Ghazal 51, Verse 7x


nah auro;N kii suntaa nah kahtaa huu;N apnii
sar-e ;xastah-o-shor-e va;hshat salaamat

1) I neither {hear / listen to} others' [speech], nor do I say my own [speech]

2a) worn-down head and tumult of wildness/madness, wellbeing [to you]!
2b) may the worn-down head and the tumult of wildness/madness be safe/well!


baat : 'Speech, language, word, saying, conversation, talk, gossip, report, discourse, news, tale, story, account; thing, affair, matter, business, concern, fact, case, circumstance, occurrence, object, particular, article, proposal, aim, cause, question, subject'. (Platts p.117)


;xastah : 'Wounded, hurt; broken; infirm; sick, sorrowful'. (Platts p.490)


shor : 'Cry, noise, outcry, exclamation, din, clamour, uproar, tumult, disturbance; renown'. (Platts p.736)


va;hshat : 'A desert, solitude, dreary place; --loneliness, solitariness, dreariness; --sadness, grief, care; --wildness, fierceness, ferocity, savageness; barbarity, barbarism; --timidity, fear, fright, dread, terror, horror; --distraction, madness'. (Platts p.1183)


I neither speak myself, nor listen to the speech of others. May the Lord grant that my head, which wildness has made worn-down, would remain safe/well. (100)


[Zamin's text has dushvaar-e va;hshat .] This verse should have been removed. (145)

Gyan Chand:

There is the tumult of my madness. Because of this very madness, my head has become worn down. May both these things-- that is, the wounded head and the tumult of madness-- remain safe/well. Besides them, I neither pay attention to anyone's words, nor tell anyone anything about myself.

== Gyan Chand, p. 175


MADNESS: {14,3}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

In Urdu, sun'naa can mean both 'to listen to' and 'to hear'. So we can't tell whether the speaker is deaf, or is alone and out of earshot of others, or is simply refusing to listen to them. Nor can we tell why he doesn't speak-- is he mute? Is he alone? Is he deliberately refusing to communicate?

And if we hope that the second line will narrow down the options, we're out of luck. For the 'wounded, worn-down' head may be one either unable to hear or speak (through some physical wound), or simply disinclined to do so (through weariness or disaffection). And the 'tumult of wildness/madness' may be an actual physical noise (such that one couldn't hear or speak over it), or the disturbing experience of a 'desert, solitude' (such that one would be entirely without human companionship), or the turbulence of 'distraction, madness' (such that one would be too insane to communicate with others).

For more on the double reading of salaamat proposed in the second line, see the discussion in {51,4}. But what does it mean to salute, or to wish well to, this 'wounded, worn-down head' and this 'tumult of wildness/madness'? Would it be well for it to be even madder, or to continue as it is, or to become a bit less mad?

The verse is of the classic 'A,B' kind, and so requires (or permits) us to decide for ourselves. Here are some possible ways to connect the two lines:

=Since I have no human contact, my own madness is all I have in the world, and I value it.

=I don't maintain any human contact, and I'm quite mad, and that's how I like things to be.

=Thanks to my madness, I'm fortunately not obliged to maintain any human contact.

=A total lack of human contact is one of the symptoms and/or causes of my madness.

=Alas, I can't maintain any human contact-- I hope my poor head and my mad condition will improve, and won't get any worse!

And of course, these various readings also permit a wide variation in the tone or mood of the verse-- which we also have to decide for ourselves, afresh, every time we recite it.

On the colloquially omitted baat in baat sun'naa , see {59,2}.