excerpt from “In Memory of Begum Akhtar,” by Agha Shahid Ali:
Do your fingers still scale the hungry
Bhairavi, or simply the muddy shroud?
Ghazal, that death-sustaining widow,
sobs in dingy archives, hooked to you.
She wears her grief, a moon-soaked white,
corners the sky into disbelief.
You’ve finally polished catastrophe,
the note you seasoned with decades
of Ghalib, Mir, Faiz:
I innovate on a note-less raga.
As I start to learn Raag Bhairavi, I cannot help but return to these lines again and again. The raag is peaceful and of the dawn.