Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Urdu Poet Who Got Inside Courtesan's 'gharara': Mischievous 'Maulana', his antics and idiosyncrasies

Representative photo: A Gharara-clad woman
The immensely loveable Suha Mujaddidi was a unique Urdu litterateur in the sense that he was just 4 feet. Unless someone knew him, they mistook him for a 10-11 year-old boy.

Suha was too fair and looked like chubby child. Owing to his tremendous talent and knowlege he was fondly called Maulana Suha.

Another aspect of his life that attracts me was his colourful personality. Once on a visit to Lucknow, the group of litterateurs went to renowned tawaif-turned-radio artiste Gauhar Jaan's kotha.

Upon seeing her teenaged daughter, Suha rushed towards her and in a fraction of second entered into her gharara [similar to lehanga]. 

There was no electricity then and the mother-daughter kept screaming. 'Haai, bhutna ghus gaya hai' [the dwarf devil has entered].

Everybody was laughing and when after sometime they were told that it not a bhutna but a real man, a poet, the former courtesan got relieved. Soon they were giggling.

Another eminent cleric was part of the group that had went to the former courtesan's kotha. I wouldn't name him, the fact is that any scholar can be colourful.


In fact, his name is taken with utter respect, as he is now considered a great personality among the Ulema [clergyman].  In those pre-partition days Aalims could also be quite funny and interesting. One doesn't need to make a serious or arrogant face if he is a scholar.

Now a days, a religious man can't afford to be as naughty or mischievous openly. Suha was married to a tall and huge Pathan woman and he was an exponent of 'gaali' [Urdu laced with choicest Persian expletives].

The Maulana often hurled newly-invented gaalis. When angry, his amazonian wife, often lifted him and make him sit on the high loft in their house. He would beg not to repeat the mistake and when brought down, again started abusing.

Master of Abuses, Expletives in Urdu

Khair, Suha was a complex and interesting personality. He often begged women for 'bosa' [kiss]. Often tawaifs and someother elder women who were charmed by his boyish looks obliged him. He never cared for princes, rajas and nawabs and spoke his mind, even abused the mighty nawabs.

[Though in a list of Indians who gave innovative 'gaali' Suha can't find a place easily. Nizam, Abdul Rab Nishtar and Hamidullah Khan were on the top of an oral list compiled and reproduced often in Urdu books of the past].


A Nawab: Maulana mehfil mein khalal mat paida kijiye
Suha: Mehfil ki to MKC*
Nawab: Maulana mere viqaar/vaqaar ka to khayaal rakhiye, aap ki zubaan...
Suha: Aap kee viqaar ki MKC aur aap ki bi MKC aur.....
Nawab: Haaieen.......[shell-shocked]
Suha, walks out, leaving everybody stunned

But then the rulers of the erstwhile princely states who played host to him were also aware of his literary stature. Ironically, Suha died in misery. In a government hospital waitinf for medicines and proper medical care. The literary world cried and there was a feeling of outrage.

Bhopal Nawab Hamidullah Khan faced lot of criticism. The last rites were conducted by the state. But few remember Suha today. His Sharah-e-Ghalib was a pioneering work in that era. Ah! They were scholarly, they were social, lovable and also had all traits--positive and negative--which humans have.

Zameen kha gayee aasmaa.n kaise kaise

*MKC is the Urdu variant of m**%*r f%**er