Ghazal 57, Verse 10x


thii nigah merii nihaa;N ;xaanah-e dil kii naqqaab
be-;xa:tar jiite hai;N arbaab-e riyaa mere ba((d

1) my gaze was a digger/crowbar in the hidden chamber of the heart
2) they live without danger, the lords of hypocrisy/pretense, after me


naqb : 'Digging through a wall, house-breaking ... —a subterraneous excavation; a mine (under a wall); —a (rabbit's) burrow; —a mine, a gallery; —a crow-bar or other implement used by miners, house-breakers, &c.'. (Platts p.1145)


arbaab : 'Possessors, lords, masters'. (Platts p.38)


riyaa : 'Acting ostentatiously; affectation, show, pretence, hypocrisy, dissimulation, subterfuge, evasion'. (Platts p.610)


My gaze was excellently perceptive, in the hidden chamber of the heart; it was understanding everything, and learning everything, and it knew all the inner secrets of the breast. So to speak, my gaze was a digger/thief. Now that I am not [alive], for the people of hypocrisy no fear or danger has remained, and they are passing their lives happily.

This very same theme, he has composed like this in Persian: nigaham naqb hamii zad bah nihaan ;xaanah-e dil // muzhdah baad ahl-e riyaa raa kih z miidaan raftam .

== Asi, p. 109


That is, while I was alive, I always used to guess the hypocrisy of the hypocrites. Now they no longer have any fear.

== Zamin, p. 158

Gyan Chand:

naqqaab : Doing naqb .

The 'people of hypocrisy' say something; in their hearts is something else. My gaze was able to enter into the lower chambers [tah-;xaanah] of their hearts; that is, I used to know the secrets of their hearts. After me, they have become free from danger.

== Gyan Chand, p. 194


GAZE: {10,12}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; largely for the sake of completeness, I have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

The speaker had a 'penetrating' gaze in a very literal sense: his gaze was a digger, a miner, even a thief; or else it was a crowbar or some other kind of digging tool. Thus he could see through all the surface layers and into the depths of hearts, and detect hypocrisy and dissimulation. This was apparently a unique feat that only he could perform, for now that he is gone, the 'lords of hypocrisy' are no longer in any danger of exposure.

The image of the speaker's gaze as a 'digger' or a 'crowbar' sounds unexpectedly practical and energetic. (In English we have a 'searching' gaze, and the idea of 'prying out' secrets.) The word naqqaab in itself deserves some 'fresh word' credit; it appears nowhere else in the divan. Only its root, naqb , appears in Platts and Steingass (see the definition above).

Who are the 'lords of hypocrisy'? The word arbaab can mean 'possessors', but it's not really neutral; it's the plural of rabb , 'lord', a title often used for God. It conveys mastery, the way 'lord of the land' is more potent than 'landowner'. It suggests that the 'lords of hypocrisy' are not garden-variety hypocrites, but people who make masterful, exploitative use of hypocrisy, dissimulation, subterfuge (see the definition above).

This verse reminds me of {96,6}, in which the speaker assumes the 'guise' of a Faqir (thus perhaps himself engaging in a kind of riyaa ), and observes the 'spectacle' of the 'people of generosity'. The verse strongly suggests that the 'people of generosity' are worth seeing not for their virtue, but for less creditable reasons.

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