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Ghalib's haveli cries for attention


ASHISH | New Delhi, February 15, 2012 10:56
Tags : Mirza Ghalib haveli | PIL | Delhi government |

Had Ghalib written in English, he would have been the greatest poet of all times, amongst all languages!.” Ralph Russell, an eminent litterateur, had opined. These lines are visible at the entrance of the Mirza Ghalib memorial at Old Delhi, Gali Qasimjan in the Ballimaran area.

The haveli where Ghalib lived during the last decade of his life is decked up with beautiful collection of various articles associated with the iconic poet's life.

The walls painted with his magical poetic work creates such a spell that the most effortless words that comes out are, “Wow!”. But wait! as I visit the haveli on Valentine morning to mark the 143 death anniversary of the greatest wizard of love, pain, emotions and expression, there is much more which happens to you when you dig deeper to feel the aura of Ghalib .

When you look around, you find only a few random visitors there.

While Stratford-On-Avon (birth place of another maestro, William Shakespeare) attracts close to five million visitors every year, which not just generates serious business for the UK government but also helps to keep the monument in admirable condition, but the footfall at Ghalib memorial is not more than a handful. And if you are one of those who think this is the best place on earth to find any book on Ghalib, you are again wrong!. Very soon you find out that bright looking place is just a patchwork.

Although authorities from Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) claim that there are two permanent guards at the place but they are hardly anywhere to be seen.

Precious handwritten letters and utensils of the era are kept without much security.

Activist Firoz Bhakt Ahmed, who has filed a PIL for restoration of haveli, says: “Although the ICCR has done a decent job but there is still a lot to be done. I have been pushing for long for library and computers. Even the area of haveli has narrowed down due to encroachment. I am demanding at least 400 square yards of area.”

Even more embarrassing is to see the encroachment on the roof which is being used for commercial and residential purpose. The heritage was found being used for reception party in 2009.

Despite repeated assurances by the Delhi government since 2009, nothing significant has happened to improve the situation. Underlining the immediate need to work in this direction, director of national council for promotion of Urdu language (NCPUL) Dr. Hamidullah Bhat says: “It is not just about the monument. Ghalib was the greatest symbol of harmony. It is important to preserve Ghalib to preserve the right history as the letters written by Ghalib are the first hand account of the days of 1857 revolution.”

Pathetic conditions of the heritage building may not grab attentions of the Indians but foreign tourists who travel to pay their homage to the magician of shayari are upset by the decay.

A tourist from Russia shared his experience, saying the place is in bad shape.

As the frenzy of the Valentine day ends, all I hope (or rather pray) is that the Delhi government will at least get some sense of responsibility and the place will improve. By doing so Ghalib's soul will also have a place to settle.

Ghalib wrote:
Rahiye ab aisi jagah chal kar jahan koi na ho
Ham sukhan koi na ho aur ham zubaan koi na ho
Be dar-o-deewar sa ek ghar banaya chahiye
Koi hamsaya na ho aur pasbaan koi na ho

(Let's live at such a place where there is no one around you. There is no fellow poet and there is no one who speaks the same language as you. There should be a home built without doors or walls and let's not have anyone to be together or to take care of you)

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017