I met Ghalib* again last night,

Walking down the gloom-filled streets,

And with him was Momin* and Haali* too,

Talking about us* their souls were alight.

Ghalib shook hands, smiled and introduced me,

To the poets who were with him and then said:

"Friends, this is Muhammad Naveed Ahmed, who,

Travels back in time and who is a poet too."

"His soul often takes flight from his time* and comes,

To meet me and share thoughts, poetry and even wisdom."

Momin was elated for his spirit glowed,

And Haali was also glad as his mood showed.

And Ghalib told more of me to them, adding,

"This young poet comes from 200 years from ours,

Then looking deep into my eyes Mirza* told me,

"Are you willing to share some time with we three?"

I nodded my yes and walked with them,

I cannot remember how the moments went,

Slowly we trudged sharing poetry,

And what had happened and what would be.

From Karachi's silent darkened roads,

We, I saw, had reached the place,

Where lies buried a beautiful lass,

Who was the love of a prince in Akbar's* days.

It was a lonesome place and yet peace-filled,

And under the tree of her tomb we all sat,

The tomb -- where the remnants of Anarkali*

Lie buried as the longing of love unfulfilled.

For a while there was a stoic silence that spread,

All around us poets and then I saw how Ghalib wept,

Our telepathic clarity was responding well,

As Momin and Haali and even I too crept...

We all formed a circle underneath the tree,

That provides its shade to Anarkali,

And our minds in silence remembered her who,

Was persecuted for just being in her love true.

Her true love for Saleem, famous as Jehangir,

A prince and the son of an emperor,

Known far and wide as Akbar the king,

Whose rule was just for everyone, everything.

Yet, we, from the past and the present could see,

How Saleem had not lived up to his role,

And how Anarkali was punished by destiny,

And how in forgotten realms wanders her soul.

Then politely I sought the permission of my friends,

To ask some questions about true love's sad end,

To Momin I humbly put forward my first question,

How princely Saleem could his beloved abandon...

Abandon a beautiful damsel who outshone all,

As a court dancer in Emperor Akbar's hall,

For whose beauty Saleem lost his heart to her,

As she too returned his passion with the same fervour.

If this was so, then did he really love her truly?

You sir, Momin, I remember your famous verse on love,

Correct me sir, if you did not to your beloved say:

"That where there is none, you my beloved with me stay?"

Seeing him quiet, I turned to Ghalib and asked:

"Didn't you too mostly about your beloved talked",

He remained cool so I asked Haali and said:

"Didn't you too in your youth love a pretty maid?"

Then, it was Ghalib, who suddenly started laughing,

And Momin too joined him and even Haali smiled,

This went on for some time as I waited patiently,

For some wisdom they would surely share with me.

"Naveed, my young poet friend, even you do know,

That it's only a few of the many who show,

That Saleem's amour for poor Anarkali,

Wasn't as true as was hers for him, so...

"That's why did we choose to gather here and sit,

Care not for Saleem's princely tomb, ever do we..."

"We, my dear Naveed", now Momin explained:

"Were always to love true, that's why we reigned."

And as we continued talking about true love and lust,

Anarkali's soul looked like joining us,

She laughed at all of us and sighed,

"Love is love, as I have alwasy replied?

"Not just to Saleem and his father Akbar,

But to even the most common labourer,

That, just as Ghalib who's here once said:

Love is an undying flame which is never dead.

I looked at her and ventured to be bold,

And asked her about her and Saleem's affair,

My friends of yore preferred to be solemn,

As Anarkali decided to answer my question.

But she could only sigh and as I could sense,

She could find no words to say in defence,

But where she was struggling, all the three,

Mirza Ghalib, Momin Khan Momin and Haali...

Stood up and whispered to me: "Hurt her no more,

And Ghalib came forward and wisely told me:

"As time's span keeps moving on, only she,

Will like all true lovers, be Anarkali."

And as if to convey more, he went on to add:

"True love never dies though it drives lovers mad...

