Ghazal 81, Verse 5


daa))im ul-;habs us me;N hai;N laakho;N tamannaa))e;N asad
jaante hai;N siinah-e pur-;xuu;N ko zindaa;N-;xaanah ham

1) they're in 'life imprisonment' in it, all the hundreds of thousands of longings, Asad
2) we consider our blood-filled breast [to be] a prison-house


tamanna : Wish, desire, longing, inclination ... ; request, prayer, supplication, petition'. (Platts p.337)


Those longings that will never {emerge / be fulfilled}, he has construed as 'life-prisoner' inmates. (82)

== Nazm page 82

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'We consider our blood-filled breast to be a jail-house [jel-;xaanah]'. Because in our breast are all the hundreds of thousands of longings have been imprisoned for a whole lifetime; neither has any {emerged / been fulfilled} so far, nor can any hope be held out of any of them {emerging / being fulfilled} in the future, for the whole life long. The meaning is that many longings are in our heart such that their emergence/fulfillment depends only on the grace of the Lord. (131)

Bekhud Mohani:

He has called them 'life-prisoners' because those longings were never fulfilled. Our blood-filled breast is a prison-house, in which all the hundreds of thousands of longings are imprisoned forever. (171)



And after the baroque, fascinating, heavy-duty verses {81,1-3}, and the cryptic {81,4}, here comes our light relief: an enjoyable little mushairah verse. We can't tell what's being referred to in the first line, and must wait (under mushairah performance conditions) in some perplexity for the second. Even then, we don't receive full information until the very end of the line. But then suddenly when we've got it, we've got it, and there's no need for further reflection. These qualities, by my definition, are the very essence of a 'mushairah verse'.

The most enjoyable feature of the verse is its use of bureaucratic terminology, the fancy Arabic-based officialese of daa))im ul-;habs . It's something like 'life imprisonment', except that it refers to the 'life-prisoner' who is never to be released. To apply it to a set of longings imprisoned in a blood-filled bosom is entertaining in itself.

Moreover, there's the deftly invoked and exploited double meaning of nikalnaa -- both 'to emerge' (as would a prisoner), and 'to come true' (as would a longing). For a famous example of wordplay involving both meanings, see {219,1}. Most piquantly, the word nikalnaa itself is not even used in the verse-- and yet its presence, lurking in the background, is strongly felt, and is reflected in some of the commentary (e.g., Bekhud Mohani's). The wordplay of nikalnaa is what energizes the doubly morbid idea that the longings will never 'come out' of their prison, nor will they ever 'come true'. Another examples in which the double sense of nikalnaa is implied: {132,3}.

The clever use of laakho;N gives a finishing touch to the verse. Anybody could speak of 'lakhs of longings', hundreds of thousands of them. But the oblique plural ending specifically shows completeness-- 'all the hundreds of thousands'. It thus nicely reinforces the idea that none of them ever have come out; the whole supply of them, all that ever existed, are still trapped there, clamoring and suffering and filling the breast with blood, like prisoners banging vainly on the bars.