Ghazal 53, Verse 8

{53,8}

jab kih mai;N kartaa huu;N apnaa shikvah-e .zu((f-e dimaa;G
sar kare hai vuh ;hadii;s-e zulf-e ((anbar-baar-e dost

1) when/while/since I make my complaint of weakness of the mind/nose
2) he 'heads into' a story of the fragrance-scattering curls of the friend/beloved

Notes:

jab kih : 'adv. & conj. At the time when, when; while; since (temp. & caus.)'. (Platts p.375)

 

sar karnaa : 'To make head[way]; to bring to an end, accomplish, achieve, perform, complete; to discharge, fire (a gun)'. (Platts p.648)

 

((anbar-baar : 'Ambergris, a rich perfume:... — ((anbar-baar , adj. Shedding fragrance, fragrant'. (Platts p.766)

 

kare hai is an archaic form of kartaa hai (GRAMMAR)

Nazm:

sar karnaa with a meaning of 'to begin' is a translation from Persian. (49)

== Nazm page 49

Bekhud Dihlavi:

By saying this he means that the perfume of the beloved's curls is a cure for weakness of the mind, so why do you complain to me of weakness of the mind? (93)

Mihr:

Perfume is considered to be a cure for weakness of the mind. (191)

FWP:

SETS == JAB KIH

ABOUT jab kih : The multivalence of jab kih also comes in handy here, since all three of its relevant meanings work very well with the second line. It could be marking an occasion ('at the time when I do' X, he always responds with Y); or emphasizing duration ('while I'm in the process of doing' X, he interrupts by launching into Y); or expressing causality ('since/because I do' X, as a result he does Y). For other examples of such flexibility, see {162,4} and {209,11}. Also very flexible is jo ; on this see {12,2}.


This is the third verse in a five-verse verse-set that begins with {53,6} and is discussed more fully there.

It's a verse that finds its chief charm in wordplay. Above all, it plays with the secondary meaning of the common dimaa;G , which means not only 'mind', but also 'nose'. (For more on this, see {11,2}.) When the lover complains about the weakness of his mind, he-- whom we know from {53,6} to be his rival, the Other-- 'heads into' a story about the beloved's ambergris-scattering curls. This final image works perfectly, since it unites the ideas of head (curls) and nose (perfume). Perfume as a cure for weakness of the mind is a notion also mentioned by the commentators. (It's true that 'heads into' isn't a perfect equivalent of sar kartaa hai -- see the definition above-- but it's pretty tolerable, and I couldn't resist capturing the wordplay.)

It's apparently another installment in the Other's campaign to harass and distress the lover, while pretending to offer company and cheer him up. The Other might, of course, be faking it: he might be as thoroughly deprived of the beloved's company as is the lover. But if so, he hasn't lost his hostility. Or could he possibly mean it kindly after all, as a form of distraction or even a curative process (as Bekhud Dihlavi and Mihr believe)? Unlike {53,7}, this verse contains no allegation of motive.