Na tha kuch, to Khuda tha; Kuch na hota, to Khuda hota,
Duboya mujh ko hone ne, na hota main, to kya hota?
Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib was born in 1212 Hijri in Agra. His ancestors were Turks, and their lineage joins back to Tur Ibn Fareedun. He was married at an early age of thirteen but none of his seven children survived beyond infancy. He made Delhi his permanent residence after his marriage and started learning Farsi (Persian) and gained the knowledge of other subjects from Shaykh Muazzam who was one of the renowned teachers of Ghalib’s time.
Ghalib lived in Delhi for about 50 years and during all this time, he never bought a house of his own but preferred to live in a rental house. He changed his place of residence when he thought that he has lived enough in one place or got fed-up of a place. The place where he died is now a well-known address in Delhi:
Gali Qasim Jan,
Likewise, Ghalib never bought any book but still kept himself busy with authoring books all his life. He used to rent books and once finished a book, he would return it back. Indeed, he lived a life full of financial constraints and limited means.
Marte hain aarzoo mein marne ki,
Maut aatee hai par nahin aatii
‘Death’ is a very dominant theme in Ghalib’s poetry. His life portrays a very clear picture of the reasons why he talked about death more often. The pension that Ghalib used to get was stopped during the 1857 revolt which led to debts but he continued to get a little percentage of the original afterwards, all his children died during infancy, and his work wasn’t appreciated during his lifetime.
Most of his work was destroyed during the 1857 revolt when the British ransacked a personal library of Mirza’s friend who had all of Ghalib’s poetry preserved. The few that were left are the ones we cherish today.
No doubt, Mirza Ghalib was one of the best poets of South Asia. His ghazals have been sung in different ways by many different people, and many movies and plays have been done on his life. Today, Dec 27th, marks the 214th birth anniversary of this great legend who lives in our hearts through his verses and will continue to live through his incredible work. One of his poetical pieces that I remember clearly right now is:
Aah ko chahiye ik umar asar honay tuk,
Kon jeeta hai teri zulf ke sarr honay tak,
Hum ne mana ke taghaful naa karogay lekin,
Khaak ho jaaen gay hum tumko khabar honay tak.