Ghazal 71, Verse 2

{71,2}*

tuu aur aaraa))ish-e ;xam-e kaakul
mai;N aur andeshah'haa-e duur-daraaz

1) you-- and adornment of twists/knots of ringlets/curls
2) I-- and faraway-long thoughts/doubts/fears

Notes:

;xam : 'A bend, curve, crook; a curl, knot, ringlet; a coil, fold, ply; crookedness, curvature; bending, flexure; --the part of a noose which encircles the neck; a noose'. (Platts p.493)

 

kaakul : 'A curl, lock, ringlet; a tuft of hair left on the top of the head'. (Platts p.802)

 

andeshah : 'Thought, consideration, meditation, reflection; solicitude, anxiety, concern...; doubt, misgiving, suspicion; apprehension, dread, fear'. (Platts p.91)

 

duur-daraaz : 'Far, very distant; long'. (Platts p.532)

Nazm:

That is, having seen you adorning yourself, I feel doubt/concern: let's see which ones become lovers, or to which lovers this adornment would be shown. (71)

== Nazm page 71

Josh:

The word 'long' [daraaz] is a wordplay with 'curls' [kaakul]. (155)

Chishti:

This verse is an extremely fine example of iihaam and pithiness [ajmaal], and possessors of taste know that these things are the life of the ghazal. In addition, in this verse Ghalib has also created the verbal device of opposition [taqaabul]. (457-58)

Faruqi:

Outwardly, this verse is very simple, but it ought to be counted among Ghalib's most ambiguous [mubham-tariin] verses, because even after a thousand analyses, not all of its mysteries are elucidated....

First of all the affinity of 'curls' [kaakul] and 'faraway long' [duur daraaz].... The lover sees the beloved absorbed in adornment of her curly tresses, as if he has been granted such closeness, as to be a witness of the beloved's self-ornamentation. Before ordinary lovers the beloved only appears when completely adorned; thus between the beholder and the beheld there is not this ordinary relationship that exists between some commonplace lover and desired one. It's very possible that this relationship would already have assumed the form of union, and this verse is presenting the scene of the morning after the night of union.

It is also possible that the speaker is only imagining.... [Compare it with] {42,5}.

Another aspect is this: the beloved is not usually a believer in primping and adorning herself; rather, she trusts in her natural beauty. Suddenly the lover learns, or he sees, that the beloved is absorbed in adorning her tresses. Now there's special emphasis on the word 'you'. This is you who are absorbed in adorning your curly tresses! I feel 'long, far' fears: what is it today, that you're absorbed in this unusual pursuit?....

The situation is such that the lover is absorbed not in the beloved, but rather in his own thoughts. In this way, this verse becomes a symbol of 'in union, the decline of ardor' [part of line one of {116,9}]. Or if it's not the decline of ardor, then it's certainly some kind of mental entanglement....

If andeshah is taken to have the meaning of 'fear', another extensive world reveals itself:
1) The lover fears that the black curls will become white. Today's beauty reminds him of tomorrow's unattractiveness.
2) He also fears that the effects of that time when life will be completed, youth will wane and turn into old age.
3) He realizes that even such perfect beauty is not free from death; he fears that death will devour even her, and will not respect such beauty.
4) According to Hasrat Mohani, he thinks the beloved does not trust his faithfulness; thus she adorns herself because she wants to ensnare him in the deceit-net of her beauty.
5) He fears that if others see the beloved in such a state of adornment, they'll become her lovers; or rather, how would it be strange if they sacrifice their lives?
6) He fears that the beloved might have fallen in love with herself
7) He fears that so much adornment is being done for some new lover.
8) He fears that there's no trusting life; we're all absorbed in our own tasks, and have forgotten death-- although, how 'the earth has eaten up the sky' [zamii;N khaa ga))ii aasmaa;N kaise kaise]!
9) He fears that the beloved may have become immersed to such an extent in self-adornment, and will not be faithful; her interest is in herself, not in me. (1989: 83-85) [2006: 105-07]

FWP:

SETS == FILL-IN; I AND; PARALLELISM
CURLS: {14,6}

This is one of his 'I and' verses; and among them, part of a special subset in which it's 'I and-- you'. Other such 'you and I' verses, that juxtapose lover and beloved in piquant but ultimately ambiguous ways: {13,3}; {17,6}; {71,9}; {88,3}; {190,7}; {190,9}; {190,12x}; {208,5}.

Faruqi says that this verse should be considered one of Ghalib's most ambiguous, because its meanings can't be teased out and analyzed to any reasonably satisfactory point of closure. In one sense he's right, because the 'faraway long doubts/fears' that you could entertain while your beautiful beloved is adorning her hair could obviously be almost infinite in number and kind. And yet, the verse certainly doesn't feel unduly obscure or abstruse. On the contrary, in fact: it can be enjoyed greatly (even fully?) and suitably on a first reading (or even hearing). Compare it to the very next verse, {71,3}, which really IS difficult, and which Faruqi analyzes very effectively. Obviously, there are different kinds of 'ambiguity' possible in such verses.

The heart of the verse is the elegant, mysterious parallelism between the beloved's adorning (complexifying, elaborating, emphasizing) of her curls (long, dark, twisted, and far beyond the lover's access or control); and the lover's implied 'adorning' (complexifying, elaborating, emphasizing) of his doubts/fears (long, dark, twisted, and concerning matters far beyond his control). This parallelism is evident at once-- is it possible not to perceive it?

While the verse suggests that an inventory could possibly be made of (some of) the lover's long dark thoughts, it certainly doesn't require such an inventory in order to be understood and appreciated. And the inventory itself would surely, almost by definition, be incomplete and partly personal; beyond some obvious topics (jealousy etc.), my list of such long dark thoughts would be different from yours, and from Faruqi's. Yet this wouldn't cause me to conclude that the verse itself was 'ambiguous'. On the contrary: it's as simple as it can possibly be, and it's the very simplicity that lets your mind create its own complex, personal repertoire of 'long, dark' doubts and fears. This verse reminds me of {70,3}-- the 'event' is harsh, and life is dear. What event? Our very inability to pinpoint any single one is what lets us substitute our own idea of such an event. Which is surely more powerful and effective than any ready-made event or list of events could possibly be.

This is also a lovely verse for sound effects: the long vowels in andeshah'haa-e duur daraaz want to go on forever, don't they? Just like the curls, and the thoughts. For a similar take on the beloved's twisting curls and the lovers dark thoughts, see {176,5}. And for a very different verse about the beloved's curls and the lover's thoughts, see {111,8}.

In particular, see {4,4}, where other such 'list'-like verse structures are discussed. The present verse, an extreme case, doesn't even have a verb at all.

See also {78,1}, which I analyze largely in connection with the present verse. Another especially good verse for comparison is {13,3}.