It is as immortal as Anarkali has shown,

That she was far greater in the feelings she had."

"The unquenchable flame of love enlightens her soul,

And see how its dalliance on her spirit does glow,

Look up dear Naveed", Ghalib shook my hand and wept,

"See how lovers like her in God's Paradise are kept."

"And the stars you see O my friend beyond our times,

Are all but stark reminders of our lines and rhymes."

Now Momin also held my hand and soothingly said:

"Anarkali lives on while mortal Saleem is dead."

Adding he told me" "Doesn't this prove to you, O poet,

That Anarkali has never had anything to regret?

That like Heer & Ranjha, Sohni and Maheenwaal*,

Anarkali is never destined to see herself fall...

"Fall from the Sight of the Greatest Above,

Who made us and this world so that we may love,

Everything that is His and be true in our claim,

And never for once let love's greatness be low."

Haali just smiled and I was at a loss for words,

Because I had discovered yet another gem of yore:

Anarkali, who was true in her love for Saleem,

Though the prince could never live up to her dream.

And as the Muezzin* blared out his call for prayer,

We knew that the time to part was quite near,

One by one we shook hands and Ghalib embraced me,

And Anarkali I saw wipe a sincere love-tear.

Then my soul returned quietly the way it had left,

And rejoined my body to continue its quest,

And though I knew the people of my time I knew best,

Like my spiritual friends I too will not pass love's test.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Completed this poem on the evening of September the 2nd, 2009...after keying in the lines composed some days ago. Tbis poem is inspired by the visions I often have or dream about while meditating on a topic. Dedicated to MSFM.
*All the names like Mirza Ghalib, Momim Khan Momin, Haali, Meer Taqi Meer, Khawaja Mir Dard and mine are poets while Anarkali is the most famous courtesan of Moghul Emperor Akbar's royal court and Prince Saleem aka Jehangir was his son and successor to his throne...some five hundred years ago. Anarkali and Saleem's love story is famous worldwide specially in India,Pakistan and Bangladesh. Her tomb/grave is in Lahore at a quiet spot...and her  true love lives on ...making her famous and famous over the years...while Saleem lies forgotten and dead in every sense of the word...because he did not prove his love for the damsel/dancer he loved in his youth...well let me not talk bad of souls that have their abode, wherever, in the vast universe of God Almighty.

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palewingedpoetess's picture

This poem reads to me like an epic ( just not as long) I must confess I do not know of these poets you mention ( other than you, my favorite poet winks!) but I enjoyed the tale. You asked about love coming to a sad end. Not all love does but you must remember men and women alike throughout the ages even today love always with flawed hearts that are guided by even more flawed, paranoid egoic self serving minds. I should think it would be near that to impossible to find truly perfect simpatico love. That your poet friends of yore should have hinted at as they were meeting you in pure soul form. Since no true light
could really be shared with a soul housed still in flesh
(as yours still is) many things I believe are meant to remain a mystery to mortal men and women. That veil of forgetfulness covers many an earthly tundra and idea on which we travel. Was quite beautifully written but then again I would expect no less from that well educated, thoughtful, romantically inclined brain of yours. ( handsome chap that it is! grins) I thoroughly enjoyed the trip you took the reader on in this but I must disagree with your personal comment on yourself at the ending. I think you have already passed love's test well, at least you are on a well footed path heading in the right direction and I'll leave that statement just as it is for you to use that big smart fabulous Homo Sapien brain you were given to figure it out. Thank you for pointing me to this. Is such a lovely piece. If we love as selflessly as we are able I believe at many levels ( of course not all) we can pass love's test. Our souls are tested for a great many things not just love but isn't that the love which no one carries ( Mr. Knightly said that to some effect I believe) Kindness too I believe greatly matters and you already know my views on being humble. Anyway my hat goes off to you on this. you stoke the fires of inspiration
when the mind grapples with the complexity in your meaning of this poem. That part of my creative mind adored this latest piece so thanks for that. you know who...... so why type it? lol.