ik gard-e raah thaa pa))e manzil tamaam raah
kis kaa ;Gubaar thaa kih yih dunbaalah-gard thaa

1) there was, road-traversing, a single/particular/unique/excellent [thing], {before / in search of} the halting-place, for the whole road--
2) whose dust-cloud was it, that was {such a / 'this'} pursuing-wanderer?!



gard : 'Going round, revolving; traversing, travelling or wandering over, or through, or in (used as last member of compounds, e.g. jahaan-gard , 'One who has travelled over or around the world);— s.f. Dust; —the globe; —fortune'. (Platts p.903)


;Gubaar : 'Dust; clouds of dust; a dust-storm; vapour, fog, mist, mistiness; impurity, foulness; (met.) vexation, soreness, ill-feeling, rancour, spite; affliction, grief; perplexity'. (Platts p.769)


dunbaalah : 'After, behind, in pursuit'. (Platts p.527)

S. R. Faruqi:

To express the interpretation of this verse isn't easy. But the whole picture is so dramatic that to a large extent the verse seems not to be beholden to meaning. For pa))e manzil there can be two meanings: 'in search of a halting-place; and 'before a halting-place'. On the second interpretation, there's the suggestion that for the whole length of the road up to the halting-place, a hovering cloud of dust could be seen. That is, the speaker didn't see the traveler, but he sees the dust that's created by the traveler's passing by.

Since the traveler was nowhere to be seen, the suspicion arose that perhaps there wasn't any traveler at all, it was someone's dust that was wandering around in search of a halting-place. In 'dust' there's also the point that it's mindless, so that even if it would reach a halting-place, it's possible that it wouldn't even know that the halting-place had come. and it would keep on whirling around right at the halting-place and then go off somewhere else.

If pa))e manzil is taken in the sense of 'in search of a halting-place, then another aspect of the meaning described above can be seen. The road-dust was spread out over the whole road; that is, it was spread everywhere-- thus it's possible that it might have emerged in the vicinity of the halting-place (as has been described above). But it's also possible that the halting-place itself might be moving onward. The searcher for the halting-place has become dust, but not even that dust manages to reach the halting-place; rather, it is still searching.

It seems as if the destination is fleeing from his dust-- as his dust, in the shape of road-dust, moves onward, the halting-place itself also moves onward. Thus in the second line he has called the dust dunbaalah-gard , that is, 'follower' [piichhe piichhe aane vaalaa]. The dust is so ill-fortuned that however much it advances, it always remains behind the halting-place.

If we look at it from one angle, then the speaker of the verse is himself a traveler; he is advancing toward the halting-place, but along the whole road he sees a cloud of road-dust; the [other] traveler himself can't be seen. The road-dust is moving along behind him (it is dunbaalah-gard ). It seems that some traveler has wandered along the road until he turned into dust, and now his spirit (dust) is moving along in the form of a dust-cloud behind the speaker. That is, it's using the speaker as a guide to the road. Whatever may be the situation, the individual whose dust has spread in this way along the road and the halting-place can be no ordinary individual.

In the second line, there can be both a question and an exclamation of surprise. Between the gard of gard-e raah and that of dunbaalah-gard there's also the relationship of iham. The first 'road' is general, the second is specific. In the first line gard seems apparently to be masculine, but it's not. The prose reading of the verse will be like this: ik gard-e raah kii :tara;h ( jo ) tamaam raah pa))e manzil thaa , vuh kis kaa ;Gubaar thaa kih yih ( ya((nii is :tara;h ) dunbaalah-gard thaa . The force of the word yih is also effective. He's composed a devastating verse.

But in Persian Mir was not able to express this theme with such excellence:

'Oh Mir, who knows at all whose dust-cloud it is
that has become dust and follows behind the caravan?'

[See also {126,5}; {128,8}.]



It's an insha'iyah verse with a vengeance, and that haunting, unanswerable (or variously answerable, which comes to the same thing) question (or exclamation) in the second line fills the verse with a mysterious melancholy. Whose dust-cloud was it? Whose indeed! The possibilities multiply enticingly. Marshal your knowledge of the ghazal universe, look into the depths of your own mind and heart, and answer the question for yourself. And of course, you can and must answer it afresh every time you contemplate the verse.

The grammar too has been made a bit tricky and initially deceptive. Since gard as an independent noun meaning 'dust' is feminine (see the definition above), the verb thaa is confusing. In fact it renders the whole first line uninterpretable (whereas if there had been thii instead, the line would have been quite clear and simple). We know that we need more information (we need a subject for the verb), and we know we'll have to wait to hear the second line before we can get it. And of course, under mushairah performance conditions, we'll have to wait as long as is conveniently possible.

Then when we hear the second line, we realize that the subject of the verse has to be the ;Gubaar , the semi-personified 'dust-cloud' that has been showing itself as an extraordinary kind of mysteriously motivated 'road-traversing' thing. The gard-e raah confuses us because of its grammatical environment (it's not the subject of the nearby verb, as we first wrongly expect). Instead it's an adverbial phrase, and the real subject of the verse is the masculine ;Gubaar , which clears up our problem at once.

When at the very end of the second line we hear dunbaalah-gard , we're alerted by the dunbaalah and surely don't think the gard means 'dust' (except in a pleasurable but marginal word-play sense). So if we can say that in some loose sense there's an iham, it's not between the two occurrences of gard but is based instead on the enjambment and complex grammar of the first line.

As SRF says, ;Ga.zab kaa shi((r kahaa hai . (I'm delighted to have come up with 'devastating' to capture the sense of ;Ga.zab kaa ).