Fani Badayuni…. Mayusi ka Shair

I came across Shaukat Ali Khan “Fani Badayuni” in an anthology of Urdu ghazals – containing English translations, but thankfully with transliterations – many, many years ago. It had a short account of his life but no detail on why he was so unhappy and the sadness that permeates virtually all his poems. It was a lot of circumstances – getting cheated of money and inheritance, a bevy of false friends who disappeared when the going got tough, lack of success at work.

It was finally the then Nizam’s Diwan, Maharaja Kishen Prasad, who got Fani a job in Hyderabad, where the poet lived and worked till his death in 1941. Living away from home, Fani observed:

“Fani, ham to jeete ji hain woh maiyyat be gor-e-kafan
Ghurbat jis ko raas na aayi aur watan bhi choot gaya”

I just remember referring to a Fani sher, while talking to a friend in the Urdu department and his immediate response was “Fani.. woh to mayusi ka shair hain”.

And that is true. See a reprentative selection:

A ghazal begins with the following ‘matla’

“Ik muamma hai samajhne ka na samjhane ka
Zindagi kahe ko hai, khwaab hai deewaane ka”

followed by

“Zindagi bhi to pasheman hai yahan laake mujhe
Dhoondhti koi heela mere mar jaane ka”

and the ‘maqta’ of the same ghazal

“Har nafs umr-e-guzashta ki hai mayyat ‘Fani’
Zindagi naam hai mar mar ke jiye jaane ka”

And one of his celebrated ghazals begins:

“Duniya meri bala jaane, mehengi hain ya sasti hain
Muft mile to maut na loon. Hasti ki kya hasti hain”

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