Ghazal 38, Verse 5


mai;N saadah-dil aazurdagii-e yaar se ;xvush huu;N
ya((nii sabaq-e shauq mukarrar nah hu))aa thaa

1) I, simple-hearted, am happy/pleased with the beloved's disaffection/displeasure
2) that is, the lesson of ardor had not been repeated


aazurdah : 'Afflicted... sad, dispirited, sorrowful; vexed... displeased, dissatisfied; weary'. (Platts p.45)


sabaq : 'Lesson, lecture, reading'. (Platts p.632)


shauq : 'Desire, yearning, deep longing, predilection (for, - kaa ), inclination, affection, love; fancy (for), pleasure (in); taste; ardour, zeal, eagerness, avidity'. (Platts p.736)


[1864, to Maikash:] {38,5}-- My Lord and Guide, don't be angry all the time. I've heard this [about your anger], and I didn't like it. So much so that I can't endure reproach. (Arshi p.177)

==text: Khaliq Anjum, vol. 2, p. 660
==another trans.: Daud Rahbar, p. 157


With that renewal of ardor that resulted from disaffection/displeasure, why would a repetition of the lesson be necessary? (37)

== Nazm page 37

Bekhud Dihlavi:

'Simple-hearted' or 'a clean slate' is what they call an ignorant man. He says, because of my simple-heartedness, I've considered the beloved's displeasure too to be a cause of delight and enjoyment. And in my heart I'm happy that the pleasure I obtained from one lesson of ardor will be available for enjoyment again. That is, when I have a reconciliation with the beloved, then I will again repeat the lesson of ardor, and those things that pleased me one time will again, that is for a second time, give relish. He doesn't even know that now a reconciliation won't be possible. (74)


Just consider my simple-heartedness: I am happy that the beloved has become vexed. Because in that situation I have more occasion to repeat the lesson of ardor. The meaning is that if she were not vexed, then I would not have more occasion for the expression of ardor. The pleasure that there is in complaints and laments of love and passion, people with hearts know very well. Thus on this occasion the poet too is happy. (122)



Here is a vintage example of a 'meaning generator' verse; for more on this concept see {32,1}. There are so many things we don't know that the permutations of how we arrange them will generate an indefinitely large supply of interpretations for the verse.

In the first line the speaker, the lover, describes himself as both 'simple-hearted' and 'happy' with the beloved's displeasure or disaffection. Here, the ambiguity is the relationship between these two traits. Just as in English, 'simple-hearted' can be used for someone foolishly naive and gullible, or for someone straightforward, guileless, sincere. Is the lover naively living in a fool's paradise? Or is he properly happy, as a true and honest lover may well be? Only the context can help us sort out the implications-- and of course, the context depends largely on our own interpretive choices.

To begin the second line with ya((nii , 'that is', amounts to a kind of bait-and-switch tactic. The ya((nii pretends to introduce an explanation, but of course what it introduces is a further set of multivalences. First of all, what is the 'lesson of ardor'? The ambiguities of the i.zaafat construction permit a number of possibilities (for further discussion, see {16,1}). Here, it could be a lesson given by ardor, a lesson given to ardor, a lesson pertaining to ardor, or a lesson that is identical with ardor. Obviously, the interpretive choices we make here will branch off into quite different readings of the verse.

And then, what is the relationship between the beloved's disaffection or displeasure, the lover's happiness, and the non-repetition of the 'lesson of ardor'? Is the lover happy because it was not repeated, since perhaps it was painful? (And was it not repeated because it was not needed? or because the beloved disdained to repeat it? or by happenstance?) Or is he happy (since he's a 'simple-hearted' type) despite the fact that it was not repeated? Or, to take another tack, has the 'lesson of ardor' merely not been repeated yet, so that he can expect it to be repeated in the future? If so, is his expectation well-grounded or foolish?

The difficulties are easy to see. Still, the commentators don't at all acknowledge them. Each commentator simply takes the tool-kit of possibilities, assembles his own preferred interpretation, and blithely announces it to the world as 'the meaning'. But actually to map out the whole set of possible meanings would be a complex undertaking. In a situation like this, it surely makes more sense to recognize that Ghalib has deliberately created a hall of mirrors and trapped us in it. If we wanted to get fancy, we could say he's demonstrating what the life of passion is like-- inescapable, ultimately incomprehensible, painful, yet fascinating and not devoid of pleasure. Like a :tilism , in fact (see {29,3}).