Ghazal 20, Verse 5

{20,5}

yih kahaa;N kii dostii hai kih bane hai;N dost naa.si;h
ko))ii chaarah-saaz hotaa ko))ii ;Gam-gusaar hotaa

1a) what kind of friendship is this, that friends have become Advisors?!
1b) what kind of friendship is this, that the Advisor has become a friend?!

2) if only there had been some helper, if only there had been some sympathizer!

Notes:

Nazm:

The complaint about the friends is, why have they resolved on giving advice? (21)

== Nazm page 21

Bekhud Dihlavi:

Every friend has become an Advisor and exhorts me to renounce passion. If the claim of friendship had been observed, they would have treated the pain of my passion and thought of ways to restore the damage of grief. (42)

Josh:

What can be said about the pleasure of the speech! The countenance of the style is worth seeing. He says that the friends have become Advisors. (78)

FWP:

SETS == EXCLAMATION; KAHAN; SYMMETRY

Josh's remarks are as rhetorical as the original verse, and they also point up the degree to which the commentators award a monopoly to (1a), the more grammatically straightforward meaning, and completely exclude the equally possible (1b). But with only one meaning, where's the punch in this verse?

In support of (1b) can be offered the carefully contrived second line, which is equally applicable to either (1a) or (1b), and is ruefully amusing in either case. Whether the lover's friends become Advisors, or the Advisor becomes his friend, the lover is equally out of luck. They are all well-meaning no doubt, but they can't or won't give him what he wants. They are all trying to discourage his passion on prudential grounds, but he rejects those out of hand. He doesn't want someone to exhort and advise him to give up his passion, he wants someone to help him endure it, and to sympathize with him. His friends, who should do this, have taken alarm at his condition and have shifted to the Advisor's side; and/or the Advisor (who is given the plural verb out of respect) is offering him a well-meant but false 'friendship' that doesn't fool him for a minute.

And, of course, 'what kind of friendship is this?' might be more than a rhetorical question, but an actual exploratory one. In which case we could wonder whether one phrase of the second line applies to the friends, and the other to the Advisor, so that two kinds of friendship are envisioned? Or are both phrases applicable to both, since their behavior is equally remote from actual friendship? Ghalib's inshaa))iyah speech never will hold still long enough to be nailed down.