Hope, and a prayer

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 26 Dec 2018 12:02:58


By biraj dixit,






‘Mat puchh ke kya haal hai mera, tere pichhe
Tu dekh ke kya rang hai, tera mere aage’,

Mirza Asadullahkha Ghalib, the muse and the magician, the creator of many such fine couplets, versifies a pertinent problem of humanity – the closed arm conversations, the urge to know rather than to feel, to remain on the shallow surfaces of intimacy and never to give out wholesomely; to dwell on past and future and not to live up to the immense possibilities of the present.

As time glides into yet another passing and one more year bids farewell and as the world divides itself into more fragments, opening of arms and hearts could very well be what our world needs. ‘…Tu dekh ke kya rang hai, tera mere aage…’ can be a hard jolt to our post-truth lives.

The lesser-known tribe of admirers of Urdu poetry will pay heartfelt tribute to one of its finest voices on the 221st birth anniversary of ‘Najm-ud-daula’ Mirza Ghalib tomorrow (December 27). His verses, written perhaps in more turbulent times,in fact, are verses for all times. He, it is said, had seen the Mughal rule in its glory, its debacle and defeat and the British take-over of Delhi. Though living in happier pre-social media times, there must have been propaganda, rumours and suppressed truths and altered facts even in his times. While social and political conditions may appear vastly different today, human affections and affectations, faults and follies, love and life remain more or less the same. And hence, his universal appeal; he speaks for all times.

“Hazaron khwahishe aisi ke har khwaish pe dum nikale
Bahot nikale mere arman lekin phir bhi kam nikale”
(Thousands of desires and each strong enough to take breath away,
I had many desires fulfilled, but still those were not enough)

Sitting in the rosy bed of utter comfort, humanity is presently having its closed arm conversation with Nature. No amount of tsunamis, cyclones, floods, wildfires are enough to shake humanity into opening its arms to acknowledge that time is fast slipping by. There are some with honest, earnest efforts to contain the damage, but for others the opening of arm may mean giving up on a few of ‘hazaron khwahishe…’ Too much to ask, eh?!? Of course, commitments are being made, signatures are on paper, and wisdom overflowing but so are the glaciers in Himalayas and North Pole. Nature, too, must be musing in Ghalib’s verse…

“Tere vade per jiye hum to ye jaan jhoot jana,
Ke khushi se mar na jate agar aitabar hota’
(If I would have banked on your promise, my life would have been a farce,
For, I would have died of happiness, if I could have trusted you.)

Perhaps the most soul-stirring story of the year gone by is the horrific plight of refugees that have shaken humanity - more for its comforts than its kindness. Nations wage war, soldiers fight battles, men get wounded, women are robbed of homes and children robbed of innocence. Yet nations wage war for the ‘hazaron khwahishe….’ Debates on the fate of refugees are still on while they linger on the thinning end of a tenuous leash of human condescension in the name of mercy in refugee camps braving atrocious winters. All sides try and make a winning argument while those who are lost lose hope of ever finding their life back.

Saints, philosophers, poets, story-tellers are born to shake off slumber, to rekindle passion and to bring out the humane in humanity. Whenever they succeeded, humanity rejoiced. But in all ages, all times, indifference has been humanity’s greatest undoing. Unfortunately, that great lesson of history, humanity keeps forgetting.
Chipak raha hai badan per lahoo se pairahan
Hamari jeb ko ab hajat-e-rafoo kya hai.
(My clothes are sticking to my body due to the oozing blood,

What purpose would mending the collar now serve.)
The imagery created by great verses is meant to stir imaginations so that unspeakable could be avoided but if indifference lies in core of human heart, what imagery can shake it? Some shaken by the scene of human sorrow have forgotten borders and nationalities to chip in and help. Some others are still deliberating as the year passes by. Some have declared that that human crisis is not theirs to bother about.

With growing numbers of benumbing stories come more and more comments from hardened human hearts. Hard is the easy line taken by so many as the world, once proud of its globalised outlook, mutely watches disintegrating ideologies triumph. For a divided world it is very difficult to allow its philosophers and poets to win.

But such is the course of Nature that spring does follow every winter and hope floats. As a new sun touches the horizon ushering another year, it might bring along warmth of wisdom and kindness. Maybe our fragmented world, claiming high moral grounds based on religion, sects, culture and development, may in true spirit of a humble poet, sing

“Jaan tum per nisar karta hoon
Mein nahi janata dua kya hai…”
(I am giving my life for you,
I do not know what prayers are)
Some might laugh at this optimism, to hope that years of indifference would wilt in the warmth of new light. But so much like the poets, their admirers too are hopelessly hopeful and giving up is something they just can’t do. Efforts must continue to awaken hearts even in face of grimmest reality. For even to us indifferent humans, as Ghalib says ...

“Kaasid ke aate aate, khat ek aur likh rakhu
Main janata hu jo vo likhege jawab mein…”
(Let me write one more letter till the time the messenger comes
I know what she will write as the answer).