Ghazal 46, Verse 7


puuchhte hai;N vuh kih ;Gaalib kaun hai
ko))ii batlaa))o kih ham batlaa))e;N kyaa

1) {that one asks / they ask}, 'Who is Ghalib?'

2a) someone tell [us], what should we say?
2b) someone tell [us]-- should we tell?
2c) someone tell [that person], 'As if we would tell!'
2d) someone tell [that person], 'What can we say?'
2e) let someone tell [that person], since we would hardly tell [him]!



In such a place ham batlaa))e;N kyaa is an idiom, in which the asker deliberately becomes ignorant. That is, he is surprised that the asker has forgotten Ghalib in such a way, as if anybody wouldn't know him at all. (42)

== Nazm page 42


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {46}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

In this closing-verse two meanings arise, and both are not devoid of pleasure. One meaning is that she inquires, who is Ghalib and what kind of man is he? His words are in search of advice-- shall we say quite plainly that he is your lover and has given his heart to you? There would be no harm in this? The second meaning that arises is that she knows Ghalib very well indeed and still asks; that is, she shows feigned ignorance. Now let someone give us advice, as to what answer we should give her. (84)

Bekhud Mohani:

This is not a verse, it's an album in which the beloved's indifference and enjoyment of tyranny and disdain are pictured, and it's a mirror of the lover's self-sacrifice and helplessness and despair and misery and deceivedness and faithfulness and wretched condition. There are many interpretations of it.

Solution 1: The beloved asked, who is this Ghalib? The lover is present right there. He asks the beloved's gathering, my God, let somebody tell me what answer I should give to this. That is, you are acquainted with her mood and temperament. What ought I to say in this situation? In ko))ii batlaa))o a high degree of anxiety emerges.

Number 2: The beloved is deliberately acting ignorant.

Number 3: I had very great hopes from her, but from this question of hers I realize that to this day she doesn't recognize me.

Number 4: The period of separation prolonged itself so greatly, and the sorrow of separation so altered my face, that she doesn't even recognize me. (106)


In Delhi, even now they say ko))ii batlaa))o or batlaa do . In Lucknow, they say batlaa de . If anyone who is aware of something feigns ignorance, then they say tumhe;N kyaa bataa))e;N . (189-90)


SPEAKING: {14,4}

This verse with its utterly simple vocabulary is another astonishing portfolio of kyaa work, combined with both straightforward and idiomatic uses of verbs for asking and telling. The first line is an apparently straightforward in question-- though, as Nazm points out, it can be read in the tone of a deliberate sneer. (Why, he's a complete nobody!') Is it asked by the beloved, or by a passing stranger, or by a hostile person? Needless to say, we are left to decide for ourselves.

Then in the second line, the complexities develop into a dazzling number of permutations.The ko))ii batlaa))o can request that someone tell us (these words) with regard to our answer, as in (2a) and (2b). Or else it can request that someone tell the inquirer (these words), as in (2c) and (2d). Or else the kih can be reinterpreted so as to unify the whole line, as in (2e).

As for the final phrase, here are the basic possibilities, with their prose word order indicated:

ham kyaa batlaa))e;N ? -- what would we say/tell?
kyaa , ham batlaa))e;N ? -- would we tell? or would we not tell?
ham batlaa))e;N -- kyaa ! -- as if we would tell! we would hardly tell!

And of course as the commentators point out-- and as I have tried to suggest in (2d)-- various ones of these readings shade off into particular idioms and colloquial uses. The final reading, (2e), invokes the meaning of kih not as a quote-introducer but as 'because'; on this see {13,6}.

The result is a kind of album, a set of descriptions of social identity, with implications ranging from the insulting, through the neutral and coy, to the boastful. Better use has probably never have been made of the full range of possibilities not only of kyaa (which after all is used this way all the time), but also of batlaanaa . (Grammatically, batlaanaa is a variant form of bataanaa ; it has the advantage for this verse of scanning with an initial long syllable.)

For a similarly complex treatment of kahnaa , 'to say', see {209,1}. For a classic 'meaning generator' that uses some of the same devices even more elaborately, see {32,1}.

Note for grammar fans: In the second line, ko))ii in the third person is paired with batlaa))o , a second-person familiar imperative. The only reason I can think of for this is extra emphasis. Thus the ko))ii suggests that anybody at all can be appealed to for help in such a situation, while the batlaa))o marks an urgent shift to direct second-person familiar address (to a tum ), to increase the pressure on the 'somebody' who is suddenly being so addressed. For a similar case with ko))ii bataa))o , see {178,2}. And for a normal case (with ko))ii batlaa de ), see {207,1}.

And from Rafiq Kathwari, this just in (Sept. 2016)-- apparently the writer of the transliteration can't read the script: