O Ghalib, Where are You???

It is generally agreed that mental torture is more difficult to bear than physical punishment because the wounds and bruises which physical blows create heal with the passage of time, while the memories of psychological abuse stay forever and keep returning in the form of nightmares. Mirza Ghalib’s woes were emotional, but he got over them through his ability to compress them in words. And since his work can be set to music, singers have been singing it, ever since he composed those eternal lyrics.

Unscheduled load shedding combines physical and mental torture. No one knows when the power will come and for how long it will stay. Hot and humid nights are practically insufferable. The knowledge of the fact that this situation has been created by human failings makes one angry. We all know why transformers fail and it is common knowledge that more than one-third of the power generated is stolen with the active connivance of the people who govern us.

Last night, as I lay tossing in my bed, I thought of the good old days. We had no electricity in the village in which I was born, but we did not miss it; because we slept out in the open and the breeze kept us cool. And we got up fresh. No power and therefore no power failure! Mirza Ghalib (born 1797; died 1869) was even more lucky. During his time, there were no vehicles, and therefore no pollution and no “hit and run” victims. He never had to see the ghastly sight of a man lying on the road waiting for a police ambulance to come, while the commuters went their way without taking any note of his agony. Whenever I see all these ugly sights, I seem to cry out for Mirza Nosha to send some one to express our feelings the way he did.

I stumbled upon a small clip created by Jagjit and Naseeruddin Shah. It has six couplets from different ghazals which have a common theme: compassion. A link to the medley is given below. I am also giving the lyrics, with meanings of some words. To get the full value of your time, read the couplets, understand the meanings and then listen to the song. It will act as a balm… and also help you combat the ‘power cut woes’!


bas ki dushwaar hai har kaam ka aasaa.N honaaa aadamii ko bhii mayassar nahii.n insaa.N honaa

[dushwaar=difficult; mayassar=possible]


ghar hamara, jo na rote bhi, to wiran hota bahr gar bahr na hota to bayaban hota

(my house would have been wrecked, even if I had not wept

Had the sea not been the sea, a wildernesswould have crept in!


Ishrat-e qatra hai dariya mein fana hoo jana

Dard ka hudd say guzarna hai dawa hoo jana

The ecstasy for every drop, Is to merge into the river and thesea; When pain exceeds all limits, it becomes a remedy.)


Dard minnat kashe-dawa na hua main na acha hua, bura na hua

(The pain did not yield to the pleading of the medicine

I am neither better nor the worse, as a result of treatment)


Ibn-e-Mariyam hua kare koi mere dukh ki dava kare koi

(Ibn-e-Mariyam = son of Mary, the Christ)


Bak raha hun junoon mein kya kya kuchh kuchh na samjhe Khuda kare koi

(junoon = passion or obsession, bordering on insanity)

The last scene shows Naseeruddin Shah revealing his secrets. The nearly empty bottle of liquor says it all (with apologies to the prohibition lovers)

Happy viewing and happy listening. The link to this medley of poignant verses is given below


  1. Ashwani says:

    Bak raha hun junoon mein kya kya kuchh
    kuchh na samjhe Khuda kare koi

  2. kumar says:

    My heartiest congratulations and good wishes.
    Even I am a fan of Ghalib.
    With my limitations of the language,
    I have now composed poetries
    as COMBOS ..
    English ..Hindi ..Urdu..
    perhaps you may relish the ones
    I post elsewhere and many continue to pull my legs as usual..

    humour is an inseparable part of life and existence.

    ”agar aap mein jazbaat naheen
    aour bilkul bhee humour naheen
    toe kiss tarah zindagee
    jeee rahey hoe
    duniya koe kyaa !
    aaap koe bhee pata naheen


  3. Lajpat Sachdev says:

    I have been taking keen interest in the Urdu couplets you have been
    sending off & on.You are probably not aware that I have a very long
    association with urdu. In Graduation from last batch of the combined
    Punjab University Urdu was my optional subject & Dewan’s Ghalib was in
    the course. We had an Excellent moualvi to guide us in Murray Collage
    Now to come to the point,the couplet as far as I remember is(Ihope my Iam right)
    Dard mimat kasha dawa na hua
    main acha na hua, bura na hua
    The meaning is: my pain did not have to be obliged to the medicine,so
    it was not a bad thing that I did not get well.

  4. J Thomas says:


Leave a Reply to Ashwani