Ladies and gentlemen.
After four years of Matric and F.A combined, of reading Meer Taqi Meer, Meer Dard, Iqbal, Ghalib, Nasir Kazmi and all sorts of ghazals by other poets, not to mention consistently being told by five different Urdu teacher’s that the renowned verse;
was written by Iqbal, although the poet was not Iqbal, but Syed Sadiq Hussain Kazmi. And I should know, because he was my great grandfather.
Okay, I’m done bragging now.
My point is that I had Urdu ghazals drilled into my head for almost four years now and I never understood a word. But now, finally, when my Urdu learning days are over, I suddenly understand what it’s all about.
Yes, people! I have finally understood what Ghalib and Mushafi and all the rest go on and on about in their seemingly thought provoking ghazals! You see, what they are pining over is….no, not the state of their country. No, not the plight of humanity. No, not the fact that the British had a mighty grip on the sub-continent. (Though, yes, Iqbal did a good job of writing about that endlessly in his nazms.)
Y U NO LIKE ME BACK?
No, no, no. What Ghalib is most concerned about is that the girl he likes doesn’t like him back. His mehboob, if you will, ignores Ghalib and so Ghalib is sad.
And it doesn’t stop there.
No, you see, Ghalib is heartbroken because he is in love with this girl. Why, you may ask? Does she possess cutting and acerbic wit? Is she also a poetess whose poems make Ghalib swoon? No. There are only about three main reasons why any poet falls in love with their mehboob. Yes, I know. I was hoping it might be her personality, her wits and okay, maybe her smile. But the reasons are;
- The girl’s eyes.
- The girl’s hair.
- That’s it.
I mean, what kind of stupid love is that? If a boy told me he loved me because of my eyes and hair, I’d ignore him too. And Ghalib wonders why his mehboob doesn’t want to see him and promises to meet up and never shows.
The Red Flowers and The Confusion
Alright, let’s switch over to Mushafi for a bit. Now, Mushafi is talking about Laala Zaar and no, I thought he was talking about the place in Rawalpindi too but apparently that’s not it. Laala Zaar means the place with red flowers. Now, you would think that when someone talks about the place with the red flowers, they mean…the place with the red flowers.
But that would be obvious! So now, Laala Zaar becomes the home of the girl he likes and when he says he was unable to obtain a flower from this place, of course he doesn’t mean flower, he means the girl. Again, with this need to portray women as though they’re weak and fragile. But anyway. Look, I’m a straight forward person. I don’t understand this ‘baaton mein baatein‘ thing he’s trying to pull off. If you mean girl, say girl. Don’t say flower.
Back to Ghalib!
Now, Ghalib has been unsuccessful in getting the girl that he likes (I’m not surprised, frankly. He probably scared her off.) Now, Ghalib is even more sad than when she blew him off. Now, the man is suicidal. So, he asks his friends that when he dies, to not bury him but to throw his body into the ocean so no trace of his existence on this earth remains.
I mean, why are they teaching us this? We’re teenagers. Are they trying to give some tips to the already over-emotional boys around?
When All Is Said And Done
At the end of the day, I’m not sad about not having to study Urdu ever again, but I will miss the way the Urdu ghazals make sense to me now. Yes, they were terrifying at some points and just plain confusing at others – but weren’t the poets themselves mostly confused?
So in this circle of confusion, you find a ghazal or a shair that appeals to you. You can find some reason or wisdom in these old poems.
Or you can be me and write about how overly sentimental all these poets were and how they needed some serious sedatives.