Monday, November 26, 2012

Ghalib (Yaar Julaahe)

That Gulzar idolizes Ghalib is no revelation. In his own words "His poems, his lifestyle, his behavior everything are a great inspiration. At a time when people used to carry their religion on their shoulders, Ghalib talked about humanity. The man lost seven children and carried a huge sadness inside him but despite that he was known for his sense of humour." Gulzar's writing is often inspired by (and at times borrows from) Ghalib's work or his thought process.

In this very poem, he refers to Ghalib's collection of work as 'Quran-e-sukhan' - a holy book of eloquence/language/poetry. In his book 'Mirza Ghalib: Ek Swanahi Manzarnaama'**, he goes so far as to call himself a servant to Ghalib.

In this small poem he begins by describing the atmosphere around Ghalib's residence in Chandni Chowk in purani Delhi; and towards the end makes a sudden change in narrative - of how in spite of these ordinary, even depressing, surroundings the brilliance of Ghalib shone through.

Poem and Translation
बल्लीमाराँ के मोहल्लों की वो पेचीदा दलीलों की-सी गलियाँ
सामने टाल के नुक्कड़ पे, बटेरों के क़सीदे
गुडगुडाती हुई पान की पीकों में वह दाद, वह वाह-वा
चंद दरवाजों पे लटके हुए बोसीदा-से कुछ टाट के परदे
एक बकरी के मिमियाने की आवाज़

[The back-lanes of the Ballimaaraan neighbourhood, tangled, like tedious arguments*
Quails - like poets in their own right - conversing at the corner of the lumberyard
Laudations, coated in the sound of the hukkah and the spitting of paan
Old, torn curtains - hanging from a few doors
The bleating of a goat ...]

और धुंधलाई हुई शाम के बेनूर अँधेरे
ऐसे दीवारों से मुंह जोड़ के चलते हैं यहाँ
चूड़ीवालान के कटरे की 'बड़ी बी' जैसे
अपनी बुझती हुई आँखों से दरवाज़े टटोले

[And the dimming lights of the dusk
Walk with their faces close to the walls;
Like the 'Badi Bi' of Choodiwaalaan
Feeling the door with her dimming eyes]

इसी बेनूर अँधेरी-सी गली क़ासिम से
एक तरतीब चराग़ों की शुरू होती है
एक क़ुरान-ए-सुख़न का सफ़ा खुलता है
'असद उल्लाह खाँ ग़ालिब' का पता मिलता है

[It is exactly from this lightless Qasim street
That the order of a thousand lamps begins
A page of the Quran-e-sukhan opens
The address of 'Asad Ullah Khan Ghalib' is found]

*Gulzar took the lines "pecheeda daleelon si galiyaan" from a work of T.S. Eliot. He says "This has come straight from T S Eliot; 'The streets that run like a tedious argument.' Now, that 'tedious argument' is so beautiful…I thought it would be best to borrow these lines from him and apply them to Ballimaran. I always acknowledge this debt. Such beautiful lines and so appropriately for the streets of Ballimaran!! Using those lines, is like paying a tribute to another poet." (source)

**This book by Gulzar is an absolute must have for Ghalib and Gulzar fans.

PS: I have taken a lot of liberty in interpreting this poem. If you have some other interpretations, do share those as well.


  1. "pecheeda daleelon si galiyaan"

    कुछ कुछ ऐसा साहिर लुधियाणवी ने प्यासा फिल्म के 'जिन्हें नाज़ है हिन्द' गाने में लिखा है-

    "ये पुरपेंच गलियां", ये बदनाम बाज़ार
    ये गुमनाम राही, ये सिक्कों की झनकार
    ये सदियों से "बेखौफ़ सहमी सी गलियां"
    ये मसली हुई अधखिली ज़र्द कलियां

    डोंट नो फ्रॉम वेयर साहिर बोरोड़ दीज़ लाइन्स|

    - अनुराग भारद्वाज लुधियाणवी

    1. I don't think Sahir borrowed :) they look pretty original to me!


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