Ghazal 64, Verse 4


ham aur vuh be-sabab ranj-aashnaa dushman kih rakhtaa hai
shu((aa-e mihr se tuhmat nigah kii chashm-e rauzan par

1) we, and that causeless(ly) grief-friendly enemy! --for she places
2) blame for a gaze by/from the sun-ray, on the eye of the crevice-work


be-sabab : 'adj. & adv. Without cause or reason, causeless; causelessly'. (Platts p.203)


ranj : 'Trouble; sorrow, grief, affliction; sadness; anguish of mind, distress; suffering, pain, hardship; pains, toil, inconvenience; offence, annoyance, vexation, molestation; anger; disgust'. (Platts p.600)


aashnaa : 'Acquaintance; friend; associate; intimate friend, familiar; lover, sweetheart; paramour; mistress, concubine;--adj. Acquainted (with, -se), knowing, known; attached (to), fond (of)'. (Platts p.57)


rauzan : 'An aperture in the middle of a house (for allowing the smoke to escape), a hole; a window'. (Platts p.605)


That is, seeing the ray that comes through the crevice, she becomes grieved without cause: 'It was your glance, you must have peeked!'. I've been forced to consort with such a suspicious person. (64-65)

== Nazm page 64; Nazm page 65


The second line provides a commentary on 'causelessly grieved'.... [She] takes a ray of sunlight to be the line of a glance, and accuses the eye of the crevice of casting the evil eye. (64)

Bekhud Dihlavi:

The meaning is that when she sees a ray of sunlight that comes through a chink in the wall, my beloved quarrels with me: 'You stared at me through the crevice in the wall! That was not a ray of sunlight, but your glance.' (112)

Bekhud Mohani:

besabab ranj = becoming angry without reason. aashnaa-dushman = enemy of lovers.

She's so suspicious, so causelessly-grieved [besabab ranj], that when rays of sunlight come through a crevice, then she says, 'The crevice is staring at me!'. That is, when she's so suspicious, so causelessly-grieved, then you can guess what we experience in loving her and what difficulties we're in. (145)


besabab ranj aashnaa dushman : The meaning of this construction is, an enemy who becomes angry without reason and holds grief dear. (148)


EYES {3,1}
GAZE: {10,12}

On the nature of the rauzan , 'crevice-work', see the discussion below.

In this verse the poet once again uses the 'I and X' structure; for more on the rhetorical implications of this, see {5,6}. The lover exclaims helplessly at his involvement with such a person: 'We, and that...!' [ham aur vuh]. His inability to find the right words is illustrated when he describes the beloved not only as grieved without a cause, but also as-- by juxtaposition at least-- as a 'friend(ly) enemy'. In case the word order is confusing, here's how it would go: shu((aa-e mihr se nigah kii tuhmat chashm-e rauzan par rakhtaa hai .

The beloved is so unreasonable that she blames the 'eye' of the crevice in the wall for the glance of the sun-ray. The commentators differ on exactly what this means: she blames the lover for spying on her (Nazm); she blames the crevice for casting the 'evil eye' (Hasrat); she blames the crevice for staring at her (Bekhud Dihlavi). But surely the basic idea is that she's utterly unreasonable: she's blaming an indisputably innocent, passive party (the rauzan ) for behavior by another probably innocent, passive party (the sun)-- behavior over which in any case the crevice-work has no control.

And yet-- the rauzan does seem to have an eye, for she blames the chashm-e rauzan . Does this turn the rauzan into a voyeur, like the mirror and the lover? Maybe her beauty is such that even normally passive, neutral entities take on human-like desires and longings? Does the sun-ray actually seek her out, and aim itself toward her?

That phrase be-sabab ranj aashnaa dushman is the one that really gives us something to chew on in the verse. Since be-sabab can be either an adjective or an adverb, she can be either a 'causelessly grief-friendly enemy' (there's no reason for her cultivation of grief), or a 'causeless-grief-friendly enemy' (she cultivates groundless, unreasonable grief). And someone like her, of course, can perfectly well be both at once.

In principle, aashnaa can be either an adjective or a noun, but its mediating grammatical position here (between two nouns that have to be connected) requires it to be an adjective. Thus the beloved is described as a 'friendly enemy', and the piquant effect is heightened by the noun reading: 'friend enemy' that makes itself strongly felt as well. (I thank Vasmi Abidi for his useful discussion of this point.)

The commentators generally take it as a given that she blames the lover for something specifically related to the situation described in the second line-- for staring, for spying, for intruding, for permitting others to stare or spy or intrude. But it's also quite possible that her treatment of the hapless crevice-work is simply an illustration of her jealous temperament in general, and of the similarly jealous way in which she treats her lovers.

ABOUT CREVICE-WORK ( rauzan ): The lover's example of the beloved's unreasonableness involves the rauzan , the 'crevice-work in the wall', Although 'crevice-work' is the only descriptive term I can think of in English, it's not very satisfactory, because a 'crevice' sounds tiny and accidental, a sign of sloppy construction or deliberate tampering. As used in the Urdu ghazal, a rauzan is an architectural feature common in brick-built structures in South Asia. It is a small ventilation grill made by spacing a group of bricks in a small patch of wall so that symmetrical gaps, usually one-third of a brick-length wide, are left between them. These holes are generally squarish, and are arranged in a symmetrical, even decorative, geometrical pattern, often a diamond. For privacy and better ventilation, they are usually placed high on the wall, so that only sky can be seen through them; they're definitely not meant to be small windows. Other verses that use the imagery of the rauzan : {33,8x}; {64,4}; {87,3}; {87,4}; {111,4}; {113,2}; {113,4}; {113,6}; {195,3x}; {227,3} // {240x,6}; {244x,7}; {266x,2}; {284x,3}

On the use of a wad of cotton ( punbah ) in a rauzan , see {87,4}.

Here's a perfectly good rauzan , in a barn wall in Nashville, Tennessee:

And there was at least one rauzan in the house that Premchand built for his family, as Madan Gopal has shown us: