Ghazal 23, Verse 2X


nah bhuulaa i.z:tiraab-e dam-shumaarii inti:zaar apnaa
kih aa;xir shiishah-e saa((at ke kaam aayaa ;Gubaar apnaa

1) it did not forget the restlessness of {breath/moment}-counting, our waiting
2) for finally it served as an hour-glass, our dust


i.z:tiraab : 'Agitation, perturbation, restlessness, distraction, anxiety, anguish, trouble, chagrin; precipitation; flurry'. (Platts p.59)


saa((at : 'Time; at hour; a short time, a little while; a minute; a moment; —a clock, a watch'. (Platts p.625)


My waiting did not forget its restlessness, even after counting breaths/moments. Because when I became dust, even then my dust served as an hour-glass. (58)


The meaning is that the habit I had in life of counting the hours of separation did not depart even after I had died and become dust, and from my dust an hour-glass was made. Because of the continuous falling of the grains, the hour-glass has been given the simile of restlessness, and the cause of similitude is movement. (44)

Gyan Chand:

Waiting for the beloved, we spent our lifetime counting out the moments. Finally we died, and became dust. Even now, the agitation of counting out the moments didn't leave us. Thus our dust was placed in an hour-glass, and it was used to count the time.

== Gyan Chand, p. 82



For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

This verse belongs to the 'dead lover speaks' set; for a full list, see {57,1}.

It's intriguing that all three of the commentators are careful to emphasize the way that an hourglass was used to count time. Perhaps they expected that some of their readers might not quite know. Ghalib himself may well have had the same expectation, so that the hourglass might have been something somewhat exotic. For in fact shiishah-e saa((at is a rather clumsy term, and doesn't have the feel of something worn down by constant usage. (Both Steingass and Platts give shiishah-saa((at , which is still rather cumbersome) Here it is perhaps acting as something like the proverbial 'fresh word' that is 'equal to a theme'.