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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ghalib: 'andaleeb-e-gulshan-e-na afreedah'

'maiN andaleeb-e-gulshan-e-na_afreedah huN', Ghalib said quite prophetically, describing himself as the nightingale of a paradise as yet unborn. He has influenced almost every single writer (in all genres)of significance. Be it DaaGh, Iqbal, Faani, Jigar or Faiz, no one has been able to escape Ghalib's influence. Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi
Read the humorist--Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi and you'll find Ghalib in every other page: in a quibble, a parody or an oblique reference. This is true of the redoubtable Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqui, as well. Moulana Azad's rich, inimitable, elegant prose ('Ghubaar-e-Khaatir')is laden with Ghalib apart from the Persian masters, of course.

No other poet in the Urdu tradition is probably as layered as Ghalib. His irreverence, his diction teasingly simple in some of his Ghazals ('dil-e-nadaaN tujhe huwa kya hai', 'ibn-e-maryam huwa kare koii') and highly elevated, Persianized and complex in what is seen as his early work, the obliqueness (so native to Persian and classical Urdu verse), his ability to distill a world of possibilities into a single shayr ('hasti ke mat fareb meiN aajiyo Asad/ A'alam tamaam Halqah-e-daam-e-Khayaal hai'don't get drawn into the deception of existence o Asad/the universe is but a ringlet in/of the net/web of thought; 'rau meiN hai raKsh-e-umr kahaaN dekhiye thhame/ ne haath baag par hai na paa hai rikaab meiN'--the steed of life gallops; let's see where it stops/Neither the reins are in our hand nor is the foot in the stirrup). In spite of all the shareHeen (commentators/interpreters), Ghalib remains as elusve as ever. Perhaps he was right when he said in Persian:
rahraw-e-tafta-e-dar raftah ba aabam Ghalib
tosha-e-bar lab-e-juu_mandah nishaanast maraa

rahrau=wayfarer; taftah=burnt, scorched (remember Ghalib's friend and pupil Munshi Hari Gopal 'taftah'); tosha = belongings, here, clothes; lab-e-juu mandah= on the banks of a lake;
Now, if you put these together it would mean:
I'm a burnt/scorched wayfarer who plunged into the flowing waters Ghalib
My clothes/things on the banks of the lake are my signs/symbols

In other words, no matter how hard we try to decipher Ghalib's poetry (his clothes/things), we can never get to the real Ghalib (who has plunged into the depths of wisdom).

That explains it all.


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