DEATH & GRIEF

Over the past two years the world has seen so much death and miniscule are those whose family has remained untouched by this pandemic. We all have lost a relative, a friend or even an acquaintance.

Alas life moves on for some and for some it comes to a complete halt with loss of one’s bearings but in either case what remains are the memories.

The moot question is how do we grieve?

George Bernard Shaw in The Doctor’s Dilemma: A Tragedy had said,

“Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

So when we laugh or smile, do we ever stop grieving or has it just been pushed aside for the time being?

Is grief quantifiable?

Is shedding tears a true barometer of one’s grief?

A cousin of mine visited a salon immediately after her father’s passing away, for her hair needed some touch-ups in order to look ‘decent’ for the condolence meeting. Did she stop mourning because of this or her grief any less?

Is grief directly proportional to emotional and financial needs?

How long do we grieve or what should be the mourning period?

Are those 13 days enough for one to stop mourning?

Do the dead keep living in our memories forever?

If yes then how long before it just remains a faded memory?

While we mourn the dead, do we forgive them too?

Personally for me each time I look back at some dead people, their evil deeds eclipses whatever good memories I may have had of them.

Nothing explains these questions better than the below mentioned three movies that deals with the topic of losing a family member and how each one reacts to it:

  • PAGLAIT

This is a film about a young widow who is indifferent to the death of her husband and unable to grieve on her loss. On the other hand are her in-laws who can’t get over the loss of their son and sole bread winner.

  • RAMPRASAD KI TEHRVI

This one is about siblings arriving at their ancestral homes on the death of their father. Each one trying to ascertain their financial gains, supremacy and it’s the grieving mother who is left alone to decide her future and legacy.

  • KARKHANISANCHI WAARI

This one is a Marathi film about a family who undertake a road trip to bury the ashes of the family patriarch and the custodian of their family land. How each is on this trip for their own gains mostly financial while the wife of the patriarch gets no time to mourn as she soon realizes the patriarch has a mistress tucked away somewhere.

Each of these movies showcases death and mourning thru a typical Indian point of view wherein entire immediate and extended family huddle together to comfort the mourning family. But it’s also the time skeletons tumbles out of the closet, relationships redefined, some new ones forged and some old healed wounds scratched opened.

Dealing with death is never easy but it is always there, staring right across our faces – ALWAYS FOR EACH LIVING SECOND OF OUR LIFE.

GHALIB KA TASAVVUR-E-NISHAT-O-GHAM

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Mirza Asaadullah Beg Khan popularly known as Mirza Ghalib in his lifespan of 71 years gave the world and connoisseurs’ of poetry works that resonates even today after nearly 150 years of his passing away. In spite of being born into Nobility with a high social status he lived a life of penury and an unhappy marriage. He lived to see the death of his seven children, the fall and the demise of Mughal Empire, the war of 1857 and the rise of the British Empire in Hindustan.

All this made him the person that he was and thus gets reflected in his poetry which offers life lessons that is even till this date can be identified by all sections of society from the nobility to the common man, from rich to poor, from the young to the old and from the believer to the agnostic.

To write anything  that has already not been written about Ghalib is a daunting task and more so over when it is to discuss his imagination of Happiness and Sadness i.e. GHALIB KA TASAVVUR NISHAT-O-GHAM , but such is the magic of his poetry that it offers different insights and meaning to the reader. The valuable life lessons that he offers can be imbibed my each one of us in our daily life. He took life with a pinch of salt, something that need not be taken too seriously like in this couplet:

  • ग़ालिब ऐ खस्ता के बगैर, कौन से काम बंद हैं,

          रोइए जार जार क्या, कीजिये हाय हाय क्यूँ …

  • غالبؔ خستہ کے بغیر کون سے کام بند ہیں

          روئیے زار زار کیا کیجیے ہاے ہاے کیوں

He writes, what is the need for such a hue and cry over him? The world wouldn’t stop if he wasn’t there and for Ghalib himself is in dire condition. What can be implied is that no matter what be the status of someone; however powerful and mighty people would continue to live their lives after they pass away as time and tide waits for no one, what has to happen will happen even in their absence. Ones happiness or sadness is independent of other’s existence the emotions felt will be temporarily but in the long run we all live on.

  • बाज़ीचा-ए-अत्फ़ाल है दुनिया मेरे आगे

         होता है शबो-रोज़ तमाशा मेरे आगे।

  • بازیچۂ اطفال ہے دنیا مرے آگے

        ہوتا ہے شب و روز تماشا مرے آگے

The poet says that world is just a child’s playground in from of him and games are being played daily. He watches the ways of the world and its inhabitants enacting their parts every day, he neither condemns or condones these actions because like the children’s games it isn’t permanent nor it is to be taken seriously thus we should sit back and enjoy the games people play and not to get emotional.

  • काबे किस मुंह से जाओगे , ग़ालिब?

         शर्म तुम को मगर नहीं आती

  • کعبہ کس منہ سے جاوگے غالبؔ

          شرم تم کو مگر نہیں آتی

Ghalib was never a practicing, devout Muslim man. He was an alcoholic and had habits that were an anathema to Islam thus he asks himself, with all this how can he ever make that journey of the faithful to Kabba that is the most sacred place in Islam and doesn’t he have the shame to take the Hajj Pilgrimage. To delve deeper into this couplet it also means that he is aware of shortcomings so to say and have accepted them and that there is nothing hidden from the Almighty. The God knows him and should accept him with all his faults and one shouldn’t moan of feel sad for their actions for God is up their watching all of us.

