"Luft hai kaun si kahani mein....
Aap beeti kahun ki jag beeti"
"What story will more absorbing be...
How fared the world in which i lived or what fate hath held in store
for me."- Umrao Jaan Ada
The real wealth of people is their culture and literary work, which
reflects the times, the places and the people.
One such work was Mirza Hadi Ruswa's Umrao Jaan Ada. Auswa was a teacher
in mathematics, scince, philosophy and Persian. Ruswa was born in 1857
in Lucknow and his parents died when he was 16 years old. 'Ruswa' means
a person without reputation. After going through the book, many literary
mind felt that Ruswa could have named it 'Kahani Avadh Ki' or 'Sham-e-
Avadh' , because it is a vivid depiction of life in Avadh. But then,
'Sham-e- Avadh' or 'An Evenning in Avadh' means 'mehfils' of song and
dance and gatherings of poets and the literary-- a veritable celebration
of life.... And any such evening would be inconceivable without the
presence of Umrao Jaan Ada.
A courtesan and a poetess in her own right. Umrao jaan was a name to
be reckoned with in way description of life in Avadh. If Lucknow was
the heart of Avadh, Umrao was the heart beat.
When she first came to Lucknow, she was Amiran, the eight year old
daughter of a lower middle class family. Her father was a Jamadar at
the 'Babu Begum ka Makhbara' in Faizabad. A pious and simple man, he
gave evidence in a case against Dilawar Khan, a habitual offender. Dilawar
was sentenced to jail for ten years. After finishing his sentence Dilawar
came out, only to kidnap little Amiran, cart her to Lucknow and sell
her to a kotha owned by the astute Khanum Sahib. This was the vengeance
and a few rupees as bonus. "Let her suffer a death worse than a
death", he said.
A kotha in that age especially that of Khanum was not only a cultural
hub known for excellence in performing arts but also a temple of learning-learning
the art of living. As an inmate of the kotha, little Amiran benefited
the most. Khanum gave her the name 'Umrao', Bua Hussani brought her
up in style. Maulavi Sahib imparted education, Khan Shahob initiated
her into the world of music while the great Kathak Acharya made her
feet move to rhythm. In the company of Bismillah, Khurshid and Gauhar
and Mirza, Umrao developed varied skills including poetry. The pen name
'Ada' was ample proof of the proficiency in writing and presenting poetry
that she went on to acquire.
Graduating in years, Umrao became a range in Lucknow. A beauty that
was stunning, a manner that was enacting and words that was enticing
and words that were soul stirring, made the name of Umrao Jaan mean
sheer joy of watching and listening.
Stepping into youth , she had to seek the love of her life. His name
was Nawab Sulthan. With the whole of Avadh at her feet, Umrao craved
for Sultan's company. Somewhere deep inside her being, she had a dream
of a husband, a family and a home. She chased her dream from one end
of the rainbow to the other.
Would she realize her dream ever? would she come face to face with
Amiran once again?