The timeless Begum Akhter

Ghazals are an endearingly subcontinental art form. Based on themes of love, longingness , desolation, courtship etc, ghazals bring out the inner tender core of human beings, who are vulnerable beneath their veneer.

Recently, I had the chance to listen to Begum Akhtar’s ghazals sung by Vidya Shah , compered by RJ Sayema. It was a magical evening of emotions, and I found tears in my eyes. Sure enough, Begum Akhtar’s ( 1915- 1974) melancholic life gave rise to some of the most soul- stirring ghazals.

” Yeh dil hi to hai na sangkhist, Dard se bhar na aaye kyon.”

( This is my heart, not an edifice of stone, so why shouldn’t it be filled with sorrow?)

wrote Ghalib, the master of the ghazal art form. As Vidya Shah sang this song, I was transported into memories of Purani Dilli and Ghalib ki haveli, which was a kind of pilgrimage for me during my Delhi days.

Ghazals were introduced to my own life by someone I adored dearly, and RJ Sayema kind of brought back the memories of that person. As she exhorted us to leave our minds behind and follow our hearts, I responded and was rewarded by varied emotions that I thought were buried under the sands of time.

Love, the most endearing yet ephemeral human emotion, is a difficult to find yet universally sought entity. For a brief hour yes, but indeed, I was transported into the familiar arms of that emotion once more.

” Yeh dil hi to hai na sang khist, Dard se bhar na aaye kyon, Ro lenge hum hazaar baar, koi hamein sataaye kyon? “

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