  • होगा कोई ऐसा भी की ग़ालिब को ना जाने?

         शायर तो वोह अच्छा है, पर बदनाम बोहत है.

  • ہوگا کوئی ایسا بھی کہ غالبؔ کو نہ جانے

          شاعر تو وہ اچھا ہے پہ بدنام بہت ہے

In this couplet Ghalib can be seen asking, is there even a possibility that there may be people who may be unaware of him and further goes on to add that he is good poet albeit with a little questionable reputation. He is aware both i.e. the strength and quality of his literary works and also his infamous and questionable reputation and sometimes this infamy takes precedence over his talent. So if there is happiness over his talent there is also a pang of sadness for his own character faults.

Like he was aware of his shortcomings and habits that were prohibited in his religion he was equally sure of his art i.e. poetry. When someone asks about him, he seems astonished and seems at a loss of words, like in this one:

  • पूछते हैं वोह के ग़ालिब कौन है?

         कोई बतलाओ के हम बतलाये क्या ?

  • پوچھتے ہیں وہ کہ غالبؔ کون ہے

          کوئی بتلاؤ کہ ہم بتلائیں کیا

He is amazed at the ignorance of the person for asking about him, for his works had been read and spread across the region and to answer such a question would be boastful. There is an element of ego, self appraisal and spite. He seems to be asking his followers what to answer to such a question?

When someone reaches exalted status in society it’s a presumption that the masses are supposed to have heard about him and to having to introduce oneself,   is task that gets difficult with rising popularity and on the corollary irrespective of one’s popularity there will be people who are still unaware and indifferent to your fame. In a way he is happy about the status that he achieved thru his poetry which has given him recognition.

  • हैं और भी दुनिया में सुखनवर बोहत अछे,

         केहते हैं ग़ालिब का है अंदाज़ ऐ बयाँ और

  • ہیں اور بھی دنیا میں سخن ور بہت اچھے

         کہتے ہیں کہ غالبؔ کا ہے انداز بیاں اور

Again in this one Ghalib is on self appraisal mode. He says that there are many great poets in the world but still people say his work is a little different. People following the same passion and art form need not be alike, each creates his own niche and his own followers and one should be aware of their strength to find happiness.

Ghalib though born in aristocracy lived a life full of struggle living off the grants of others. He travelled all the way up to Kolkata to claim his pension shared an uneasy relationship with his wife and survived to see the death of his children. He was imprisoned, condemned but still had the gumption to retain his feudal lifestyle. He is aware of his peculiar conditions and hardships.

  • हमको मालूम है जन्नत की हक़ीक़त लेकिन

          दिल के ख़ुश रखने को ‘ग़ालिब’ ये ख़याल अच्छा है

  • ہم کو معلوم ہے جنت کی حقیقت لیکن

          دل کے خوش رکھنے کو غالبؔ یہ خیال اچھا ہے

In this couplet he is aware that only solace he can get now is when he is set free from this life and reaches heaven. He knows the truth or the imagination of this promised heaven but that is the only comfort that is helping him lead this miserable life. In life sometimes only happiness that one can hope to achieve is the one imagined or a promise of a better life. Sometimes the present is so painful that an uncertain future is the only hope.

  • दे वोह जिस क़दर ज़िल्लत, हम हंसी में टालेंगे ,

         बारे आशना निकला उन का पासबान अपना

  • دے وہ جس قدر ذلّت ، ہم ہنسی میں ٹالینگے

          بارے آشنا نکلا ان کا پاسباں اپنا

Again in this one he is aware of being ostracised and being thrown out of his beloved’s place but again he finds solace or rather consoles himself that at least the gatekeeper is his friend. Even in difficult circumstances there is always a ray of hope and it is this silver lining that helps to tide over the difficulties.

In these two couplets the poet talks of hardships that one must get used to and have a steely attitude to face any adversity that they stop to matter anymore. One must face the obstacles in life.

  • इशरत-ए-क़तराहै दरिया में फ़ना हो जाना

         दर्द का हद से गुज़रना है दवा हो जाना

  • عشرت قطرہ ہے دریا میں فنا ہو جانا

          درد کا حد سے گزرنا ہے دوا ہو جانا

It is the destiny of a droplet to merge into the water and loose its identity and it shouldn’t moan about it as that is its destiny. The pain sometimes is so much that you tend to live with it and the absence is what makes life uneasy.

  • रंजसे ख़ूगर हुआ इंसाँ तो मिट जाता है रंज

          मुश्किलें मुझ पर पड़ीं इतनी कि आसाँ हो गईं

  • رنج سے خوگر ہوا انساں تو مٹ جاتا ہے رنج

         مشکلیں مجھ پر پڑیں اتنی کہ آساں ہو گئیں

Similarly in this one the pain once acknowledged gets easy and he faced so many hardships that it seized being a botheration anymore. He says we should face the adversities in our life head on and once we do that the sadness or the pain stops being impairment.

These above couplets fits into the dynamics of any relationship that is bound on the foundation of love be it that of romantic liaisons or the one with the almighty himself and the happiness and sadness is a part of life that we all have to live with.