Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mellifluous Recollections

These days, my mind does not find much space for allowing imagination to undertake flights unto boundless horizons. The reason behind that is piling pressure of studies, accompanying which is the diabolical stress of performing. So, while my imaginations stand crippled, what my mind does indulge in are activities which help it stay calm and rooted. Very frequently, in order to derive calm from chaos, I find my mind ricocheting back when it hits stressful visions of future to a carefree and peaceful past.

Today morning, the first thing I observed myself doing was humming a tune. I could not identify it at once, but this tune has been an important and fond part of my past. I might have been in 4th or 5th standard when I had heard my music teacher singing the most amazingly melodious ghazal. I could understand the verbal meaning of the ghazal, but not the depths of that meaning then. I do distinctly remember resolving secretly to learn the same ghazal and sing it at least as good as, if not better than my music teacher. My diffidence did not allow me to ask him to teach me. My vocal cords had betrayed me roughly half a week back, when I had politely been informed that I should not try and get into the school choir. That I not only got into it but led it for my remaining years in school is an altogether different story.

This post, specifically, is for me to recollect the magical effect that ghazal casts. So well did I remember each note of the way it was sung, that even without having any recording, that ghazal stayed by with me for long. I did not try singing it till many years later, and if I were to judge myself, I guess its magic lay close to the first time I had heard it. More magical now was that I understood perfectly the beauty, gravity and depth which the poet sought to convey when he uttered these lines "Lagta nahi hai dil mera is ujade dayaar mein, kiski bani hai aalam-e-na payedaar mein"

In his last days
 Most of shayari aficionados would instantly recognize these lines as perhaps the most famous and significant of what escaped the quill of India's last Mughal Emperor- Bahadur Shah 'Zafar'. He was not known to be the ablest or bravest Emperor, but he did build a reputation for being a prolific shayar. 'Zafar', meaning victory, was his takhallus, or what we know better as, nom-de-plume. Zafar was sent to exile in Rangoon after the uprising of 1857, in which, a disorganized band of rebels had marched towards Delhi and proclaimed Zafar to be their sovereign leader. The ghazal that I am referring to was written by Zafar in exile and it poignantly expresses in a graceful language the agony Zafar suffered on account of being sent to an alien place, detached from his own people and homeland. He was later buried near the Shwedagon pagoda in Rangoon. In these beautifully sculpted verses, Zafar expresses his dismay over not being able find his final resting place in Hindustan- his home and motherland. Without deliberating further, here are the evocative verses, forming perhaps my most favorite ghazal of all times.

Lagta nahin hai ji mera ujaday dayar mein
Kis ki bani hai aalam-e-na payedar mein

Bulbul ko baghbaan se na sayyad se gila
Qismat main qaid likhi thi fasl-e-bahaar mein

Kehdo in hasrtoon se kahin door ja basein
Itni jaga kahan he dil-e-daghdar mein

Ik shak- e-gul pe beth kar bulbul he shadman
Kante bicha die hain dil-e-lalazaar mein

Umr-e-daraaz mang kar lae the chaar din
Do aarzo main kat gae do intezaar mein

Din zindgi ke khatam hue lo sham ho gai
Paon bichha ke soainge konj-e-mazar mein

Kitna he badnaseeb hai ‘zafar’ dafan ke lie
Do gaz zameen bhi na mili koo-e-aar main

Bahadur Shah ‘Zafar’

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