Ghazal 85, Verse 7


fikr-e dunyaa me;N sar khapaataa huu;N
mai;N kahaa;N aur yih vabaal kahaa;N

1) in worry/anxiety about the world I 'exhaust/ruin the head'

2a) how can I and this curse/ruin be equal/compared?!
2b) I am-- where?! and this curse/ruin-- where?!


khapaanaa : 'To destroy, make an end of, make away with, to despatch; to ruin, ravage, lay waste; to end, finish, complete, exhaust'. (Platts p.869)


kahaa;N ... kahaa;N : 'Where (this) — where (that)?; how distant or how different is (this) from (that)! how little is (this) consistent with that! (e.g. kahaa;N raajaa bhoj kahaa;N gangaa telii ; — cf. Pers. kujaa — kujaa )'. (Platts p.868)


vabaal : 'An unhealthy climate or atmosphere; --anything painful or distressing; bane, pest, plague; --a crime, sin, fault; --punishment (for a crime); divine vengeance; curse; misfortune; ruin'. (Platts p.1178)


That is, there was a time when I had no relationship at all with any worldly cares or concerns. (84)

== Nazm page 84

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'I was a slave of passion; I was involved with the grief of passion. I used to endure the difficulties of separation, I used to enjoy the pleasures of union. What did I have to do with the grief of the world? What did I consider that curse/ruin to be?' (134)

Bekhud Mohani:

Now I am, and the worry about livelihood [mai;N huu;N aur...]. Where am I, and where this snare! He expresses the movement of the time, and his own oppression. That is, he shows the disrespect of the people of the world; and if things were not like this, then why would a free one like me become involved in these quarrels? (173)



Some general points about this whole gazal have been made in {85,1}.

This verse makes excellent use of the idiomatic pattern kahaa;N yih kahaa;N vuh (see the definition above), where the point is that the two items are radically incommensurable-- how could they even be mentioned in the same breath? The famous proverb kahaa;N raajaa bhoj kahaa;N ganguu telii ['Where [is] Raja Bhoj, where [is] Gangu the Oil-presser?!'] comes to mind: it expresses the extremes of the social system, with its two ends that cannot be imagined as meeting. For another example of this usage, see {219,9}; for a Persianized instance, see {349x,2}.

Here, as so often, Ghalib uses an idiom in an unexpectedly complex way. Consider some of its possibilities:

=How can the speaker, a former lover, have fallen so low as now to immerse himself in worldly worries? He should instead be experiencing the grief of passion, which is his only proper concern.

=How can the speaker, a helpless and hapless type with no resources, possibly cope with the manifold practical difficulties of making a living in the real world?

=The speaker's perpetual worry and anxiety is what really wears him down. He exhausts his brains with all this self-torment about life in general. How can his mind endure the ruinous burden of such constant anxiety and distress?

In other words, the flexibility of the kahaa;N ... kahaa;N idiom makes possible three quite different readings of the nature of the ex-lover's suffering. It might be due to shame at his personal history, to practical difficulties in the world, or to psychological self-torment. (Or, of course, all of the above.)

And the nature of the idiom also makes us ask about the relation between self-inflicted and external kinds of ruin. To 'exhaust one's head', sar khapaanaa , is a form of ruin that both is self-generated (since one does it to oneself), and is not self-generated (since outside factors bring it about). So the speaker may well ask, 'Where am I, and where is this vabaal , this curse/ misfortune/ burden/ ruin?!' He and it are incommensurable, poles apart, as the idiom makes clear. But obviously he and it are also related fairly intimately. After all, it's the very immediate 'this' curse, not the more usual 'that' one. Is the speaker trapped inside it [fikr-e dunyaa me;N], or is it a (mind-generated) part of him? Or, as usual, both at once?