Saturday, March 9, 2013

Do Gaz Zameen

Many a time,  I am drawn to the  story   How Much Land Does a Man Need?    by Leo Tolstoy , in which , the protagonist, Pahom under   promise of  getting  ownership of as much land  as he can cover by walking on a single day , i.e.   from   dawn to dusk  is taken so much   by greed that  he  drops dead  at the end of the  day  having been exhausted  due to walking /running over a long  distance . The story ends with the line  , “ His servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for  Pahom to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.” Here is a lesson which no one wants to learn and people are busy amassing as much as they can. Ataullah Khan , the   well known singer  from across the border,  begins one of his songs  with the words:
 “………….ban than kar aaye woh hamari kabr par,
or kahne lage muskura kar,
chalo iski kuch toh tarakki hui,
ek beghar ne achha sa ghar le hi liya,…….”

The lament of Bahadur Shah Zafar , the last  Mughal Emperor  of India , who was  deported by the  British    rulers  to Burma , died   there  and  was buried in  Yangon:

    kitna hai bad-naseeb zafar dafn ke liye
do gaz zamīn bhī na mili   ku-e-yaar mein ”

needs no  further  explanation.

These are three instances in which despite the pathos and the  inherent irony, the persons had at least  got  a place to “ rest in peace”. However even this much luck    is likely to   elude   many people in the not very distant future  if the contents of a  news item RIP? Not unless you've booked  appearing in the  Times of India a few days back  are  to be  believed. The news item points to  the necessity of  advance booking for graves  in the National  capital  to guarantee a  dignified burial – the price mercifully  a few thousand  Rupees  at present.

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