He had an unhappy married life. Unlike himself, his wife was a devout practicing Muslim. He had a short lived affair with a singer that ended when the lady died young.
His circumstances improved for a brief interval when he was appointed to correct the poetic compositions of Bahadur Shah, the last Mughal emperor. But the revolt of 1857 put an end to it. For two years Ghalib went about in fear of his life as the vindictive British went about hanging out of hand everyone who was in any way associated with the Mughal court.
Ghalib's Persian poetry explores myriad concepts of love, passion, ecstasy, self-realization, life, death, religions and mysticism. At times irreverent, at others passionate and rapturous, Ghalib's poems manage to capture his mystic thought with boldness and clarity, often reminding one of Rumi. His questioning of organized religions, his syncretic appeal to all faiths must have riled many of the contemporary contractors of religion.
Ghalib prided himself on the merit of his Persian verses. The corpus of Ghalib's Urdu poetry is small but the volume of his Persian verses much larger. In many of his verses he regrets that he was not born in Iran where he thought his poetry would have been better understood and appreciated. It is an irony of fate, that while a large number of translations of his Urdu poetry in various languages of the world have been proliferating, there is hardly any good translation of his Persian verses.
Moosa Raza has made an attempt to fill this lacuna. 'The Smile on Sorrow's Lips' contains over four hundred selected Persian couplets of Ghalib, rendered into Urdu verse and into English.
A lifelong student of Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English languages, Moosa Raza distinguished himself in the civil service of India and was conferred one of the highest civilian awards, Padma Bhushan, by the President of India, for his distinguished services to the nation.
His published works include a memoir of his early years in service, "Of Nawabs and Nightingales", a book on comparative religion "In Search of Oneness" and a volume of Urdu poems "Khwab-e-Natamam" (Unfulfilled Dreams). He continues to read and write in both English and Urdu.