Let’s read a little about Mirza Ghalib’s shayari.
Mirza Ghalib is the biggest romantic poet of India. Romanticism in poetry is quite different. A poet doesn’t need another person to fall in love. A poet can fall in love with an idea, a philosophy, a mystery, and much more. Mirza Ghalib was the same. Some of his poems are love-filled tributes to death, moon, night, mortality of human beings, and God.
Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan was born to a Muslim family in Agra. He lost his father at a young age. His uncle took him under his roof but soon he too died. Mirza moved to Delhi and married Umrao Begum at the age of 13. They had seven children but unfortunately, none of them survived beyond infancy. He also had to take care of his schizophrenic younger brother.
This tragedy of his initial life years is important to understand how Ghalib lived and how he wrote his poems.
Mirza’s family was from Turkey and hence knew the Persian language. Ghalib was among the very few who knew both Urdu and Persian. Hence he was appointed as a tutor in the court of the Delhi sultanate. He would teach the young prince and princess the languages of Persian and Urdu. Soon he developed a vast vocabulary in these languages and started writing poems. He used a pen name ‘Ghalib’ to write poems. Ghalib meant conqueror.
His works were filled with references to pain. In one of his poems, he even compares life and marriage to the two cages a man has to live in.
In another poem, he states that pain and living go hand-in-hand. Until the man dies, he won’t be free of pain.
Such an extraordinary writing style impressed one and all. He was soon promoted to the post of minister. As a minister, he lived the life of a brat. He would drink wine all day long, trying to numb his pain. His pain was not just personal anymore. The great Islamic reign of the Mughal empire was in its twilight years. The British East India Company had won over the Bengal province and now had its eye on the Mughals. The Mughal empire too was weak and unstable. Ghalib served under nine rulers in his years as a minister.
In his elderly years, Ghalib too is rumoured to have gone schizophrenic. All the tragedy and wine drinking had finally taken their toll. He had written enough to be remembered as one of the greatest but who knows how many more he could have written.
The life of Mirza Ghalib is an art itself. His initial years were so drenched in tragedy yet he managed to turn all those pain into immortal words. His tears harvested the seeds of his creativity. This is such an important lesson for all of humanity.
Fortunately, by the end of his writing days, he had come to terms with his tragedy.
Yeh na thi hamari kismat, ke Vishaal-e-yaar hota
Agar aur jeete rehte, toh yahi intezaar hota
I was not fortunate enough to meet the love of my life
Had I lived any longer, it would still be an eternal wait.