In the City of Amir Khusro and Ghalib, where couplets are inscribed in the very air that you breathe, where odes have been written of unrequited love and the pain of separation from the Divine. It is in that city – Delhi – where the search for satiating one’s heart, mind, body and soul begins with verse and ends in verse.
In the shadows of her never-ending night, comfort is found in the melody of the Sher (the couplet) and love is found in the incandescence emanating from the Shayar (the poet). That City is this City – she seduces, she forgives, she is Delhi, where the melodious cries of the poet and his quill are unrelenting, unconditional and unflinching.
In those structures of yester-year, where self-doubt and neglect were present, these words are through which love and its quest found immortality. Where love became unbound by society, time or place, by propriety or by circumstance. Where love constantly evaded definition, yet was celebrated through the experiences of the lover and the beloved. The gestures, the silences, the words, and the separation, all encompassed in a look, a smile, a tear or a sigh!
My journey with these poets, the anonymous and the known, began with my Nana (maternal grandfather), who you could call my guide and teacher. He would sit me down and teach me couplets in Urdu, Arabic, Farsi and Pashto, he would tell me, repetition is the key to learning. And when I’d ask him – “Nana what does this mean” – he would say, “Don’t worry little one, time and your soul will reveal them for you”. His words proved themselves, over time as my soul began to awaken. With every couplet, doha, poem and line I repeated, an aspect of self and the other began to be revealed. I soon realised – encompassed in these lines of solitude is a devotion to self, other and the Divine. It is that which we feel but cannot express, that which we taste but cannot describe and that which we long for but do not yet know, that is the Love they talk of, that is the love they walk with and that is the love eternal that shall never be felled.
In the Great Sufi, Spiritualist, Singer, Teacher, Mystic and Poet – Amir Khusro Dehlawi’s words,
“Khusro darya prem ka, ulti wa ki dhaar,
Jo utra so doob gaya, jo dooba so paar.”
Oh Khusro, the river of love, runs in strange directions.
One who jumps into it drowns, (but) the one who drowns, gets across.