Sunday, August 3, 2014

Daagh: Mere Qaboo Mein Na

Daagh Dehlvi (Urdu: داغ دہلوی‎, Hindi: दाग़ देहलवी) born Nawab Mirza Khan (1831 – 1905) was the only ghazal writer of the old Delhi school who could hold a candle to his mentor, Ghalib. Daagh wrote sensuous ghazals in the simple Urdu of the mohalla, minimizing, unlike Ghalib, the usage of opaque Persianate words, and laying emphasis on everyday idiom, though his work was usually paid for by royal courts.

Daagh was considered swarthy and unattractive according to the court standards of the day, so he chose for himself the takahallus "Stain." Compared to the elitism of Ghalib (who gave him lessons), Daagh's  'khayal bandi' was often labeled pedestrian by his rivals, but the simple playfulness of his verse found resonance with people in all walks of life. 

To understand Daagh's darting tongue and pen we have to start with his mother, Wazir - a dusky painter's daughter of questionable morals, whose life and times have been exquisitely brought to life in Shamsur Rahman Faruqi's Mirror of Beauty.  'Suitor after suitor flings himself on the beauty of Wazir Khanum, but she tries to fend off the unworthy, reserving her charms for the love of the noble (or the noble of purse.) When William Fraser, the Political Resident of East India Company in Delhi, tries to force his entourage into Wazir Khanum's residence, he is blocked by cudgel bearers deployed by Nawab Shamsuddin Ahmed Khan, who Wazir professes to love. One of Fraser's horsemen rides up, and demands of a mace-man: "Hey You! You pecker-poker of your own mother! Have you lost your limbs? Do you dare not give way to the Sahib Bahadur's Elephant?" The cudgel-bearer, a true Mewati, tall, muscular and hardened ... spoke in cold, measured tones, "Telanga sahib, do put a bit of rein on your tongue, and also on your ancient pony a bit. If you hustle it further by a hand's length, the point of this staff will sink into its jaded liver." The word 'Telanga' was a deliberate insult, for it was used for the comparatively short-statured, dark soldiers from the south who were reputed to be uncouth, and somewhat cowardly."'

Alas, after the fall of Delhi and Oudh in 1857,  Wazir Khanum's son had to find refuge with the selfsame Telangas in Hyderabad, where he lived till the end of his days (1905) and where he is buried. 

Here is Iqbal Bano rendering Daagh.

मेरे क़ाबू में न पेहरों दिल-ए-नाशाद आया
वो मेरा भूलने वाला जो मुझे याद आया

I could not calm my unhappy heart for hours
When I remembered the one who forgot me.

दिल-ए-वीराँ से रक़ीबों ने मुरादें पाईं
काम किस किस के मेरा ख़िर्मन-ए-बर्बाद आया

From my desolate heart the rivals garnered their wishes
O the use they made of the spoils from that store.

लीजिये सुनिये अब अफ़साना-ए-फ़ुर्क़त मुझ से
आप ने याद दिलाया तो मुझे याद आया

Now listen to a fable of separation
I remember it now that you remind me:

दी मु'अज़्ज़िन ने अज़ाँ वस्ल की शब पिछले पहर
हाये कमबख़्त को किस वक़्त ख़ुदा याद आया

The muezzin called to prayer just when we were to meet
Ah, the hour the fool chose to remember the Lord.

बज़्म में उन के सभी कुछ है मगर "दाग़" नहीं
मुझ को वो ख़ाना-ख़राब आज बहुत याद आया

In her embrace where there's all but Daagh (the Stain)
O how I remember that bespoilt bosom today.

The playful quotidian aspect of Daagh's verse continues to keep him a peoples' poet, the last of the great Urdu poets before Jigar, Faiz and Insha-ji of whom that can be said.

दी मु'अज़्ज़िन ने अज़ाँ वस्ल की शब पिछले पहर
हाये कमबख़्त को किस वक़्त ख़ुदा याद आया |

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