City anchor: Lane and square named after him stand testimony to Ghalib’s fan following

Hue Mar Ke Ham Jo Rusva, Hue Kyun Na Garq-E-Dariya... Na Kabhi Janaza Uthta, Na Kahin Mazar Hota — Mirza Ghalib

(Disgraced as I have been after my death, why did not I drown in a river? At least there would not have been a funeral or a tomb anywhere)

The historic city of Pune, which otherwise has no known connection with Mirza Ghalib, has a lane and a square named after the legendary Urdu and Persian poet — something all Puneites may not be aware of.

While Ghalib himself desired an oblivious posthumous life as the couplet suggests, the Mirza Ghalib Path near Mahatma Phule Mandai and the Mirza Ghalib Chowk a little further down are a tribute to the poet by his ardent admirers in the city. Friday, February 15 happens to be his 144th death anniversary.

Standing as testimonies to Ghalib's glory and fan following, the lane and the square named after the poet believed to have found place in city's history way back in 1968, coinciding with the centenary year of Ghalib's death.

Late social activist and Urdu writer Mirza Hamid Baig was believed to be instrumental in having the lane and the square named after Ghalib.

Speaking to Newsline, Baig's son Mirza Ahmed Baig said his father had organised a special function to unveil the boards displaying Ghalib's name. The function was presided over by socialist leader Bhai Vaidya.

"The event was attended by noted personalities from all walks of life, since my father was very active in the then social and cultural life of Pune. He was mentor of the special committee that was formed to carry out social activities to mark the centenary of Ghalib's death," said Baig, who still has with him the invitation card for the function held over four decades ago.

Bhai Vaidya, who was a corporator in the late 60s, said the Pune Municipal Corporation had readily agreed to give Ghalib's name to the lane and the square. "Mirza Hamid Baig had a good reputation as an intellectual and a writer. He, along with the then local corporator Rashid Khan, had come up with the idea to observe Ghalib's death centenary. Out of my love for Ghalib, I happily accepted the invitation to become chief guest at the function," Vaidya told Newsline.

Veteran former corporator Rajan Kachi said the lane and the square named after Ghalib created awareness about the poet among common Puneites at that time. "The city was geographically very small then as compared to today. The lane and the square named after Ghalib gradually became prime places in the city," he said.

Hailed as the crown and glory of Urdu and Persian poetry, Ghalib (December 27, 1797-February 15, 1869) is considered as one of the most intense poets of all time, especially for his profoundly fresh commentary on religion and romance that raises many eyebrows even today.

Many Puneites, however, said they were unaware about the city having any lane or square named after Ghalilb. "I really did not know this. It is a big surprise," said actor Vibhavari Deshpande, who is fond of Ghalib's poetry.

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