it has taken me four years to do this. it has been a back-breaking labour of love, a dream i have lived with. sometimes, a couplet would not be difficult but some would be back-breaking. for instance, i spent months agonising over the first couplet in the deewan: naqsh faryadi hai kiskii shokhi-e-tahreer ka/kaaghazi hai pairahan har paikar-e-tasweer ka', jung elaborated.
here is a short story on how i became the correspondent of ghalib and the first translator of his diwan, in 2011. i was teaching at jamia millia islamia and i had no clue of who he was. my colleague, who was a hindi graduate from delhi university, told me to read his das e and told me that he was a great poet. so i read it and i was fascinated. i had read all his works, i had even heard of his criticism in din e murtid by akhtar saif. in the urdu universities, he was considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. but i never came across a translation of his poems in english.
he was from a family of affluent lucknow shopkeepers, who were not even well educated. this is where the story of how i learnt to translate him begins. my colleague got a translation of ghalib's din e murtid published by malik e amir and i asked him to get it for me. he kindly obliged. i was mesmerized by his poetry and i learnt his poems, fluently and my urdu grammar, and also learnt a lot about him. i started reading the das e in hindi and i was delighted. then i got a hold of some of his poetry in english and i was left speechless. his poetry was so simple and classical. 3d9ccd7d82