Ghazal 48, Verse 3


dil hu))aa kashmakash-e chaarah-e za;hmat me;N tamaam
mi;T gayaa ghisne me;N is ((uqde kaa vaa ho jaanaa

1) the heart, in the struggle/'tug-of-war' of the remedy of trouble, became finished off
2) it was erased, in {rubbing, abrading / being rubbed, abraded}-- this knot's becoming open


kashmakash : 'Repeated pulling; pulling backwards and forwards, or to and fro; jostling, hustling; bringing and taking away; command after command; commanding and countercommanding; great unpleasantness, or grief, or pain; distraction, dilemma, perplexity, difficulty; struggle, contention'. (Platts p.835)


za;hmat : 'Disquietude, indisposition (of body or mind); pain, affliction, trouble, sickness'. (Platts p.615)

mi;Tnaa : 'To be effaced, or obliterated, or expunged, or erased'. (Platts p.999)

ghisnaa : 'To rub, to rub off or away, to abrade; be worn (by rubbing or friction); to be rubbed smoth (as a coin &c.); --to waste away, to wear, to fret'. (Platts p.934)


vaa honaa : 'To be or become open; to open; to be freed or liberated; to be relieved of sorrow, to become cheerful'. (Platts p.1171)


From the schemes for repairing the trouble of the heart, such a struggle ensued that the heart itself was finished off, as though it was a knot and had been worn away. (43)

== Nazm page 43


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {48}


The convention is that if many attempts are made, usually the knot becomes even tighter, and to open it becomes impossible. (47)

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, in order to repair the trouble of the heart, the schemes created so much struggle that the heart was finished off. In the second line he presents an example of this. That is, the way by constant rubbing neither does a knot remain, nor is the cord left, so my heart was finished off by its cure. (85-86)



In the first line we learn that the heart was 'finished off'. Then as we hear the second line, we think we know how. For mi;Tnaa , 'to be erased, obliterated', is just the kind of thing that can happen to a tangled knot when repeated efforts to untie it have 'abraded' its strands. With all the 'rubbing', the 'pulling and tugging', it may eventually become a hopeless bundle of filaments, and lose even the coherence of being a knot. By that point, continued rubbing, pulling, and tugging can only wear it away, eventually even (theoretically) into nothingness. That's a perfectly plausible thing to have happened to the knot of the finished-off heart. It has a fine and enjoyable 'objective correlative', a solid physical basis for the metaphor.

But then Ghalib goes on to disrupt this well-anchored metaphor. At the very end of the second line, we learn that what became 'erased' was not the heart, but the 'becoming open' of the heart. Since 'becoming open' is an abstract, entirely non-physical concept, all the solid physical groundwork of erasure, abrasion or rubbing, pulling and tugging, no longer anchors to it or helps us to evoke it. Ghalib has let us get almost all the way to the metaphor, and then at the last possible moment (since vaa is the rhyme) he has snatched it out of our grasp. He thus forces us to do more work, with far fewer wordplay-tools. And yet we go on reading the man... so how can we complain?

The lover doesn't lament the wearing-away and loss of the heart-knot itself; he laments only the loss of all possibility of the knot's ever being opened. Or perhaps he's not lamenting at all, but merely reporting. Or perhaps his tone is ruefully amused. As usual, we're left to decide for ourselves. In any case, it's clear that the heart's condition was desperate; and in the end it died of a 'kill or cure' treatment. For another 'kill or cure' verse, see {9,7}.

For other 'knot' verses, see {8,2}.