Day 13

Today's harf is one of my favourites - if one is allowed such a thing as a favourite alphabet, that is. The letter is zaal (ज़ाल in Hindi). The last alphabet of the daal (दाल) group of alphabets, the trick is to remember to distinguish words which begin with ''zaal'', with ''ze'', with ''zo'aad'' and with ''zo'ay''.
The peculiarity of the letters belonging to the ''daal'' group, i.e., daal, Daal and zaal do not change their shape, no matter which letter precedes or succeeds them. Let me warn you that this is an interesting rule of Urdu script which deserves several posts of its own: how letters change shapes.
Ah, zaal. Zaal gives me today's lafz (लफ्ज़/word): "zaat" or ज़ात. Pronounces z - ah - t with a sreally, really soft T. The word has myriad meanings ranging from "essence", to "nature", to "soul", to "property", "self", "substance'' and even "species".

I have picked a sh'er from a gazhal that's a particular favourite. It's been penned by Nida Fazli and goes:
Mere waaste tere naam par koii harf aaye, nahin nahin
mujhe khauf-e-duniyaa nahin magar mere ruu-ba-ruu teri zaat hai

(That your name should be sullied because of me - never
I do not fear the world, but your essence is present for me (at all times)).
The video below is a fine rendition of the Nida Fazli ghazal: "Tera hij mera nasiib hai / tera gham hi meri hayaat hai" by the late Kabban Mirza. Mirza, an announcer on All India Radio's Lucknow station, recorded only two numbers in his lifetime, both for the same film. His deep baritone would clearly not have lent itself to the usual lovey-dovey lyrics. But it rendered the pain and the desolation of Fazli's verse in a manner that defies description.

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