Ghalib’s Message for the troubled times-Dr. Ajai Singh, Mumbai

Bazeecha-e-atfal I Ghalib I
Ajai R. Singh I
Recitation and Interpretation

Bazeecha-e-atfal and other shers
By Mirza Ghalib Ghazal 209 from the Deewan-E-Ghalib

Bazeecha-e-atfal conveys a kaleidoscope of imagery, emotions, thoughts and psychological insights.

It is the musings of a poet who has an exalted level of consciousness, which allows him to view the goings on of the world with insight and empathy, without the detachment that a yogi, saint or a Sufi mystic would manifest.
Ghalib remains very much connected with the goings on, yet maintains that distance which allows him to have a bird’s eye-view.
Distance without disconnect, about sums it up

बाज़ीचा-ए-अतफ़ाल बाज़ीचा-ए-अतफ़ाल है
दुनिया मेरेआगे होता है शब-ओ-रोज़ तमाशा मेरेआगे
Like a childen’s playground is this world before me Night and day, the same grand show, fuss and commotion (tamasha ) unfolds before me.

इक खेल है औरंग-ए-सुलैमाँ मेरे नज़दीक
इक बात है एजाज़-ए-मसीहा मेरे आगे
A plaything is the throne of Suleiman [Solomon] near me.
It’s just a talk, the miracles of the Messiah, before me.

जुज़ नाम नहीं सूरत-ए-आलम मुझे मंज़ूर
जुज़ वहम नहीं हस्ती-ए-अशिया मेरे आगे
Except for being a name, this universe, as a reality, is unacceptable to me.
The existence of entities therein is but an illusion before me.

होता है निहाँ गर्द में सहरा मेरे होते घिसता है
जबीं ख़ाक पे दरिया मेरे आगे
The desert hides itself in the dust [गर्द – becomes a trifle] because of me.
The river rubs its forehead into the dust/ashes [ख़ाक – becomes worthless] before me

मत पूछ कि क्या हाल है मेरा तेरे पीछे
तू देख कि क्या रंग है तेरा मेरे आगे
Don’t ask what is my state at your back i.e. in your absence.
You see what’s your colour in front of me i.e., in my presence.

सच कहते हो ख़ुद-बीन ओ ख़ुद-आरा हूँ
न क्यूँ हूँ बैठा है बुत-ए-आइना-सीमा मेरे आगे
You are right, I am blowing my own trumpet, why shouldn’t I?
In front on me, sits the idol I worship, who is mirroring my feelings.

फिर देखिए अंदाज़-ए-गुल-अफ़्शानी-ए-गुफ़्तार
रख दे कोई पैमाना-ए-सहबा मेरे आगे
Then see the flow of the flowery language that I speak.
Just keep a decanter of wine before me.

नफ़रत का गुमाँ गुज़रे है मैं रश्क से गुज़रा
क्यूँकर कहूँ लो नाम न उन का मेरे आगे
It only appears like hatred, actually its jealousy.
Why at all should I otherwise say, ‘Don’t take her/his name in front of me?’
Imagine someone praising Zauq in Ghalib’s presence, to which Ghalib says, ‘
Don’t even mention his name’. Or, vice versa.

ईमाँ मुझे रोके है जो खींचे है मुझे कुफ़्र
काबा मेरे पीछे है कलीसा मेरे आगे
Faith stops me when disbelief tries to pull me away.
The Kaaba [holy place of the Muslim faithful] is behind me, as I see the Church
[Modern Western influence] in front of me.

आशिक़ हूँ प माशूक़-फ़रेबी है मेरे काम
मजनूँ को बुरा कहती है लैला मेरे आगे
I am a lover, yet deception of the beloved is my work.
Even Laila bad-mouths Majnu in front of me.
[We expect a lover to be true and faithful, but he can also deceitful and full of guile.]

ख़ुश होते हैं पर वस्ल में यूँ मर नहीं जाते
आई शब-ए-हिज्राँ की तमन्ना मेरे आगे
This is a reply to the figurative statement, ‘I may die of happiness’, probably said when Ghalib and his beloved meet during a re-union.
One does feel happy, he says, but one doesn’t die of it.
And that reminds him of his desire during the nights of separation, when he had often entertained the thought, ‘ I may sie of this separation’.

है मौजज़न इक क़ुल्ज़ुम-ए-ख़ूँ काश यही हो
आता है अभी देखिए क्या क्या मेरे आगे
Alas, woe that these waves that are in full spate in a sea of blood remain only thus, and go no further.
[But it may be otherwise.] Let me see what more will present itself before me.
This verse must be interpreted in the wake of the bloody events of 1857.

गो हाथ को जुम्बिश नहीं आँखों में तो दम है
रहने दो अभी साग़र-ओ-मीना मेरे आगे
Although the hand does not have even a flicker of movement, the eyes still have life. Let the decanter and goblet of wine remain before me.
Even when all power is lost, the desire to enjoy earlier pleasures doesn’t end.

हम-पेशा ओ हम-मशरब ओ हमराज़ है मेरा
‘’ग़ालिब’’ को बुरा क्यूँ कहो अच्छा मेरे आगे
He is my co-professional, a co-believer and a confidante.
Why do you call Ghalib bad, and that too in front of me?
Or Why call Ghalib bad, why not call him good in front of me?
We are often prone to speak ill of a co-professional, people of our own faith, and also those who may be our close friends.
Ghalib reminds us to be more charitable towards them.

Concluding Remarks

Most ‘shers’ in this ghazal manifest the trivial nature of the activities that engage us, along with the massive ego that sustains such effort.

Dr Ajai R. Singh MD is a Psychiatrist, Editor, Researcher, Poet, and Ghalib exponent. Official website

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