Ghazal 41, Verse 6

{41,6}

go mai;N rahaa rahiin-e sitamhaa-e rozgaar
lekin tire ;xayaal se ;Gaafil nahii;N rahaa

1) although I remained mortgaged/pledged to the oppressions/cruelties of everyday life
2) but/nevertheless I did not remain heedless/negligent of {the thought of you / your opinion}

Notes:

rahiin : 'Pledged, pawned, given as a hostage; a pledge; (met.) dependent, subject'. (Steingass p.600)

 

rozgaar : 'Service, employ, situation, business; earning, livelihood; —the world; fortune; age, time, season'. (Platts p.605)

 

;xayaal : 'Thought, opinion, surmise, suspicion, conception, idea, notion, fancy, imagination, conceit. whim, chimera; consideration; regard, deference; apprehension; care, concern'. (Platts p.497)

Nazm:

That is, 'In any situation, I didn't forget you in my mind'. (39)

== Nazm page 39

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'Despite the fact that I remained ensnared in the grief and sorrow of the world, your memory never left my heart at any time or in any situation, and I never neglected your memory'. This verse and the previous one are in an especially Sufistic style. (77)

Chishti:

With regard to construction and theme both, this is a verse of a very high level. For this reason it's become proverbial. (376-77)

FWP:

SETS == MULTIVALENT WORDS ( kaa , ke , kii ); WORDPLAY
SOUND EFFECTS: {26,7}

ABOUT kaa , ke , kii and their possible multivalence of agency: In English, we have both 'your thought' (located in your head) and 'the thought of you' (located in somebody else's head). In Urdu, however, teraa ;xayaal usually has to do duty for both. And the normal, 'least marked' usage is for 'your thought' to mean 'the thought of you', the thought that is located in somebody else's head. This usage is not invariable, but it seems to be primary; the 'thought that's in your head' tends to be conveyed in a different, carefully marked way (see for example {116,9}). This kind of cross-linguistic difference in usage extends to related words like 'picture', 'image', 'sight', 'memory', etc., and is a common source of confusing, misleading, or just plain wrong translation. This is something to be alert for, when translating or when reading translations. It's possible to find the same ambiguity in English, though not so commonly: consider 'His memory is unreliable' (as it exists in his own mind) versus 'His memory lingers on' (in the minds of others).

As a poetic device the resulting ambiguity is especially effective in highly abstract verses with no intuitive reading, such as {10,6} and {98,5}. Examples and discussion of such usages: {10,6}, with the interesting mirii ta((miir ; {11,5x}; {16,7x}; {19,1}; {75,5}; {85,4}, a clearly framed example; {98,5}, in which the dual possibilities of vahm-e ;Gair are very important; {138,2}; {157,3}, where 'my mention' means only 'the mention of me'; {157,7}, with its piquant use of apnii tamannaa ; {189,6}, with merii dushmanii ; and {229,2}, in which the commentators claim that tirii bazm-e ;xayaal refers to a gathering held in the speaker's own mind.

Note that the i.zaafat too can work in just the same way as the kaa possessive; see for example {73,4x} ( ;xayaal-e duud ); {98,5} ( vahm-e ;Gair ) and {194,5} ( ;xvaab-e zulai;xaa ), In general the two forms of possessive have a very similar domain in Urdu (although the domain of the i.zaafat is a bit wider around the edges, since it sometimes for metrical reasons may or may not exist, and also since it can accommodate an adjective).

For discussion and examples of this kind of possessive ambiguity in Mir, see M{745,1}.

In the present verse, the primary thing that the speaker remained attentive to was surely 'the thought of you'. But it's also possible that he remained attentive to 'your opinion/idea/fancy/whim' so that he could humor it in every way. For the inclusion of the idea of 'oppressions/cruelties' in the first line opens up the clear possibility that what's being contrasted is not everyday life versus (the thought of) the beloved, but the 'oppressions/cruelties' of everyday life versus those of (the thought of) the beloved. So perhaps in addition to the oppressions/cruelties of everyday life, the lover also experienced the exquisite pain inflicted by the beloved's 'conceits' and 'fancies' and 'delusions'. For more on rozgaar , see {20,7}.

This is a verse that offers not only wordplay but also terrific sound effects. Just look at-- or rather, listen to-- rahaa rahiin in the first line, juxtaposed with nahii;N rahaa in the second. They are not only complementary opposites in the semantic realm (although he rahaa rahiin , nevertheless he nahii;N rahaa ), but also wonderful permutations of each other to the ear and eye.

In fact, without the wordplay, why should this verse have much appeal at all? It's a verse that demands to be recited slowly, so the long vowels can be savored. Chishti describes it as 'proverbial'; it is still used in conversation as an answer when one is reproached for neglect, as Vasmi Abidi has pointed out.