R.V.Smith, writer and veteran chronicler of Delhi writes an eloquent piece on Firaq Gorakhpuri a.k.a Raghupati Sahay in The Hindu (remembering him on his death
anniversary which was on March 3rd), wherein he reminisces his meetings and memories with the legendary poet. Here is a link to the article and below is an excerpt:
One’s personal memories of Raghupati Sahai alias Firaq are based on two meetings: One when he came to take one’s M.A. Literature viva voce, along with Prof V.V. John, and asked a question on William Wordsworth but cut the answer short saying, “Had your father been here I would have discussed the poet with him, but you are too young to comprehend the worth of Wordsworth, though you might wax eloquent on the likes of T. S. Eliot, without understanding what Omar Khayyam meant when he observed: “And a muezzin from the tower cries, ‘Fools your reward is neither here nor there’.” One now thinks that had the IS been around then it would have executed Omar as a heretic. Firaq Sahib went on to add: “Kya likhta hai yaar, kya likhta hai, hosh-o-hawas uda deta hai” (what he writes, friend, stuns the senses).
This was the same man who, while taking an English Literature class in Allahabad University, paused suddenly and went home to complete the last line which had been eluding him in a couplet that said: “Ai Hijr ki raat katne walon/Kya karoge gar subhah na hui tau”? (Oh you passing the Mecca-Medina like Hijri era night of acute anxiety, what would you do if morning did not come?), the other meeting took place earlier when he came to St John’s College, Agra for a mushaira along with Maikash. Students trooped in to see the great shair, tipsy and stumbling on his way to the rest-room. His pyjama string was dangling loose when a student pointed towards it. Firaq Sahib glared at him and remarked: “Udhar kya dekhta hai/Yeh nazr tau kisi mehboob ki hone chaihya thi” (what are you looking there for, this glance should have been for the beloved )? Everybody was stunned, though some were aware that Firaq could very well talk like that when drunk.
Firaq’s love for Mir Taqi Mir was so great that when he couldn’t sleep at AIIMS he told his caretakers, “Kalam-e-Mir sunaoo/Badi udhas hai raat” (the night is very sad, recite Mir’s poetry). He didn’t think much of Allama Iqbal, but Josh Malihabadi occupied the place next to Mir in his heart. Naturally, Firaq could not survive him for long.