Ghazal 57, Verse 6


hai junuu;N ahl-e junuu;N ke liye aa;Gosh-e vidaa((
chaak hotaa hai garebaa;N se judaa mere ba((d

1) madness is, for the people of madness, the embrace of 'leave-taking'
2) 'tearing' is [habitually] separated from the collar, after me


vidaa(( : 'Adieu, farewell; parting; bidding farewell'. (Platts p.1183)


'Tearing' takes leave of the collar of the people of madness, as if Tearing is the 'embrace of leave-taking', for after me it will have departed from the people of madness. The place for hai was after vidaa(( , but because of the necessities of the verse he moved it [to the beginning of the line]. (52)

== Nazm page 52

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'tearing' has become separated from the collars of those madmen who constantly keep their collars torn open. That is, after my death 'tearing' won't come, even by accident, near any collar. The meaning is that after me, the age will be devoid of accomplished ones; no such lover as I will be born again. (98)

Bekhud Mohani:

After us, madness is becoming separated from the people of madness, and 'tearing' is becoming separated from the collar. That is, it was we alone who, in the turmoil of madness, seized our garment and turned the 'tearing of the collar' and 'the tearing of the garment-hem' [chaak-e daaman] into the same act. Now nobody will be able to do this feat. (125)


MADNESS: {14,3}

ABOUT aa;Gosh-e vidaa(( : Ghalib is fond of this paradoxical gesture, the 'embrace of leave-taking'. The embracer is said to 'open' an embrace: After the opening of his or her arms, the embracer seeks to enfold and tightly 'enclose' the embraced one. But even after the most desperately tight, prolonged, enclosed embrace, there's always the terrible moment of re-opening or 'loosening' the embrace to release the embraced one. Sometimes a verse actually uses aa;Gosh-kushaa , 'embrace-opening', thus also making specifically available the sense of kushaa as 'loosening' (Platts p.835). Then the small first gesture of the opening of the embracer's arms to release the embraced one from close contact is carried forward through the embraced one's departure on a long, far, uncertain journey. The sequence of opening, enclosing, opening, releasing, losing is one that Ghalib envisions as happening throughout the cosmos: for examples see {1,6x}; {2,3x}; {74,1}, {185,1}, {187,2}, {213,2}, {230,4}.

For madmen, madness 'is' the embrace of farewell or parting or leave-taking. And of course the 'embrace of leave-taking' can be, thanks to the clever i.zaafat , either an embrace that signifies leave-taking, or an embrace of a quasi-personified entity called Leave-taking. (This latter reading is made more plausible by the similar treatment of chaak in the second line.) And what exactly does it mean to embrace Leave-taking? An embrace is a sign of intimate presence, but this embrace is also a sign of the end of all intimate presence, since it announces the separation of the two who are embracing. And when one of the two who share an 'embrace of leave-taking' is named 'Leave-taking', how are to read that? By giving a farewell embrace to Leave-taking, is the lover showing that there will be no more leave-taking from now on? Or is he just showing that he's crazy? For another creative use of the phrase aa;Gosh-e vidaa(( , see {74,1}.

The tearing of the collar, chaak-e garebaa;N , is one of the mad lover's characteristic activities. Of course it's not exactly a 'collar' that he tears, but the vertical slit at the throat of his kurta that opens so the garment can be pulled on over the head; for more on this, see {17,9}. Why does he tear it? Because he's mad, and madmen do insane things; or because he feels suffocated by passion and loosens his collar to get more air; or because he's grief-stricken and rending one's garments is a classic sign of grief; or because he seeks to become a naked hermit in the desert. How elegantly this simple, stylized physical action is made to radiate complexity in all directions!

And then, is 'tearing' [chaak] a mere noun, or a personified entity called Tearing? If 'tearing' is separated from the collar, this might mean simply that the collar will never be torn again. But if the personified Tearing is separated from the collar, it might mean that Tearing is intolerably kept apart from access to its single defining activity, its reason for existing-- almost the way the lover is separated from the beloved. Does Tearing suffer the way the lover himself does? As Vasmi Abidi points out, the line itself, in its word order, also enacts the separation of chaak from garebaa;N .

Moreover, we can't tell what relationship exists between the two 'A,B' lines. Do they describe the same situation? Two similar situations? Two contrasted situations? Is one a primary statement or a cause, and the other a corollary or an effect? Because both are so abstract and multivalent, there are a dozen different ways to put them together.

The repetition of junuu;N , the insistence on lovers as 'people of madness' opens further possibilities. The multivalent craziness of this verse might, after all, simply express the madness of the mad lover, who sees the world as refracting his own passion-skewed sensibility. Perhaps the quest for intelligibility and coherence is a futile one. At the heart of this inexhaustible meaning-generator is the deep and intolerable (but also so colloquial and unforced) paradox of an 'embrace of parting'.

For more on dead-lover-speaks verses, see {57,1}.