An Apology to Ghalib… دیر و حرم و آستاں

I was driving (getting on the highway ramp) when I saw a sign that basically meant that non-motorized vehicles or pedestrians were not permitted to use the ‘path’ meant only for cars. It triggered a rather philosophical idea in my mind that paths were first made by the footsteps of man/animal and walking on roads used to be an essential means for us to get around until Von Otto went about creating the infernal contraption which eventually led to our present evolution of suburbia. In this day and age, if we simply sat down by the highway, in a few minutes (or perhaps hours) a cop would roll by and ask us to move. Essentially defying the question asked by Ghalib in the very famous verse

Dair Nahi Haram Nahi Dar Nahi Asstaan Nahi

Baithein hein Rahguzar pay hum, ghair humay uthay kyon?

Which in loose translation means;

Its not a temple, nor a mosque, nor a doorway nor a hermitage

I sit by the wayside, why should someone ask me to move?

I confess, sitting on the side of a road and watching people go by is one of my favorite wastes of time. Particularly on a nice day with a reasonable cup of coffee and a laptop to get some work done (yes there are bills to pay!). But obviously, as opposed to Ghalib, we can no longer reasonably engage in that activity everywhere. That led me to thinking about being asked to move or being asked to get out of the way of cars which made me tap out a few verses (parked on the side of the highway no less) which I present below.

دیر  و  حرم  و آستاں تو دور کی بات

یاں تو رہگزر سے بھی اٹھا دیتے ہیں

Temples, mosques and hermitages

Are a distant concern

They would move you

Even from the wayside

سچ گواب بچتے ہیں سب کی نگاہ سے

کے لوگ اب سچائی کی سزا دیتے ہیں

Those who speak the truth

Often have to hide

People punish you

For saything the truth

کس خوش گوئی سے کج کلام ہیں وہ

ذرا سی بات کہ کے دل جلا دیتے ہیں

With eloquence,

She says biting words

With a few sentences

She can set my mind to flame

ریا و سیاہ کاری میں ہماری عمر کٹی

سفرِ آخر پے کیوں سفید قبا دیتے ہیں؟

I spent my life in sin and hypocrisy

My black deeds cover me

Yet on my final journey

I’ve been given a white shroud

آؤ مانندِ موسیٰ  کسی طور پے چڑھیں

سنا کے رب جلوہ بھی دکھا دیتے ہیں

Let us go you and I

To a mount like the one Moses climbed

I hear that it is possible

To see the sight of God

عمر بھر  کسی نے قدر نہ  کی ہمری

بعدِ موت کیا ہیرا سمجھ دبا دیتے ہیں؟

I held no value for anyone

While I lived

But now

They bury me as I were a treasure

خاموشیِ بتاں  پے توں دل برا مت کر

حسین خامشی سے ہی رضا دیتے ہیں

If the idol remains silent

Do not despair

I hear that the beauteous

Give approval through silence

غمِ عشق  پے روتا  ہے  کیوں  استاد؟

اس کھیل میں غم بھی مزہ دیتے ہیں

The sorrow of love

Should not move you to tears

In this game even sorrows

Bring joy


Filed under Ghazal, Poetry

2 responses to “An Apology to Ghalib… دیر و حرم و آستاں

  1. this makes me wish that i was parked on the side of the highway..watching people, having coffee, using my laptop and watching u tap these verses! your poems often refer to age, getting older, passage of time and point to all the different colors of experiences u’ve a very psychedelic manner..
    that makes me think of the oldest vines and i believe that all that’s said abt them is true..
    the truth in their flavor..must be like these words ………..
    every verse/sip is an absolute experience of love, joy, sorrow, truth, lies and much more..
    the reader/drinker gets lost in the scent of experience..


    • Thank you so much! I think the reflection on age and getting older is a part of the influence of Ghalib (if any) since he too, in many ways, kept complaining about his old age and frailty. As opposed to Dagh or Thomas who refused to “go gentle into that good night” 🙂 Of course that does not mean they did not complain (heaven knows poets complain a lot!) but they were perhaps more willing to fight than the quick surrender Ghalib encouraged so often 😉


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