‘Kitna Hai Badnaseeb Zafar’ – Bahadur Shah Zafar (1775-1862)

How wretched is your fate, Zafar!
That for your final berth
You couldn’t get in your beloved’s land
Two meagre yards of earth
Kitna hai badnaseeb zafar, dafn ke liye
(How are unlucky zafar, bury for-it)
Do gaz zameen bhi na mili koo-e-yaar me
(Two yards ground too not got street-of-beloved in)
These are traditionally believed to be Bahadur Shah Zafar’s last verses, although this is disputed by some scholars because they believe that he didn’t have access to writing materials while he was imprisoned by the British Raj in Rangoon. Whatever the case – whether he said these words or someone said it for him- the stark poignancy of the couplet remains potent.

Koo-e-yaar (street of the beloved) is a recurring motif in Urdu ghazal poetry. It signifies the company of the beloved.


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