From Left – Me, Father, Lal Aunty and Capt. BM Lal – During a Sher o Shayri evening in Rohtak. June 2005.
This page features some Sher O Shayri that I shared this summer with Capt. B.M. Lal, our long time neighbour in Rohtak.
Click Here (link not active yet) to read excerpts from the recitals or read below about my trip.
My trip to India this summer was more like an experience. I visited the Great Himalayas, took a trip to Mirza Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaara, Delhi, met many interesting people, saw some places I had never seen and sat down on a few occasions with our well-respected, long-time neighbor, Capt. B.M. Lal.
I refer to him affectionately as Lal Sahib.
I have known him since we built out house next to his in Rohtak, back in 1988. Of course I was only in third grade back then, but he commanded great respect from everyone. He is a a World War II Veteran, a Former All India Radio (AIR) announcer, and a Lawyer.
Ever since I started taking writing seriously, he has always encouraged me with his kind words and wishes. I must say I’m rather honored to have an admirer in him, especially for my Ghazals. During this trip, we set some evenings aside for some Sher O Shayri. My father joined us as well to cherish the recitals.
Lal Sahib is a master of quite a few languages, out of which Urdu easily tops the list. His Tarz (manner of speaking) and Tarannum (reciting in a singing manner) are simply astonishing. Not to forget the Ghazals and Nazms he still remembers back from his college days. A memory like his at the age of nearly 85 never fails to amaze me.
Out of many stories he told me of his college days, the most remarkable was about his college days in Lahore. Lal Sahib was a college mate of the famous poet/lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi. “Those days in Lahore were something else”, he often said. He told me various stories about Sahir.
Sahir was in love with a Sikh girl, but after it didnâ€™t work out, he remained a bachelor all his life. He shared relationships with a singer, Sudha Malhotra, but the one that quite a few people know by now, was Sahir’s love affair with the famous writer Amrita Pritam. A young Amrita Pritam, madly in love with Sahir, wrote his name hundreds of times on a sheet of paper while addressing a press conference once. They would meet without exchanging a word, Sahir would puff away; after Sahir’s departure, Amrita would smoke the cigarette butts left behind by him. After his death, Amrita said she hoped the air mixed with the smoke of the butts would travel to the other world and meet Sahir! Such was their obsession and intensity.
On many occasions, Lal Sahib recited poetry for famous poets of those days on AIR. He knew Amrita Pritam well and was her frequent announcer on AIR. He is also known to the noted Author, Naseem Mukri (daughter of the famous comedian/actor of the 50s, Mukri).
On those few enchanting evenings we had this Summer, I was fortunate to have a recorder with me, and I recorded some timeless moments of Sher O Shayri with Lal Sahib. Note that he is not a poet, but has been a long time admirer of Urdu Shayri since his younger days. When he opens his Diary and starts reciting out of his collection of Ashaar, Ghazals and Nazms, one can not help but get mesmerized by his Tarz O Tarannum. He lives a quite life with his wife, next to our house in Rohtak, India.
Haazreen ke liye chand Ashaar unhi recordings me se pesh kar rahaa hoon.
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Gautam Dhar ‘Zafar’
30 November 2005