With the title, Nasir Abbas Nayyar throws a gauntlet in front of readers—it is not appropriate to think of him, Miraji, as a person, an individual, a shakhs. Nayyar qualifies this statement with the subtitle: readings of Miraji’s poetry and prose. The title is both literal and poetic, and in being both it does both. In the style of a statement in a misra of a ghazal, we can also think of it as a question, and Nayyar poses it between both meanings held by different positions on Miraji. The first is, do we want to question the idea that it is impossible for us to consider Miraji as a person in the ordinary sense of the word, or do we imagine Miraji as a character who defies the very notion of ordinary personhood? Hence the gauntlet—and in a way a mystery that Nayyar goes on to resolve in a wonderful book that reveals Miraji through what he said. By doing this Nayyar is taking on the portraits of Miraji that have stuck to the poet so closely: many of them written by Miraji’s close friends and compatriots and that I too have explored in my own book on Miraji.
October 2017, volume 41, No XLI