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Not a Sen-sible move

The beautiful house of Meera Sen, the fabled love interest and muse of renowned Urdu poet Meeraji, is the latest casualty of the Orange Line Metro Train’s demolition spree. Does anyone care?

Not a Sen-sible move
Meera Sen lived in the house right across Jain Mandar. — Photos by Rahat Dar

Meera Sen was a Bengali but she lived in Lahore because her father, an accounts officer, was posted here. On one fateful day, Mohammed Sanaullah Saani Dar set his eyes on her. He was instantly captivated and fell head over heels in love with her.

The kind of person that he was, it must have taken some effort on Dar’s part to declare his love for this young woman from the other side of the sub continent. Or, it could have been that the declaration of love was never made while his vaulting love fed upon itself to totally possess him.

He may have thought in those frenzied days and nights that the declaration of love had actually been made and that he now awaited a response from her.

It may have taken him days, months and years, and this time was sufficient for him to stew in his own emotional turmoil. He must have been so fraught that he started calling himself by her name and his obsession so overwhelming that his friends and confidants also teased him by her name.

But all this was acceptable to him and he must have loved it. The change of name from Mohammed Sanaullah Saani Dar to Meeraji was, thus, no accident, a matter of chance or a sudden happening. It was that he was totally ‘dyed in her hue’ and overhauled himself into her body and soul.

Obviously, this love had more chances of being unsuccessful than being realised in flesh and blood. She was a Hindu and he a Muslim, she was a “Bengalun” and he a Kashmiri Punjabi. Besides, she was from a household that was mainstream whereas Dar had chosen a life that landed him right in the capital of Bohemia.

And Meeraji, too, in his heart of hearts may have wished the love to be unrequited for that is what fuelled the extreme social behaviour and the lifestyle that he adopted and relished in.large-Meeraji

He was the prototype of an artiste, the poet totally oblivious of the here and now and the pressures of social existence. He became an outcast, a rebel, a non conformist to the extreme and just wrote poetry and indulged in artistic pursuits. Unconcerned about the entire world except holding on to the memory of the woman he loved.

Meera Sen lived in the house opposite Jain Mandar that was very recently demolished in a ruthless and, perhaps, a mindless pursuit of making a modern transport system for the city of Lahore. The same place where he must have caught her glimpses in the beautiful wooden jharokas, spied on her sighing, followed her around not wanting to be known, nurturing the great passion, luckily transforming all this lava in the cauldron of his poetical outpourings.

The name Meera Sen took him to Meera Bai, another iconoclast who upturned the gender prototypes, denouncing the role of princess that inheritance and marriage had bestowed upon her to live a life of an outcast, an ascetic, singing and dancing to woe Krishen in the sands of Rajasthan. Her poetry inspired Meeraji because it was also a reflection of a “dast nawardi” with no “manzil” in sight.

It seemed no “nishan e manzil” was intended or desired either. The rhythmic patterns of bhajans and folk poetry informed the free verse of Meeraji.

Now that the house has been demolished, the jharokas that held the secret are gone too.

Now that the house has been demolished, the jharokas that held the secret are gone too.

But we never needed that house or that space, so there was no desire to keep it as it served no purpose. We do not even know who Meeraji was and there was no effort made to discover his muse. Who is pushed about poets and their poetry anyway?

Meeraji, at best, was an unsuccessful man who even in the eyes of the eccentrics was beyond redemption. After 1941, he said goodbye to Lahore. There was no Meera Sen to hold him back, so he went off to Delhi and, five year later, moved to Bombay. In 1949, he passed away and was buried in the Meeran Line graveyard. He was 37 years of age.

Now that the house has been demolished, the walls that held the secret are gone too. What transpired between the two — or her family and his — if it ever did happen, has been silenced for ever. The mystery should be buried in the rabble once and for all.

Sarwat Ali

sarwatali
The author is a culture critic based in Lahore

One comment

  • Heart wrenching….

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