Today is Mirza Ghalib’s 224th birthday. The Agra-born poet lived in Ballimaran in Old Delhi; its sasural was in today’s Haryana (Loharu). While he was long buried in our city, Ghalib still courageously agreed to be part of the Proust series of questionnaires that urge people to make “Parisian salon confessions” to explore the diverse experiences of citizens . Well, actually, these answers from Ghalib are as the scholar Aqil Ahmad, the longtime director of the Ghalib Academy, imagined (but the following verses are percent of the poet). The photo shows his only public statue in Delhi (find your GPS yourself!).
The main aspect of your personality?
Aashiq mizaj – I’m too romantic.
Ishq ne Ghalib Nikamma Kar Diya,
Varna ham bhi aadmi der kaam ke.
(Ghalib, love made me a useless idler,
Otherwise I was also a man of substance.)
Your main flaw.
Your greatest misfortune.
Lose seven children.
Naam ka mere hai jo dukh, ki kisi ko na mila,
Kaam mein mere hai, jo fitna ke barpa na hua.
(The grief assigned to me is a grief no one else suffers,
The excitement in my life is unprecedented.)
What is your favorite thing to do?
Your ardent wish?
Yeh na thi hamari qismat, ki wisal-e yaar hota, Agar aur jite raih te, yehi intezar hota.
(Meeting you in this life was never in my destiny
If I had been granted more years, I would still have spent them in this waiting period.)
Your idea of happiness?
Participation in dosto ki mehfil (being with friends). Play Shatranj. Gambling.
If not yourself, who would you be?
A soldier, my Khandani Pesha (hereditary occupation).
Where would you like to live
Had I seen Benares in my teenage years, I would have settled there than in Delhi. I even wrote a Farsi Masnavi about this great city – Chirag-e-Dair (Lamp of the Temple).
Her favourite color?
I always wear white kurta.
Your favorite poet?
Mummy. Bedil is an inspiration for my Persian poetry. And especially Mir Taqi Mir.
Rekhte ke tumhi ustad nahi ho Ghalib,
Kehte grove agle zamane my koi Mir bhi tha.
(You are not the only master of Rekhta, Ghalib,
In the old days there was also a certain mir, they say.)
Your favorite food, drink?
Besani Roti, Shami Kebab, Maash Ki Dal, Yakhni. English wine.
Ghalib chhuti sharab, par ab bhi, kabhi kabhi,
Peeta hoo roz-e abr o shab-e mahtab my.
(Ghalib, I’ve given up wine, but even now sometimes
I drink on moonlit nights and when the weather is cloudy.)
What do you hate the most?
Hain Kawakab Kuch, Nazar Aate Hain Kuch,
Dete hain dokha, you baazigar khula.
(The stars look like something else and happen to be something else,
These tricksters are so blatantly fooling us.)
Your motto in life?
Ranj se khugar hua insa, with jaata hai ranj,
Mushkile mujh par pari itni, ki aasan ho gayin.
(When a person gets used to the grief, the grief disappears,
Too much hardship fell on me that in the end it was easy to endure.)