Drink does stuff to you and not all of this stuff is bad. The falling of barriers, the removal of pretences, the shedding of inhibitions, the general cheerfulness, the straight-forwardness, the open-ness of the heart, the open-ness of the mind. These are not bad! The bekhudi
is important. Bekhudi. Being without yourself, going beyond yourself, surmounting the most difficult obstacle in your path, as they say - yourself. Losing your worst detractor. Be-khud-i.
I am not at all sure drinking is not a spiritual experience. No, no pun was designed for. Honest.
The drinkers sat around the table in an inner circle. The non-drinkers sat on the parapet in an outer circle. Some people had sung something and some other people were being coaxed into singing something.
Suddenly I decided to sing. It was'nt all that sudden. I had been drunk for sometime and me and another guy had pleasurably exchanged several favourite shers. Fairly good shers, I might add. Not the run-of-the-mill kind and not at all (and heaven forbid) the babbar-sher kind. In my drunken slowness I had been trying hard to recollect the first lines of my favourite Mir Ghazal. Pat it struck, and pat I decided.
"Guys, I want to sing a song" I said.
There was a bit of cautious cheering and I began shakily.
"Yaaron, mujhe muaaf rakho main nashe mein hoon"
(Friends do forgive me, for I a little drunk)
The appropriate-ness of the Ghazal struck everyone at once and there was immediate cheering and shouting. In sober circumstances this would have made me flush deeply, become concious and to immediately start screwing up the rest of the Ghazal. All I remember doing, however, is half-smiling, nonchalantly ignoring the wah-wah-ey (like Mir himself might have) and continuing without skipping a beat (the musical beat, not the cardiac one) to the next line which is:
"Ab Do to jaam khaali hi do, main nashe mein hoon"
(If you do pass me a booze-glass make sure its empty (or rather, fill it with water) for I am a little drunk)
"Yaaron mujhe muaaf rakho main nashe mein hoon,
Not bad. Not bad at all. The rhythm and timing, the taal
, seemed actually good. I was surprised at myself.
"Masti se darhami hai meri, guftagoo ke beech...
Masti se darhami hai meri, guftagoo ke beech...
Jo chaho tum bhi mujh ko kaho main nashe mein hoon,
(If,excited, I seem a little rude to you,
Go ahead, you call me names too, for I am a little drunk)
I actually seemed to be keeping an involuantary beat between shers. Timing the intermediate silence, something I have never achieved in sober life. I steal a look around. Someone seemed to be saying that I have a superb voice. Is this believable!!!
"Ya haaton-haath lo mujhe maanind-e-jaam-e-mai
Ya thodi door saath chalo, main nashe mein hoon,
(So Hold me like you hold your wine-glass
Or at least walk with me a while, for I am a little drunk)
This one was not that good. In my excitement of keeping the beat I was jerking my whole body to the rhythm. The poise was gone, the reserved arrogance was lost a bit. People behind were keeping the beat with their clapping. Don't think I wanted them to.
As I began singing the maqta, the last two lines, I felt a deep thrill. My first, concious, public performance, in recent times. And singing the maqta with the my second-favourite poet's name in it - a great pleasure, a great honour and a great responsibility. More so since I was drunk. My glass hand trembled a bit...
"Naazuk mizaaj,aap kayamat hai 'Mir'ji
Naazuk mizaaj,aap kayamat hai 'Mir'ji
Jon shisha mere mooh na lago, main nashe mein hoon"
(The delicate tempered Mir is not un-dangerous.
Like glass, so Don't mess with me, for I am a little drunk)
In the end I was described as one of the talents of the group. Not bad, I say.