Ghazal 36, Verse 1


hu))ii taa;xiir to kuchh baa((i;s-e taa;xiir bhii thaa
aap aate the magar ko))ii ((inaa;N-giir bhii thaa

1) if delay occurred, then there was even/also some cause of delay
2) she herself {came / was on the way}-- but/perhaps there was even/also some restrainer/'rein-seizer'


((inaan : 'A rein; bridle'. (Platts 766)


That is, the Rival had stopped her. (35)

== Nazm page 35

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'You came as you had promised, but you came late. There must certainly have been some reason for this delay. Perhaps the reason might be that the Other stopped you from coming here.' (69-70)

Bekhud Mohani:

Cause of rhetorical effect [balaa;Gat]: at the time of saying 'someone/something' [ko))ii] there's an extraordinary expression, an extraordinary manner, in which are the moods of supplication, jealousy, compulsion, boiling anger, etc. In place of ko))ii , the word ;Gair [Other] could have been inserted in the verse. But according to the requirements of jealousy and hatred [which do not want even to name the Other], it was rejected. (85)


ko))ii refers to adornment and decoration, or to the Rival.... It's a verse that has fallen below the level of Ghalib's style and his lofty thinking. (174)


Another meaning of ((inaan-giir is 'a person who would seize someone's rein, in a claim for justice'.... It should also be considered that this justice-seeker too can be of two kinds. One is the one who seeks justice against the beloved's usual cruelty and tyranny, and the other might perhaps be some common man, some creature of God to whom it appears very oppressive that she would come in our direction; thus the common people were her reins-pullers: 'Why are you going to So-and-so's house, and was it for that reason that you were delayed?'.

But now there's another meaning, toward which Shaukat Merathi has lightly gestured. The beloved has delayed in coming, but entirely without reason. To keep the lover absorbed in waiting, to permit the hours of his waiting to keep passing, to pay no heed to the lover's waiting and his restlessness and impatience, to set out only when the mood strikes her, to ignore the constraints of time-- all these are coquetries of the beloved. If the beloved has come late, then no reason, no excuse for this is needed. If she came late, then enough; this was her pleasure. She's not bound by any time, any promise or vow.

Most of the commentators have taken the first line to be informative [;xabariyah]. But in the light of the above meaning, not only the first line but both lines of the verse become interrogative, and negative rhetorical questions:'If you were delayed in coming, then what the hell [bhalaa]-- was there a reason for the delay?' (That is, there was none; you are the lord of your own fancy.) 'What the hell-- was anybody a rein-seizer, that you became late?' (That is, no one was; no one would dare to lay a hand on your rein.) 'If you came late, then this is your coquetry, nothing else.'

== [2006: 58-59]



This is one of those verses in which tone, nuance, and subliminality are everything. The first line offers us an if-then clause: if there was delay, then there was some cause for it too. Anything to make excuses for the beloved! The lover is desperate to persuade himself that she did indeed want to come, but circumstances beyond her control held her back. What are the grounds for this view? None that we can see, for the second line simply intensifies the plea of extenuating circumstances by elaborating the point.

The second line also nicely plays on the double meaning of magar as both 'but' and 'perhaps'. (For more on this convenient duality see {35,7}.) It emphasizes the degree to which the lover's defense of the beloved is speculative, tentative, based not on any information but on desperate hope. The lover would actually rather believe that someone else held her back-- even some other lover (as the commentators emphasize)-- than entertain the idea that she herself simply capriciously or indifferently created the delay. Yet we in the audience know the beloved pretty well and we, reading between the lines, are aware that this latter possibility is much the most likely.

Or else, as Faruqi suggests, both lines can be taken as indignant or sarcastic rhetorical questions-- what the hell, as if she'd condescend to have a 'reason' for delay! As if she even needs one! As if she could or would claim that anybody else held her back against her will! (Would anybody dare?) It's all just her usual self-will and caprice. Compare the even stronger suggestion of sarcasm in the next verse, {36,2}.

The lover speaks of 'delay' in the first line, but by the second line it seems probable that she won't come at all, and that he is simply letting off steam (as Faruqi would maintain), or performing some kind 'spin' exercise-- on himself. (Consider for example {148,2}.)