Ghazal 65, Verse 1

{65,1}

sitam-kash ma.sla;hat se huu;N kih ;xuubaa;N tujh pah ((aashiq hai;N
takalluf bar-:taraf mil jaa))egaa tujh-saa raqiib aa;xir

1) I am oppression-accepting from advice/prudence, for beautiful ones are your lovers
2) {leaving aside formality / 'to tell the truth'}, a Rival like you will become available [to me] finally

Notes:

ma.sla;hat : 'A cause, means, or occasion, of good; a thing or affair conducive to good, or that is for good; a thing that is good and right; welfare; that which is best, a prudent measure, advisable thing; advisability, sound or good policy; an urgent occasion; --convenience, expedience; an expedient; fitness; --advice, counsel; --an affair, business; subject'. (Platts p.1042)

 

takalluf : 'Taking (anything) upon oneself gratuitously or without being required to do it, gratuitousness; taking much pains personally (in any matter); pains, attention, industry, perseverance; trouble, inconvenience; elaborate preparation (for); profusion, extravagance; careful observance of etiquette, ceremony, formality; dissimulation, insincerity'. (Platts pp.331-32)

 

takalluf bar-:taraf : 'Ceremony apart, waiving ceremony'. (Platts p.332)

Nazm:

That is, among the beautiful ones who are in love with you, one or another of them will fall to my lot. With this counsel I submit to your coquetry-- that if I don't get you, then I will get some rival as beautiful as you. (65)

== Nazm page 65

Hasrat:

You are the beloved of the beloveds of the world-- among your lovers some such rival will turn up, who will be as beautiful as you. I will give my heart to that one. (64)

Bekhud Mohani:

Today, you don't care about me. When I get one of the beloveds who is in love with you, then you will be doubly jealous-- first, that I've stopped loving you, and second, that I've turned a lover into a beloved. That is, you'll feel even more jealous than you're making me feel today. (146)

Shadan:

Those who have a proper [poetic] temperament know that in Urdu such Persian plurals as ;xuubaa;N don't sound good even to the ear, when they are used like this without a connective or an i.zaafat . (226)

Mihr:

The true and plain fact is that sometime or other one of these [beautiful ones], having endured your tyranny and oppression, will become my confidant and sympathizer, and I will keep comforting my heart with the knowledge that you don't hesitate to make even the loveliest ones objects for the practice of cruelty and injustice. So why should passion become anxious?

To say that Ghalib would give his heart to one of these beautiful lovers and thus find satisfaction, is to make a complete mockery of Ghalib's poetic art [shi((r-go))ii]. (234)

FWP:

SETS == HUMOR; IDIOMS

The verse is a sly little sweet-and-sour morsel offered to the beloved. The lover seeks both to compliment her beauty (since all the other lovely ones of the world are said to be in love with her) and to arouse her jealousy (since the lover will thus be surrounded by a crowd of gorgeous people, all jostling and competing for the beloved's attentions). The implied advantage to the lover will be either that he will manage to capture one of them for himself (as most commentators think) or that he will simply have access to them as confidants and companions (as Mihr maintains, in an attempt to defend what he thinks of as Ghalib's honor as a lover).

The wit of the verse is heightened by leaving the possibilities open. For there's another doubleness too: what exactly does 'like you' [tujh-saa] mean? As beautiful as you, so that I will no longer need you any more, and can then forget you? Or like you in temperament and style as well, so that if you're not available I can at least seek the best facsimile, since I can't ever forget you?

The most amusing feature of the verse, however, is its 'reviving' of the petrified expression 'leaving aside formality' [takalluf bar-:taraf]. It's a commonplace introductory phrase, used the way 'to tell the truth' or 'if you want to know the truth' is used in English. So at first, we read it as just a standard 'claim of candor' phrase for introducing the real point of the utterance. But as we take in the full import of the second line, we recognize its much wittier and more appropriate sense as well.

For if it is read adverbially with mil jaa))egaa , the meaning is that finally I will meet a lover like you under conditions of informality, leaving aside all official decorum [takalluf bar-:taraf]. In the jostling, intimate, crushed-together crowd of your lovers, I will be in especially conducive proximity to many beautiful ones, and will eventually find intimacy with someone like you. And that will show you, cruel beloved! says the lover, perhaps with a wicked little sneer.

About takalluf bar-:taraf : For other, equally complex uses of takalluf bar-:taraf , both as a stylized introductory 'claim of candor' phrase, and as adverbial ('casually, informally'), see {132,2}, {205,6}, and {226,2}. In every case, this expression is placed at the beginning of a line, so that its general, introductory reading is the first one that will come to mind. Then afterwards (after the whole verse has been heard), its meaning can be enjoyably modified or enhanced to suit the specific possibilities of the verse. The expression works almost exactly the way be-takalluf does: for discussion, see {25,1}.

For another verse that plays with the idea of taking a new lover, see {131,2}.

This verse also plays enjoyably with the polymorphous perversity of gender identity in the ghazal. We know that the lover is an adult male. We know that the beloved may be a woman, or a beautiful boy (for examples of this latter case see {9,2}). In this verse, no matter how we slice and dice the relationships, same-sex cases. Here are the two main possibilities:

=the beloved is a woman, her lovers are women; the (male) speaker hopes to get one of them
=the beloved is an adolescent boy, his lovers are adolescent boys; the (male) speaker hopes to get one of them
=the beloved is a woman, her lovers are adolescent boys; the (male) speaker hopes to get one of them
=the beloved is an adolescent boy, his lovers are women; the (male) speaker hopes to get one of them

In short, anybody hoping to confine Ghalib's poetic world to heterosexuality is completely out of luck, as this verse demonstrates very clearly. In the great majority of verses, it's impossible to tell the gender of the beloved, and basically it doesn't matter; the beloved may also in most cases-- though not always, according to me (see {20,3} for examples)-- be God.

The main reasons that I've adopted a feminine persona for the beloved in this commentary are (1) because it makes it much easier to show clearly who's who, if one is male and the other is female; and (2) because in English poetry the female beloved is 'least marked' to such a degree that to show a male beloved as normative would make the poetry look distinctively gay-oriented in a way that it's not.