Ghazal 15, Verse 10


maqdam-e sailaab se dil kyaa nashaa:t-aahang hai
;xaanah-e ((aashiq magar saaz-e .sadaa-e aab thaa

1a) from the coming of the flood how {joy/creation}-harmonied the heart is!
1b) as if from the coming of the flood, the heart is {joy/creation}-harmonied!
1c) from the coming of the flood, is the heart {joy/creation}-harmonied?

2a) perhaps the lover's house was the musical-instrument of the voice/echo of the water
2b) but/however, the lover's house was the musical-instrument of the voice/echo of the water


nashaa:t : 'Liveliness, sprightliness, cheerfulness, gladness, glee, joy, pleasure, exultation, triumph'. (Platts p.1139)


nashaa:t : 'Growing; being produced; springing up, appearing; —anything growing, or produced; —a product; a creation; —a creature'. (Platts p.1139)


magar : 'If not, unless, except, save, save only, but; besides, however, moreover; --perhaps, perchance, peradventure, by chance, haply, probably, possibly; in case'. (Platts p.1061)


[1862:] My dear boy! I’m in great trouble. The walls of the ladies’ apartments have fallen. The toilet has collapsed. The roofs are dripping. Your auntie says, 'Alas, I’m going to be buried under it! Alas, I’m dead!' The sitting room is in worse shape than the ladies’ apartments. I’m not afraid of dying. I’m anxious about lack of comfort. The roof is a sieve. If the clouds rain for two hours, then the roof rains for four hours. If the owner wants to repair it, how can he do so? If the rain stops, then everything can be arranged. And then, during the repairs, how can I stay there? If you can, then while the rains last ask your brother to provide the house in which Mir Hasan used to stay for your auntie to live in, and the upper room with the courtyard beneath in the house where the late Ilahi Bakhsh Khan used to stay, for me. The rains will be over, the repairs will be made, then the 'sahib' and the 'mem' and the 'baba log' will come back to their former dwelling. Just as your father has been my benefactor through his sacrifices and generosity--let this one more kindness be added to it in my old age.
==Urdu text: Khaliq Anjum vol. 1, pp. 398-99
==Azad's version: Pritchett and Faruqi, p. 490


That is, from the coming of the flood, the lover's house became an instrument of the voice of the waters, hearing which the heart feels joy and delight. The word 'harmony' has an affinity with the word 'instrument'. In short, the lover feels pleasure at his own house-wrecked state. (16)

== Nazm page 16


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {15}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

By '[musical] instrument' is here meant the jal-tarang , which is played by putting water in seven china cups and using a small reed [to strike the edges]. (33)

Bekhud Mohani:

In this verse he has drawn a picture of the ardor for oblivion, and worship of difficulty, of the 'people of the heart' [ahl-e dil]. (36)


HOME: {14,9}
MUSIC: {10,3}

I've given Azad's quoted passage from one of Ghalib's letters just to show how very much the life of the ghazal poet is not like the life of the lover-persona in the ghazal.

Ghalib loves the undecideability effect, and often forces your mind into ricochet mode, as he does here. Two of his favorite tools for meaning-creation, kyaa and magar , are both here displayed to full advantage. If carefully deployed, kyaa can generate three meanings: (1) an exclamation of emphatic affirmation for which we have an English counterpart (How joyous!) (2) an exclamation of emphatic denial for which we have no English counterpart (What-- joyous?! the hell you say!), of which an extremely clear example can be seen in {36,10}; and (3) a yes-or-no interrogative (like 'n'est-ce pas?' in French). The yield is three distinct, unforced, legitimate interpretations of the first line. I've discussed all this in Nets of Awareness, Chapter 8, p. 107.

Also very conveniently, magar means both 'perhaps' and 'but'. Thus two different logical relationships between the lines are effortlessly provided, and can be combined with the three possibilities of the first line in a variety of suitable ways; for more on such usages, see {35,7}. When the verse also contains words like 'heart' and 'house,' and 'water' and 'flood,' all of which are multiply conjoinable and opposable among themselves, the possibilities become astonishing.

Let me try to chart a few of the basic ones out:

(1a) and (2a): The flood plays the lover's house (body?) like an instrument, a jal-tarang perhaps: it delights the lover's heart with its siren song of the dissolution of normal life and all its sufferings.

(1a) and (2b): The heart is delighted to welcome the flood, even though it will lose the house (body?) that the flood had been using as an instrument to entertain it with.

(1b) and (2a): The heart is sorrowful at the coming of the flood, perhaps because it will lose the house (body?) that the flood had been using to entertain it with.

(1b) and (2b): The heart is sorrowful at the coming of the flood, even though it will be able to hear the music that the flood makes when it uses its house (body?) as an instrument.

(1c) and (2a): Is the heart happy at the coming of the flood, or not? Perhaps its house (body?) was the flood's instrument, and it will be glad to hear more and louder music as the flood approaches? Or perhaps its house (body?) will be swept away, and it will be sad (or glad?) to hear no more music at all?

(1c) and (2b): Is the heart happy at the coming of the flood, or not? No matter what attitude it adopts, it's clear that the house (body?) was the flood's instrument.

And then, of course, for 'happy' substitude the more evocative 'joy-harmonied', with its strong musical associations (not to say overtones), for further mystical nuances between heart and flood.

And also, notice the clever tense shift between the verses, such that it's hard to tell when the flood played music on the house (always? as it approached? as it swept the house away? after it swept the house away?). We are given no guidance at all here. Obviously, how we interpret the sequence of events-- playing music in relation to wrecking, losing, and/or drowning-- will multiply the range of reactions, and thus also the interpretations of the verse. And of course Sufistic possibilities are constantly welling up (sorry, sorry) from the interpretive depths.

Then of course, if you still have any interpretive energy left, the i.zaafat constructions in the second line provide further variability. ;xaanah-e ((aashiq can be read as either 'the lover's house' or 'the house that is the lover'. And the final sequence can be read as either (saaz-e .sadaa)-e aab , the 'voice-instrument of the water', or as saaz-e (.sadaa-e aab) , the 'instrument of the water-voice'. Further changes can of course be rung on these as well, and a variety of interpretive subtleties teased out of them.

It makes your head spin, doesn't it? At least, it does mine. And that, I submit, is the real punch of the verse, the real reason people would say vaah vaah!' when they heard it. That is also, of course, why verses like this are entirely untranslatable. They are really little meaning-generators, and the blur of undecideability that surrounds the orbits of the meanings is a large part of their enjoyableness.