Life History: Muhammad Akhtar Shah (pseudonym Saghar Siddiqui) was a renowned Urdu poet. In spite of his ruined and homeless lonely life, he remained famous. Saghar is also known as a saint and when he died, he left nothing but a pet dog. reportedly the dog also died just after one year on the same footpath where Saghar had died.
He was born in 1928 in Ambala (British India) to a middle-class family. He was the only child of his parents and spent his early life in Ambala and Saharanpur (UP, India). He was home tutored and received his early education from Habib Hassan, a family friend. He started writing poetry as a child. He moved to Amritsar in search of work and used to make wooden combs while writing Urdu poetry. For some time he used Nasir Hijazi as his pen name, but later he switched to Saghar Siddiqui.
In 1947, when he was 19, he migrated to Pakistan and settled in Lahore. In those days he recited beautiful ghazals in a melodious voice and became a huge success. He wrote poetry for the film industry and published a literary magazine. The magazine was a critical success but a commercial flop. Disappointed, Saghar shut down the magazine. In his later life, he fell into depression, financially ruined and addicted to drugs.
Saghar stayed in cheap hotels and would pay the rent with meager amounts earned by selling his poems to magazines. Sometimes he would have to sell his poetry to other poets for a few rupees. Some of these poems were re-sold by these people as their own work.
He became disillusioned as he saw corruption and nepotism being rewarded at the expense of genuine talent. In despair, he turned to morphine, buying it from janitors of hospitals in Lahore. As friends and strangers continued to exploit him, he fell further into despair and was soon turned out of hotels and had to live on the street as a beggar. He was often seen along Circular Road of Lahore, and in Anarkali Bazar, Akhbaar Market, Aibak Road, Shah Alami, and around the Data Darbar area.
He would often hold mushairas on the footpaths, in candle light. He continued to write poems, though most of them are lost and unpublished. Despite his shattered life, some of his verses are among the best in Urdu poetry.
On July 19, 1974, he was found dead early in the morning outside a shop near Alfalah building on The Mall, Lahore. He was just 46 years old. He was buried at the Miani Sahib graveyard.
Autobiography of Saghar Siddiqui in Ravi Magazine of Govt College, Lahore
French writer Julien Columeau writes Urdu novel about Saghar Siddiqui
“Yaad rakhna humari turbat ko….”
“Jiss uhad may lutt jaye faqiroun ki kamaai…..”
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