya rab
chheen le mujh se Haafiza mera

I knew right away that it was not a shayr from Ghalib, but who was I to contradict a former head and one of Hyderabad's well-known urdu scholars. I quietly told them the next day that they had better recheck, because some people who knew their Ghalib told me that it wasn't his shayr at all. The research scholar ran into the library, right next to where we were sitting, came back and mumbled that it wasn't a shayr from Ghalib, after all.
More than a year ago Hasan Suroor of The Hindu wrote a column from London in which he said something like--"as the Urdu poet Ghalib says 'hum tau Doobe haiN sanam, tum ko bhi le Doobenge." I wish Suroor had asked someone whether poor ole Ghalib had anything to do with such crappy words.
Ghalib has suffered a lot--in translation, transliteration and interpretation.

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