Ghazal 78, Verse 5

{78,5}*

partav-e ;xvur se hai shabnam ko fanaa kii ta((liim
mai;N bhii huu;N ek ((inaayat kii na:zar hote tak

1) from the ray of sun is, to the dew, an education in oblivion/destruction
2) even/also I exist/am until the existence/occurrence of a single/particular/unique glance of favor

Notes:

fanaa : 'Mortality, frailty, corruption, decay, perdition, destruction, death'. (Platts p.784)

 

((inaayat : 'Favour, bounty; gift, present; countenance, aid, support'. (Platts p.766)

Nazm:

That is, my existence is like that of dew, and your glance is a ray of sunlight. With one single glance from you, I can no longer have any stability or foundation, the way dew is obliterated by a ray of sunlight. (80)

== Nazm page 80

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, the way the dew evaporates and flies up from the heat of the sun, in the same way I too will be obliterated by a glance of favor from you. The meaning is that my existence has no more substance than that of the dew, nor can I have any more stability or foundation than it does. (127)

Bekhud Mohani:

[He might be speaking to the True Beloved.]

[Or:] It's possible that he might have said 'glance of favor' out of sarcasm-- that is, the day your eye falls on me, I'll be finished off.

[Or:] When you become kind to me, my life is over, [as in] {126,8}. (165)

Shadan:

This word ta((liim doesn't seem like a very good one. [Here's an improved version of the first line:] partav-e mihr to hai vaj'h-e fanaa-e shabnam [the ray of sun is the cause of the oblivion of the dew]. (244)

FWP:

SETS == BHI; EK
SUN: {10,5}

Unusually for Ghalib, in this verse we actually have some genuine interpretive help in connecting the two lines of this 'A,B' verse. The little bhii , 'even' or 'also, too', confirms for us that the comparison is between the lover and the drop of dew, and that they share at least one important trait. The relevant trait is obviously that of being instantly evaporated, receiving an 'education in oblivion'-- from the first ray of the sun or the first 'warm' glance of the beloved. But of course, the double possibilities of bhii as 'even' (that I am an extreme or unique or extraordinary case), or as 'also, too' (that I am only one more in a series of similar experiencers), already generate two readings of the comparison between the lover and the dew.

The Sufi term fanaa suggests that the lover might feel about that glance the rapturous delight that a mystic would feel about absorption in the Divine. There might also be a bit of trembling involved, as we saw when the lover literally depicted himself as a drop of dew in the desert in {61,1}.

If we take the beloved's 'kindly' glance as benevolently intended, there's a suggestive parallel to the situation in {9,7}, in which the lover is so weak that Jesus's attempt to revive him by breathing on him kills him instead. Perhaps the beloved looks with kind intentions-- and then regrets that her glance has caused the lover to vanish in a puff of vapor?

Equally possible is Bekhud Mohani's notion that the lover is speaking sarcastically-- 'thanks for your 'kind' glance, it's bound to vaporize me!'. Or his even more extreme suggestion that she might do it on purpose: in {126,8}, the verse he cites, the second line is, 'the person whose friend you are, why should the sky be his enemy?' (Or, as we'd put it in English, 'with friends like you, who needs enemies?')

Of course in the previous verse, {78,4}, we learned that the beloved's neglect will kill the lover; now we learn that her glance of favor too will do him in. What's a poor beloved to do? Or a poor lover? The lover's journey is a predestined route to death; he knows this, and chooses it even as it chooses him. It's the anticipatory part of his 'education in oblivion'-- an education which, as we learn from {61,3}, has been going on for some ages now.