Ghazal 25, Verse 1


gar nah andoh-e shab-e furqat bayaa;N ho jaa))egaa
be-takalluf daa;G-e mah muhr-e dahaa;N ho jaa))egaa

1) if the grief/anxiety/trouble of the night of separation will not be expressed

2a) {unceremoniously / 'to tell the truth'}, the scar on the moon will become a seal on the mouth
2b) {unceremoniously / 'to tell the truth'}, the seal on the mouth will become a scar on the moon


takalluf : 'Taking (anything) upon oneself gratuitously or without being required to do it, gratuitousness; taking much pains personally (in any matter); pains, attention, industry, perseverance; trouble, inconvenience; elaborate preparation (for); profusion, extravagance; careful observance of etiquette, ceremony, formality; dissimulation, insincerity'. (Platts pp.331-32)


be-takalluf : 'Without ceremony, unceremonious, frank'. (Platts p.201)


That is, if the sadness of the night of separation would not be able to be expressed, then consider that it [i.e., what you saw] was not a scar on the moon, but rather a seal on my lips. (26)

== Nazm page 26

Bekhud Dihlavi:

If the grief and sorrow of the night of separation won't be expressed, and you won't listen attentively to it, then great harm will come about: the scar that is on the moon will become a seal on my mouth, that is, the way the whole world sees the scar on the moon, in the same way the state of my troubles in separation from you will be revealed to all. (51)

Bekhud Mohani:

If I do not unburden my heart of the load of complaint and lament, but restrain myself, then there's no doubt that silence will attach itself to me forever. And this scar on the moon will serve as a seal on my lips. (62)


Let it be clear that the scar on the moon and the seal on my mouth have no logical connection. Only the rareness of the simile is kept in view. (332-33)


SPEAKING: {14,4}

ABOUT be-takalluf : This protean little expression (see the definition above) can have three functions: (1) it can work as a stylized introductory formula like 'to tell you the truth', by describing the manner in which the speaker will be expressing himself (candidly, freely, frankly, informally); (2) it can describe, adverbially, how something in the verb will happen (abruptly, without ceremony); (3) it can describe, adjectivally, some (proper) noun in the verse. Needless to say, it can also combine some or all of these functions, or oscillate among them.

By placing be-takalluf at the beginning of a line, the poet ensures that the introductory-formula aspect will, on a first reading, present itself as primary. This is how it's usually encountered in Urdu, and its general introductory 'truth-claim' role is certainly the most prominent of its uses. It's conspicuous that Ghalib invariably places it at the beginning of a line, not only in the present verse but also in its only other divan appearances, {53,6} (which is framed so that all three readings are possible); {87,11}; and {220,1}. Even more conspicuously, he always places its more complex cousin takalluf bar-:taraf , which has almost the same range of meanings, in exactly the same initial position: for examples see {65,1}. (One unpublished instance with be-takalluf as the second word in the line: {379x,1}.)

Thus in the present verse the poet uses be-takalluf to create a small bit of iihaam , or misdirection. Or rather, not exactly misdirection, but redirection, or doubled direction. For when (after, under mushairah performance conditions, a suitable delay) we hear the rest of the second line, we realize that 'abruptly, unceremoniously' is exactly how someone would hastily slap a seal or gag over the mouth of someone who was on the verge of saying something unsuitable. Yet the 'truth-claim' reading remains perfectly plausible, and even creates an enjoyable affinity with the claim of thwarted expression in the first line.

As required by the rule of 'symmetry', both (2a) and (2b) are perfectly possible. In fact both are noticed by the commentators, although no commentator notices them both. Nazm considers that the seal on the speaker's lips might appear as a scar on the moon (2b), while the two Bekhuds consider that the scar on the moon would become a seal on the speaker's lips (2a).

For a similar confusion between a 'hidden scar' [daa;G-e nihaa;N] and the sun, see {62,8}. Such linkages between the lover and the natural world-- with preeminence given to the lover-- are a favorite of Ghalib's (on this see {4,8x}). After all, in {24,3} we saw that the sun itself perhaps shines only because it has begged alms of the beloved's radiant beauty.

Silence is virtually impossible, expression is longed-for-- so that if silence is required and actually achieved, it can only be by a huge cataclysm of some kind. And of course, the night of separation is just when the scarred moon would be the lover's only companion. Another cataclysmic way to achieve silence would be to attain a state of tonguelessness, as in {24,5}. But failing that, having a scar on the moon to seal your lips, or having your lips sealed so forcefully that the seal is equivalent to a scar on the moon, would probably also do the job.