Ghazal 19, Verse 6


;xaanah-zaad-e zulf hai;N zanjiir se bhaage;Nge kyuu;N
hai;N giriftaar-e vafaa zindaa;N se ghabraave;Nge kyaa

1) we are a {hereditary / house-born} slave of curls, why will we flee from chains?

2a) we are a captive of faithfulness; will we fear a prison cell?
2b) we are a captive of faithfulness-- as if we will fear a prison cell!



The word 'we' is omitted. (20)

== Nazm page 20

Bekhud Dihlavi:

The verse is a two-part one; both lines have been arranged as equals. (41)

Bekhud Mohani:

That is, captives of faithfulness and prisoners of curls neither fear a prison cell nor flee from chains, because in passion, these things are constant occurrences. (48)


BONDAGE: {1,5}
CURLS: {14,6}

Nazm complains that the subject, 'we' (or conceivably 'they' or 'you', though these make little sense in context) has been left out, making it an 'omitted' word. He is the only commentator to make such objections frequently. This complaint of excessive compression is related to his famous attack on {1,1}, though it appears here in a much milder form of course. I can't see the problem in this case, since the verse is plausible only if said by a 'we', so there's no ambiguity. (The essential voice in the ghazal world is always that of the lover.) Even if there were ambiguity, why would it be more culpable than the many deliberately created ambiguities of grammar and structure with which Ghalib's verses abound?

This verse follows nicely from {19,5} right before it. If I'm a hereditary (literally, 'house-born') slave of curls, why would I flee from chains? I would not, of course, for several possible reasons: (1) the chains resemble curls, and thus remind me of the beloved, so that I welcome them; and (2) the beloved's curls confine me much more tightly and cruelly than any chains, so I won't even notice the chains. For another example of curls/chain imagery, see {36,4}.

Similarly, I who am a captive of faithfulness would never fear a prison cell, because (1) the cell reminds me of the familiar bondage of faithfulness in which I have lived so long, so I can't fear it; and (2) the bondage of faithfulness is much more narrow and straitened than any cell, so I won't even notice one more layer of confinement.

In short, chains and cells are like my present state of passion, but are also laughably feeble and trivial by comparison. And I either ask rhetorically why I would flee from them, or deny indignantly that I would. Just the usual inshaa))iyah language, and multivalent meaning-creation. And as usual, how well it works.