A Broken Heart’s Musings – Awaargi In ‘Yeh Dil Yeh Pagal Dil Mera’

O love-lorn heart, has your carefree, gay abandon been extinguished?

Ustad Ghulam Ali saab’s  ‘Yeh dil yeh pagal dil mera, kyon bujh gaya awaargi‘,  a lovely rendition, in his signature style of combining melody with technique. That quintessential ghazal style.

Listen to the ghazal at leisure, but scroll down as you read for my take on the poetry.

Ghazals and Love, a beautiful combination of poetry and feelings. I have chosen to interpret this popular Ghulam Ali ghazal differently from all that is there on the web. What I write here is how I pictured it in my mind’s eye as I spent a rainy evening in solitude. It is not a translation.

A capsule of a description:

My Thought Lane

Unrequited love is the heart of the matter here, which therefore links all the expressions in the stanzas to a heart that pines for his love. The poet flits in and out of those moods, at times resigning himself to a ‘love’ lost and at others, dwelling in moments of the pain of separation. Ask lovers that have been separated and they will tell you there is a sweet something, even in the pangs. Is that why they cling to that pain for as long it takes? For, every memory that takes them back to the times of togetherness, they relive moments of love, albeit fleetingly. Even if at the end of it, there is a stabbing pain in the pit of their stomach.

Awaargi, to me in this context is that happy and carefree state of mind or solitude, where all that matters is the beautiful bond between two lovers. A certain naughtiness that comes from being in love, a certain detachment from all else.

My attempt here is to bring out the beauty in the expression of the pain of unrequited love. Hence, I have taken excerpts from the ghazal in the following couplets. There are many versions of the lyrics on the web. The one here is from the album I have.

Yeh dil yeh paagal dil mera, kyon bujh gaya awaargi

O love-lorn heart, has your carefree, gay abandon been extinguished?

Is dasht mein ek shehr tha, wo kya hua awaargi

There used to be a town here in this desert. It seems to have disappeared along with my Love. Has she taken it away with her? Is that why my heart has stopped fluttering?

Kal shab mujhe be-shakl ki awaaz ne chaunka diya, main ne kaha tu kaun hai usne kaha awaargi

Last night, a strange voice surprised me ; I asked to know who that was and it replied “your awaargi  (happy, carefree mood)” !

Here, the poet probably means that his love raises its hood now and then, refusing to die down. Reminding him of the youth of his heart. Surreal !

Ye dard ki tanhaiyaan ye dasht ka veeran safar, hum log to ukta gaye apni suna awaargi

These agonizing moments of loneliness in a journey that is even more lonelier in the desert. I am tired in mind and body. “How are you faring my Awaargi?”

The poet in conversation with his once happy state of mind. Looking for some cheer, wishing to probably go back in time. Or resigned to forever pine for his love.

Ek ajnabi jhonke ne jab poochha mere ghum ka sabab, sehra ki bheegi reth par maine likha awaargi

The voice replies : Hear my story. A soft breeze from nowhere touched me lightly and asked to know what had caused me sorrow. I replied, “I have become transient. I am a mood written in the wet sands of the desert, dampened by tears, likely to be washed away anytime. I am scared of losing myself”.

Kal raat tanha chaand ko dekha tha maine khwaab mein, mohsin mujhe raas ayegi shayed sada awaargi

The poet smiles and says : Last night I saw the moon in my dream and she appeared lonely in the vast expanse of the sky. And she seemed to say, “Mohsin, just like I am destined to be lonely up here and yet shine, so are you to a lifetime of having to live with and by your awargi. That will be your only solace to endure your journey”. So, despair not but walk with me for as long as we both last.

The ghazal tradition, Maqta has it that the poet mention his name in the final couplet of every ghazal, which is called the takhallus, thereby laying claim to the poetry and summarizing his feelings, Here, Mohsin is the poet.

I hope you all like it, this is my first attempt to interpret an Urdu poem and I enjoyed doing so.

Khuda Hafiz !


Guzzly evening turns Ghazal evening

Ghulam Ali Saab’s Bin Baarish Barsaat Na Hogi

There was promise of a rocking weekend. But it turned somber. In support of a few friends , who had to battle accidents and ailments , parties were called off and as we sat dwelling on the uncertainties of life , listened to music that went with the mood. It rocked my weekened in its own way and has lingered in my mind since…….

Listen to this lovely ‘ghazal’ , a rendering by the legendary Ustad Ghulam Ali Saab. Pours his heart out as he likens his tears to a torrent of rain on a lonely night and chides his beloved that has forsaken him. Taking you along his path of unrequited love in his signature style of combining melody with technique , that quintessential ‘ghazal’ style.

People from India , Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries are all so familiar with ghazals and music lovers of these regions have spent many a lovely evening attending ghazal concerts or listening to the melodies with friends and family over a drink or two. For those , ghazals are foreign to , here we go :

Ghazal is a poetic form , consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain , each line sharing the same meter. And it traditionally deals with one subject : Love. Its either ‘in love’ or ‘out of love’ ! The sublimity of ghazals lies in the poetic expression of both , the ecstasy of love fulfilled or the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain ! Unconditional love , celebrated , in other words !

A beloved that is unattainable , a beloved that does not reciprocate the poet’s love or returns it shorn of sincerity , or in cases where society and circumstances do not allow the coming together of two lovers , is the subject of almost every ghazal. And yet , the lover continues loving …….

This ancient form of poetry originated in ancient Arabia and the term ghazal is of Middle Eastern origin. The Sufi mystics and the courts of the Islamic Sultanate introduced ghazals to South Asia in the 12th century. Such intense emotions set to lilting tunes that sometimes wrench your heart and at others lift your spirits glorifying love. As tradition would have it , the poet’s name ( known as takhallus ) is always featured in the last verse , a convention known as Maqta.

Now a little about the Maestro : Ustad Ghulam Ali Saab , born on 5th December 1940 ( how privileged am I to share his birthday ) , is an acclaimed Pakistani ghazal singer of the Patiala gharana. The word gharana is traced back to the Urdu/Hindi word ghar , meaning house and typically refers to the place where the particular musical ideology originated.

His name Ghulam was given by his father , who was a great follower of Bade Ghulam Ali Khansaab , an unparalleled legend of classical music , hailing from Lahore.

Ustad Ghulam Ali Saab’s style and variations in singing ghazals is inimitable , as he blends Hindustani classical music with the beauty of poetry. Add to that the melody of his voice and supreme knowledge of classical music evoking pathos , and the listener could want to be in love ! That is the power of his singing ! He is highly popular in India , Pakistan , Nepal , Bangladesh as well as amongst the South Asian diaspora of the US , the UK and Middle Eastern countries. Indian Hindi film industry , forever celebrating good music , not to be left behind , used some of his hit ghazals in the movies , thereby popularizing ghazals and the Maestro even further.

Ghulam Ali Saab and Anup Jalota

Ghulam Ali Saab and Anup Jalota

My entire family has been enthralled by his ghazals , so much so that Urdu , the language of ghazals is pursued by most of us in order to understand the deep meanings hidden in the couplets. Such legends are a rarity , salutations to the Ustad for bringing much joy and music to our homes. A teetotaler apparently ( as told to us by him ) who has intoxicated many with his music and an urge to toast a drink or two to the art !

A note of gratitude to my husband , he is the one who introduced ghazals into my life !