Ghazal 57, Verse 4

{57,4}*

;xuu;N hai dil ;xaak me;N a;hvaal-e butaa;N par ya((nii
un ke naa;xun hu))e mu;htaaj-e ;hinaa mere ba((d

1) the heart is blood, in the dust, at the condition of the idols-- that is,
2) their nails became in need of henna, after me

Notes:

a;hvaal : (pl. of ;haal , but used as a sing.), State, condition; case; circumstances; state of affairs; affairs; events, occurrences; account'. (Platts p.29)

 

mu;htaaj : 'Necessitous, needy, indigent, poor, in want, in need (of); --defective, wanting; --s.m. One who is in need, a poor man, a pauper; a beggar'. (Platts p.1007)

Nazm:

That is, in mourning for me they left off using henna [meh;Ndii]. 'Dust' refers to the dust of the grave. (52)

== Nazm page 52

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, in the dust of the grave our heart has turned to blood with grief that after our death the beloved's fingernails have been in need of henna. The meaning is that usually the beautiful ones used to apply our blood as henna [mih;Ndii], so that in their henna there would be a brilliant color like that of our blood. After our death, they were compelled to apply [merely ordinary] henna [mih;Ndii]. (98)

Bekhud Mohani:

My heart, in the grave, turns to blood at the state of the beloveds. After my death, they gave up applying henna. That is, although it was in mourning for me alone that they gave up applying henna, when I see their hands without henna my liver bursts [in sympathy]. (124)

FWP:

SETS == GROTESQUERIE
IDOL: {8,1}

Compared to Bekhud Dihlavi's more directly physical connection, how anemic is Nazm's notion that the beautiful ones merely stopped using henna in grief after the speaker's death! It's possible that they did this, of course, but it's far from the end of the story.

Bekhud Dihlavi not only makes the necessary equation between the colors (henna is red like blood) but also links the two substances themselves-- the beloved used to mix my blood into her henna for extra brightness and luster (and kinky satisfaction?); now that the speaker is gone she's deprived of the chance to do this.

The argument can even be pushed a step further, for Ghalib expressly says that it's the beautiful ones' nails that lack henna after the speaker is gone. For more on henna, see {18,4}. Henna is normally applied to the palm of the hand and the fingers, so why emphasize the nails? Obviously because the beloved enjoyed actually handling his bloody heart, and even scratching or gouging it with her nails, so that her nails in particular were adorned with his blood, in lieu of henna. This kind of thing is characteristic of the beloved, after all; to take just a couple of examples, she enjoys holding a hundred hearts in her hand, as in {8,1}; and she enjoys watching the writhing of her wounded, stricken prey, as in {8,3}.

Does this extravagance, the beloved's habitually gouging and scratching my heart with her bloody fingernails, bring the verse into the category I call 'grotesquerie'? (For more on this concept, see {39,3}.) Maybe it should be put there provisionally, since the whole concept is so subjective anyway, and marginal possibilities are also of interest.

Moreover, when the speaker/lover realizes her deprived condition, even in the dust his heart turns to blood for her. This is a lovely 'concretization' of a conventional phrase. Usually one's 'heart turns to blood' with grief, which is quite appropriate here for the lover's intense sympathy and sorrow on the beloved's behalf. But even more aptly, since it's the lover's blood that the beloved lacks, even when the lover is dust his heart will somehow, seeking to fulfill her every need, manage to turn to the blood that she requires.

The pluralization of 'idols' goes with the general emphasis of this ghazal on the lover's death as a cosmic event affecting not only all beautiful women, but even passion itself. On dead-lover-speaks verses, see {57,1}.

Note for grammar fans: a;hvaal is of course the plural of ;haal , but it's treated as singular so consistently that Platts makes a special note of the fact (see the definition above). Other verses in which a;hvaal is clearly treated as singular: {92,8x}, {134,2}. For a converse case, consider ma((nii , which is singular but is always treated as plural; see {175,6} for an example.