The rather bizarre news of a wedding reception in Ghalib's haveli yesterday shouldn't really be surprising. After all we are a nation that doesn't even seem to care despite the fact that earlier this year there had been reports of 35 "national monuments" having gone missing.
As a building, Ghalib's haveli has hardly anything remarkable about it, and it was just many of the rented houses Ghalib happened to live in. Despite the report, it does not really have any of the personal possessions of the great poet and had been done-up after much neglect earlier, at best as a tourist destination so that one gets to visit the physical space the maestro once inhabited. Which is, of course, not to say that it is perfectly okay for people to hold wedding receptions in it. What was remarkable about the story was how blasé everyone sounded. As a friend put it in a mail:
Sad. But the usual blaming of the govt. is foolish. After all, it was the groom's family that thought it was a splendid idea. Their guests were not upset. And sure no neighbor thought it was wrong. Parts of the structure are still held by some individuals who can't give a damn for Ghalib. The whole building should have been acquired, if the Ghalibwalas were serious. Delhi folks are not museum-goers, nor do they care for heritage buildings. So are the gentle folks of Lucknow too.
Talking of heritage and buildings, there is some good news about Ghalib's mazaar (do scroll down to see the mysterious sightings of his cat, dog and goat too!). Ghalib wouldn't possibly give a damn about either of the above two bits of news either and would certainly be happier if his poetry was read, recited and remained a living tradition. Talking of which, when the recent Liberhan commission was being discussed in Parliament, Congress's Abhishek Manu Sanghvi recited "gazab kiyaa tere vaade pe aetbaar kiyaa..." and attributed this Daag Dehlavi sh'r to Ghalib. No one contradicted him. He followed it up with a Mir couplet - or so he said:
nahii shikvaa mujhe kuchh bewaafaaii kaa hargiz
gilaa tab ho agar tuune kissii se kabhii nibhaaii ho
And many MPs -- I heard three myself in the course of one Rajya Sabha session -- cutting across party lines, recited:
tuu idhar udhar kii naa baat kar
yah bataa ki Kafilaa kyon luTaa
mujhe rahjano se garaz nahin
terii rahbarii kaa sawaal hai
It got to be so repetitive that one MP (Congress's Rajeev Shukla) who arrived late, and perhaps did not know how often the sh'r had already been quoted, was badly jeered when he launched right into it. But he wouldn't relent and carried on nonchalantly, "chaar baar bolaa gayaa tou ab paaNchvii baar bhii sun lo... "
I had meant to go over the proceedings to see which shaayars were popular with our MPs but somehow never got round to doing it. I do, however, recall at least one Ghalib sh'r was quoted by Najma Heptullah: aah ko chaahiye...And I think they did do "hamko un se wafaa kii hai umiid..." as well.