Ghazal 58, Verse 6


hujuum-e giryah kaa saamaan kab kiyaa mai;N ne
kih gir pa;Re nah mire paa;Nv par dar-o-diivaar

1a) when did I ever collect the equipment for an attack/onslaught of tears,
2a) that the doors and walls didn't fall at my feet? [they did so every time!]

1b) when did I ever collect the equipment for an attack/onslaught of tears! [I never did!]--
2b) for didn't the doors and walls fall at my feet? [and prevent me?]
2c) [thinking] that 'May they not fall at my feet, doors and walls!'


hujuum : 'Assault, attack; effort; impetuosity; --crowd, throng, concourse, mob; a swarm'. (Platts p.1221)


kih : 'That, in order that, to the end that, so that, for that, in that, because, for; if; and; or; whether; namely, to wit, saying, thus, as follows'. (Platts p.866)


In the framework of a negative rhetorical question [istifhaam-e inkaarii] he says, 'When did I do that?-- that never happened!' That is, [it never happened] that I collected equipment for weeping, and doors and walls didn't fall at my feet. (54)

== Nazm page 54

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, whenever I have wanted to weep my heart out, then at once the doors and walls have fallen at my feet. The meaning of the verse is that there is so much effect in my weeping that before my intention is completely accomplished, its effect becomes apparent. (100-01)

Bekhud Mohani:

The meaning is that if I had not seen doors and walls falling at my feet (that is, collapsing), then I would have wept my heart out, and the house which appears to be in this ruined state (that is, with the walls collapsed and the door fallen in) would already have been torn apart long ago and not even a trace of it would have remained.... In another place he has said, {27,7}. (128)


HOME: {14,9}

This verse, with its radically inshaa))iyah structure, permits two negative-question readings. In the first reading, the framework is 'When did I ever do X, that Y didn't happen!'-- that is, that every time I did X, then Y happened. In the second reading, the framework is, 'When did I ever do X? Didn't Y always happen, to prevent me?' So either I did X many times (always with Y as one result), or I never did X at all (since I was deterred by Y). The key to these two readings is the versatility of the omnicompetent little clause-introducing conjunction kih .

The X is, of course, collecting the 'equipment' for an 'attack, onslaught' of tears; in other words, preparing to create a devastating personal flood, as in {58,2}. The Y is, my doors and walls' falling at my feet. Just as in English, falling at someone's feet [kisii ke paa;Nv par pa;Rnaa] suggests, most probably, deliberate collapse as a gesture of humility and supplication; or, alternatively, simple collapse (reason unspecified; the collapse just happened to take place near the feet).

In this case, the first sense would provide the image of the doors and walls begging the lover not to weep such a flood that they would be destroyed; the second sense would suggest that the lover's mere preparations for a flood of tears were so potent that the doors and walls were knocked down even before the actual flood hit them. (As in {5,4}, where even a passing 'thought' of wildness or madness burns the desert to ashes.)

Nobody will be surprised to realize, knowing Ghalib, that both senses of 'falling at my feet' work for both readings of the verse, given above in the translation. We are left nicely and undecidably balanced among several sets of possibilities. One set: If my tears destroyed my doors and walls, they did so either physically (my preparations led directly to actual tears) or by suggestion (the mere preparations caused my house to collapse). And this destruction happened either repeatedly, as in reading (a), or never, as in reading (b). Another set: If my tears didn't destroy my doors and walls, it was because I heeded the humble supplication of the fearful doors and walls themselves; and this supplication happened either repeatedly, as in reading (a), or never, as in reading (b). Moreover, if kih introduces a quotation as it so often does, then we have (2c).