Ghazal 48, Verse 2


tujh se qismat me;N mirii .suurat-e qufl-e abjad
thaa likhaa baat ke bante hii judaa ho jaanaa

1) with/from you, in my destiny/'division', like/'with the aspect of' a combination lock
2) was written-- at only/emphatically the moment of succeeding/'clicking', to become separated


qismat : 'Division, distribution, partition (of a thing); a division (of a province, &c.); a section, head, category; (in Arith.) simple division; a portion, share, lot; fortune, fate, destiny; divine decree'. (Platts p.791)


abjad : '1. The first of a series of eight words comprising the letters of the Arabic alphabet in the order in which they were originally disposed (agreeing with that of the Hebrew and Aramaic). 2. The arrangement of the Arabic alphabet according to the occurrence of the letters in the said eight words. 3. The numerical value of the letters in this arrangement of them. 4. The alphabet'. (Platts p.3)


baat ban'naa : 'To be snccessful, prove a success, answer well; to gain credit or honour, to prosper, flourish'. (Platts p.117)


'From you' is related to 'to become separated', and 'in my destiny' is related to 'was written', and 'becoming separated' refers to the opening of a lock. When the letters are arranged to form that word which the maker has prescribed, then the combination lock opens. And they say baat kaa ban'naa for 'for a plan to come to fruition'. (43)

== Nazm page 43


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {48}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

Mirza Sahib says that the storehouse of his destiny was only this much: that when a connection of the heart would be made with you, then separation would occur. (85)

Bekhud Mohani:

This simile is peerless. And this verse is a collection of hopelessnesses. If a person expects to fail in some task, and does fail, he doesn't feel as much vain longing, as much regret, as much suffering, as [he does] if the task is done and he is ruined by it. (108



This is another excellent mushairah verse: see {14,9} for further discussion of this concept. The lover and the beloved are like a combination lock: after some effort and care, they 'click'-- and then instantly they are drawn apart. The qufl-e abjad offers the pleasure of the proverbial 'fresh word', but it doesn't stop there, since its action too is so enjoyably suitable to the lover's plight.

Within the verse, the maximum possible distance has been placed between tujh se , 'from you', and judaa ho jaanaa , 'to become separated'. Moreover, qismat has the appropriate root meaning of 'division, partition', as well as its usual meaning of 'share, lot; fortune, fate' (see the definition above).

Urdu has the idiomatic X se baat ban'naa , 'to achieve a rapport with X'. Luckily, modern American English has (or not too long ago had) 'for X and Y to click', a similar idiom that could hardly be improved on. The English idiom even has the fortuitious ability to evoke the sound of an opening combination lock. How Ghalib would have enjoyed that!

One other combination-lock verse: {203,2}; a more general padlock verse: {104,3x}.

Note for chronogram fans: If you're curious about the abjad system, here's more information.

Note for grammar fans: It seems best to take thaa likhaa as short for likhaa hu))aa thaa , 'was [in a state of having been] written'. Otherwise, we'd be obliged to assume an omitted subject: kisii ne likhaa thaa , 'X had written'; this seems awkward, because there's no suitable subject indicated in the verse, and the reversed word order of the verb would feel clumsy.

Ghalib's combination lock always makes me think of Donne's 'A Valediction Forbidding Mourning', with its image of the drawing-compass; though far more hopefully worked out, Donne's is just as deliberately clunky and quotidian. Donne says of his and his beloved's souls that hers is like the fixed foot at the center of the circle:

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.