Ghazal 3, Verse 10x

{3,10x}

tangii rafiiq-e rah thii ((adam yaa vujuud thaa
meraa safar bah :taali((-e chashm-e ;hasuud thaa

1) narrowness/distress was a companion of the road, [whether] it was nonexistence or existence
2) my journey was with the star/fortune/rising of an envious/spiteful eye

Notes:

tangii : 'Straitness, narrowness, tightness, closeness; scantiness, scarcity, distress, difficulty, want, poverty'. (Platts p.340)

 

rafiiq : 'A companion (in travelling, and generally), associate, comrade, friend, ally; a coadjutor; an accomplice, accessory, confederate; an adherent, a follower'. (Platts p.595)

 

:taali(( : 'Rising, appearing (as the sun), arising; --s.m. Star, destiny, fate, lot, fortune; prosperity; --the (false) dawn'. (Platts p.750)

 

;hasuud : 'Envious, spiteful, malignant'. (Platts p.477)

Asi:

Whether I was traversing the road of existence or the road of nonexistence, in both cases there was narrowness/distress. Narrowness was the companion of the road, and my journey was in every situation like the eye of an envious/jealous person for whom narrowness is in every situation a companion. The narrow-eyedness of envious ones is a famous theme. Mirza says in one place, {117,1}. (52)

Zamin:

He says, my star is the star of the eye of an envious one. Because both coming from nonexistence into existence, and going from existence into nonexistence, I've passed the journey entirely in troubles. And the life of an envious one is spent in narrowness and vexation. (30)

Gyan Chand:

:taali(( : a doer of :tuluu(( . In astrologers' terminology, the constellation that would show on the horizon at birth, or at the time of asking [some question]. Ghalib here ought to have written :tuluu(( , but through the coercion of the meter he composed it as :taali(( . The narrowness of the envious eye is well known. His destiny, or presiding constellation, too will be narrow. Whether I remained in nonexistence or in existence, narrowness stayed with me-- as if I was traveling inside an envious eye. The meaning of 'narrowness' is tang honaa -- that is, anxiety.

== Gyan Chand, p. 66

FWP:

SETS
EXISTENCE/NONEXISTENCE: {5,3}
EYES {3,1}
ROAD: {10,12}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

An envious eye is of course proverbially narrow; for another example, see {3,1}. The idea that the speaker's journey was always accompanied by the :taali(( of a jealous eye lets us know that his fortune was always 'narrow', grim, inadequate, grudging, rather than being wide or open. In fact, this 'narrowness' followed him around everywhere, and was always his companion on the road.

The irony is enjoyable, for a rafiiq is a loyal friend and ally (see the definition above). The speaker is so ill-fated that his faithful traveling companion, who accompanies him everywhere, is 'narrowness'-- 'straitness, distress, difficulty, poverty'. 'Narrowness' so constantly and devotedly accompanies him that its attention is like the fixed, spiteful stare of an envious person.

The term :taali(( also reminds us of the astrological sense in which one's fate is governed by the 'rising' of a star, from which the sense of fate or fortune is an extension (see the definition above). The round eyeball (like a star) of a jealous watcher might be 'rising' in the sense that it would initially be low on the horizon, that it would then be in the ascendant (with its power increasing), and that it would follow the wretched speaker 'narrowly' wherever he went, even apparently on his journey into nonexistence.