No home yet for Mirza Ghalib in Agra, his birthplace

The Taj city’s poetry lovers and literati on Sunday paid glowing tributes to Mirza Ghalib, the doyen of the Urdu literature, on his birth anniversary, even as big programmes could not be held due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The people participated in group discussions, and also made their presence felt on social media platforms on the occasion, while demanding Bharat Ratna award and the raising of a fitting memorial to the great Urdu poet whose birthday was celebrated on Sunday.

Mirza Asad Ullah Khan ‘Ghalib’ was born in the Kalan Mahal area of Agra in 1797. He moved to Delhi where his poetic talent blossomed and found new expression. His rich contribution to Urdu ‘adab’ continues to inspire poets till day.

“Minus Ghalib, Meer and Nazir Akbarabadi, all from the Taj city, what would be left in Urdu literature. Unfortunately, due to lack of patronage, Urdu language and poetry both have suffered and Agra stands as a virtual wasteland in terms of creativity,” said poetry lover Sudhir Gupta.

Had it not been for the Bollywood film industry, the language of romance and ‘tehzeeb’ would have by now become extinct, lamented culture critic Mahesh Dhakar.

Many attempts have been made in the past to name a busy road crossing or a park after the poet.

Demands have also been made to provide Ghalib a home in his place of birth, but no action has been taken so far by any government.

Tourists from many parts of India and NRIs continue to look for the ancestral haveli where the doyen of Urdu poetry was born in 1797.

For years, fans of Mirza Ghalib and literary experts in the city of the Taj have been demanding a fitting memorial for the great poet, but there have only been assurances and promises from official quarters.

The municipal corporation has been dragging its feet on a resolution to re-name Bhagwan Talkies crossing as Mirza Ghalib circle.

A proposal to set up a Mirza Ghalib chair at the Agra University to promote Urdu literature has also been gathering dust.

Similarly the haveli in the Kala Mahal area of the city where Ghalib was born was to be acquired by the Uttar Pradesh government when Mulayam Singh Yadav was the Chief Minister, but now no one talks about it, lamented Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.

Sharma said “the house where Ghalib was born should be converted into a national memorial for a poet whose contribution has been as high to Urdu as Shakespeare’s to English literature”.

“Unfortunately despite our persistent demands over the years this city does not have a proper memorial to Meer, Nazir and Ghalib, all three had an association with the city of the Taj Mahal,” Sharma said.

Some literary critics also lamented the falling standards of Urdu literature which have unfortunately been aligned with a particular community.

However, the patronage the Urdu poetry received from Bollywood has indirectly helped to revive interest in the language, they added.